Saturday, December 3, 2022

Saleshando calls for legislation to empower locals

The President of Botswana Congress Party, Dumelang Saleshando, says that he finds it very hard to understand why the government of Botswana is failing to come out with legislation to empower Batswana.

Speaking in an interview with Sunday standard, Saleshando, who has been criticizing the government on this issue at political rallies he has been addressing, said that it was hurting to note that Batswana are only getting 17 percent of pula value of all the amount paid for infrastructure taking place in the country whilst the remaining 83 percent goes to foreign owned companies.

Saleshando said that the foreign-owned companies that get most of what is paid for by the government in this country include Chinese companies, which are currently constructing multi-million pula projects in the country whilst they do not transfer skills to the locals and do not provide value jobs for Batswana.

“The only Batswana they employ in the multi-million pula projects they are carrying out in the country are low paying jobs for unskilled workers whilst their imported labour do the best paying jobs,” he lamented.

The BCP leader said that it was because of this that he finds the government’s argument that its duty was not to go into business but to provide conducive environment to do business very unconvincing because the playing field is uneven as poor Batswana businessmen in construction have to compete with rich multi-national companies like the Chinese companies, which are currently dominating construction business.

When asked if coming up with such a policy will not in the end benefit only those well connected to the ruling class or government as has happened in other African countries where there is such legislation, Saleshando said that such a scheme could be done on the lines of a company called UNIGEM, which has empowered Unions and, by extension, its members instead of individuals.
The company is owned by Unions of government employees and is currently helping its members buy cars or property which used to be done by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.

Saleshando said this was the same programme he would like to see happening when national asserts, such as Botswana Telecommunications Corporation, are privatized or when cleaning services in government departments are out sourced as government has indicated it wants to do in the near future.

But he was quick to add that he still believes that even individuals who have shown determination should be empowered by the government not on grounds that they are related to those in power but because they have shown their determination.

“Government should not shy away from doing this. She should do it to make sure that Batswana who are currently seen as less credit worthy than foreigners can improve on that and become active players in the economy of their country,” he added.

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