The Umbrella for Democratic Change has said that only people who are members of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and its associates are enjoying the share of the national cake.
In its manifesto which was launched on Friday, the UDC says that that Botswana’s democratic tradition is coming under strain as the governing party exploits loop-holes in the country’s constitution to entrench an increasingly authoritarian presidency.
“For example, power is consolidated through the exclusive appointment of unelected loyalists to key Government and parastatal positions (predominantly former army personnel who are close to the President), and through a firm grip on large multi-million pula tenders in favour of businesses linked with close associates of the governing party,” state policy makers of the UDC.
The party states that as the Government is the largest single procurer of goods and services in our country, the effect is the emergence of an inherently unfair system which disregards merit or traditional values of hard-work.
On other issues, the party notes that as a result of declining governance standards, public services either do not reach ordinary people, or are too slow to reach them, particularly in rural areas. Long lines are common in most public institutions including hospitals and clinics where vulnerable people are at the mercy of de-motivated staff, the party says.
“This is not only a problem of poor motivation but also a result of technical challenges; for example, unavailability of medication and expiry of same is often a result of poor distribution systems. Further, this poor motivation is also true for the security forces whose professionalism is being tempered by the undue influence of the Office of the President (OP) and the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS): Professional and competent army generals are systematically being dismissed,” says UDC.
The party says that the sharp divisions (such as those reported within the security cluster) within Government institutions are beginning to compromise any efforts towards establishing a culture of good governance.
Upon taking governance of the country, the UDC also intends to review and restructure sectors plagued by inefficiencies such as beef, water, power and land use planning and implementation through laws and right regulation and catalyse a balanced industrial organization that generates sustainable jobs.
UDC says it intends to build cordial relations between employers and trade unions – and ensure mutually beneficial rewards of a robust economy.
UDC also says that its new Government will assertively drive an environment for such a system through a raft of policy and initiatives that are geared towards creating a larger economic and employment base outside Government, one which is a sustainable, growing and equitable eco-system of large and small companies, labour, entrepreneurs, civil servants and executives.
Some of the mechanisms to achieve this will include the following: Introduce an education system and mindset geared toward churning artisans, technicians, scientists, managers and other professionals that the economy and Prohibitions against home-based trading for general supplies, local brew and liquor will be repealed, and modified to ensure safety of children in particular, safety of consumers and the public interest.
“For instance, councils will have to provide physical alternative for home-mechanics, where they can collectively work next to each other in a neat, organized environment (special parks, and special trading blocks in neighborhoods),” states the manifesto document.
UDC also intends to introduce a constitutional court in the country. The party says Botswana’s justice system, although relatively fair, is beginning to slip due to the undue influence the Presidency has or can have in the appointment of judges to the High Court and Court of Appeal. The Movement will democratize this process to ensure that judges are appointed unambiguously on merit, and nominations will have to be approved by the Legislature/Parliament.
The UDC government also intends to elevate the standard of the country’s sport development and management and intervene in the early development of talent, and push for a massive and systematic export of the country’s art, music and cultural pride. “We will cultivate the seeds for the professionalizing of sports and also deploy sports and arts as levers to project a positive image of our country internationally,” says UDC.
The new UDC Government says it will work to bring back professionalism in the army, and allow professional soldiers space to build and maintain excellence in our armed forces.
“Another initiative will entail the appointment of a civilian national security adviser to assist Government in integrating, systematically, our nation’s security operations,” says UDC.