Thursday, March 4, 2021

Rakhudu admits road bumpy ahead of attaining citizen empowerment

Government has admitted that Batswana have not yet fully participated in the economy as they continue to salivate as foreigners eat large chunks of the economic cake despite the existence of the Citizen Economic Empowerment Policy (CEE).

“I acknowledge Batswana are not getting much of what they deserve from the economic activities at stake but I believe we are getting there,” Assistant Minister of Trade and Industry Keletso Rakhudu told parliament.

“Local companies are sub-contractors but this is just the beginning,” he reassured parliament, adding Botswana was coming of age in the context of projects especially mega ones.

Responding to the Member of Parliament for South East South Odirile Motlhale on Monday Rakhudu indicated his government was making some positive strides in fulfilling the policy requirements.

“Forty seven years (time when the country gained independence) is not a long time, but we have strived much in the expansion of the economic activities of the country compared to other countries,” Rakhudu said.

“This has been so for some consecutive years as indicated by world bodies.”

Motlhale wanted the Assistant Minister to update on Citizen Economic Empowerment Policy, stating the type of projects given to citizen companies that have benefited from the policy since inception.

He is worried since the policy was implemented by the government in 2012, citizen companies have not benefitted much from the mega multi projects awarded to foreign companies.

The legislator cited the University Botswana expansion project and the construction of the Zambezi Bridge in Kazungula.

“Government has over the years embraced citizen empowerment initiatives in its development planning process by implementing specific programmes intended to empower Batswana in the absence of a specific empowerment policy,” he said.

The programmes are intended to enhance the competitiveness of citizen businesses, improve economic status of Batswana and ultimately improve quality of life.

“In this regard the sensitization process of the Policy with various stakeholders is being vigorously pursued. Batswana still require the necessary skills and competences to successfully take advantage of economic opportunities and become competitive in the global economy and therefore to have greater ownership, management and meaningful participation in the economy.”

“We will continue to coordinate all Citizen Economic Empowerment efforts and make the necessary adjustments if need be,” Rakhudu concluded.

Batswana companies which have benefited from the policy include the 76 citizen construction companies which were awarded projects to the value of P58.6m.

Others include the 47 citizen enterprises employing 151 people on solid waste management and disposal, just to mention a few the Assistant Minister revealed to parliament.

Legislators have previously punched holes in the policy saying citizens can be empowered only by the presence of citizen economic empowerment legislation.

“We need laws that support citizen economic empowerment,” BCP MP, Dumelang Saleshando said last year.

“One needs to appreciate the magnitude of the problem…citizens are observers in their own economy. Citizens get 17 percent of tender by value from government while non citizens get 78 percent,” he said.

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