Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Wrong priorities, appointments retarding progress

Lately, young people, including me, seem tremendously interested in national affairs and eager to know what appears in the press or over the radio and television.

A lot is happening.

Botswana is no longer a silent and docile state. Our country is getting a new definition and new images of all sorts continue to emerge. Stupendously, a picture of the civil service that does not know that human capital is an important investment and lies at the core of innovation and a productive high-income economy is painted in the media.

Freezing of jobs, no salary increment, acts of anarchy, unceremonious resignations and redeployments, favouritism, nepotism, procurement procedure flaws, and mockery of citizen empowerment policies have been experienced and voices of disgruntled employees heard.

The Education Ministry is still reeling from the aftermath of such and very soon over 90 percent of the civil Service will say ‘tools down’ thanks to Minister Matambo’s 2011 Budget Speech.

The media paints a picture of a state where the people get job appointments, promotions and tenders because they have ties to the ruling party.

Critics feel these individuals benefit solely to serve specific interests. Some say there is nothing sinister about it, it is all about having the right connections with people who hold influential position, and if you are not, you are doomed. We can cite one Boring TV (Btv) station as an illustrious example.

Despite having the best signal and equipment in Africa it still has no content save for the old Chinese movies and Korean soaps.

A promising station 10 years ago, it has since taken a nose dive. It has failed dismally in marketing Botswana, its tourism, its culture or her people to its multi million SADC viewership.
It cannot generate its own income through adverts or studio hires. What a waste! There is no doubt, governmental mismanagement hamper development. The nation pays a heavy cost as these unfair and unprofessional pretenses come with a price of money and deprivation of quality service to the nation.

Moreover, if we use some of our people for political gains, talented people don’t get a chance to give shape to their ideas. It will be magical that our economy can succeed without a highly skilled talent base.

I stumble upon scores of young people every year who have ambitions and dreams that never materialize. They wish to work and do more for their country and not conversely, but get frustrated as they feel they are neither recognized nor cherished. And with a crop of young people who are not able to respond rapidly and creatively to economic changes, and are not centered on developing and utilizing knowledge, our country is damned.

The trend by government sponsored students in foreign countries who do not return home after finishing their studies but rather stay on for ‘greener pastures’, attests to this.

They realize they cannot give full scope to their talent in the prevailing atmosphere, they then choose to migrate to places which they feel would help them realize their intellectual quest. In fact, most of the top Botswana brains settled abroad might not even want preferential treatment but only a normal and systematic development environment.

Yes, it is the post economic crisis period and Botswana like other countries, remains fragile, with elevated levels of unemployment posing a challenge, especially that of young people. And on a positive note, I read, the government wants all vacant posts filled up by this March.

This noble exercise should not be about filling posts for the sake of it. The right workers will need to find the right jobs and the right jobs should attract the right workers. Simultaneously, the talented must be roped in for Delivery’s sake.

I am of the view that talent must help invigorate our economy. And if we really want to attract more talent to serve the state we can only do that if we start treating the talented persons kindly and making good use of them. I mean, if our country can go all out to attract overseas talent by offering them special privileges but turns a blind eye to competent and creative people at home, overseas talent will doubt our sincerity.

Do you remember that Singapore Consultant who was reportedly earning P8 000 a day? Taking you through ‘Economics 101′ class; achieving a high-income economy requires, among other things, an efficient labor market that is able to attract, develop and retain the best talent. We must seriously reform the labor market for efficient matching of demand with supply to improve the retention of top talent and to enhance the attractiveness of Botswana to Batswana.

Nonsensical as it may sound; our young people graduate from the University of Botswana, Colleges and Overseas Universities every year and find it increasingly difficult to find jobs due to this mis-match. Simply put, their earned degrees are not needed in the job market.

As a country we must enhance our country\’s ability to nurture, attract and retain top talent. By creating the right environment or system that benefits domestic talent, the authorities would be sending out encouraging signals to Batswana talent settled abroad to return home and help the country achieve greater heights.

Encouraging all enterprises as well as social and government entities to better use this workforce also will be a major way to upgrade our economy. Eseng jaaka ba ituletse mo go rona thanks to the Internship Programme. The Botswana government has set a target to transform Botswana into an innovative and creative country by 2016. However, this cannot be realized unless Botswana places more emphasis on the innovative and creative talent required to build it into an innovative country. Before talking about how to deal with the Fifth D for ‘Service Delivery’, the authorities should create more opportunities for local talent.

They can put the talent of competent local people to best use and create an atmosphere and mechanism that would help talent flourish. Financial resources alone are not enough and human resources should be the most important factor in today\’s knowledge-based economy. I bet methods for attracting talented human capital can have a profound impact on the country’s economic, political and social transformation.

Botswana needs to transform its workforce into one that is both labor intensive and talent rich for a healthy and productive national progress.

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