A few weeks ago, we wrote on this space that Botswana needed to come to the party and join hands with those countries that want to financially help Zimbabwe.
Of course, our view still stands.
We still maintain that it is in Botswana’s long-term interest to help Zimbabwe out of the deep ditch into which Robert Mugabe has dug that country.
We are inclined towards all efforts to rescue Zimbabwe.
The sooner Zimbabwe becomes a normal country again the better it will be for Botswana.
That said, we are not prevented from questions the ways with which such rescue plans are established.
This past week, it was announced that Botswana Government has guaranteed loans worth P500 million to Zimbabwe.
What the Government of Botswana did to the people of Zimbabwe is by any principle an honourable gesture.
But in the same token, while we laud Botswana Government’s good faith and gesture, there are a few points that should be clarified, which we note with sadness the Minister of Finance Baledzi Gaolathe chose to ignore at the media conference he addressed mid-week.
Botswana Government’s agreeable nod to our suggestion has been tainted by the way the whole credit facility has been executed.
While this is in no way to suggest that what cabinet did is illegal, we would have wished that Botswana Parliament had been taken on board.
Just for the record we want to emphasise that it was a good tactical move which demonstrated some level of financial literacy and competency that Botswana Government elected not to issue cash to Zimbabwe but rather to underwrite loans.
Secondly, we would have wished that an attempt had been made to make Botswana’s rescue package part of a larger international pool so as to make a greater impact.
Certainly, Botswana could have worked with other SADC countries to bolster what would have looked like a structured facility.
P500 million is a very small amount of money.
No matter how much love and goodwill the P500 million is given with, it will make no impact at all given the scale and depth of Zimbabwe’s economic and social problems.
If ever there was a proper gesture to make with such an amount, it would have been for Botswana Government to issue it as a grant or a gift that had no strings attached to it.
On that note, instead of Botswana Government providing surety, one would have wished that such institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were roped in to provide such cover were there a need for the provision of a structured facility.
It is a fact, sad as it is that Zimbabwe remains a risk ÔÇô political and financial.
What happens in the event Zimbabwe fails to repay the loan?
If that country fails to repay the loans that Botswana Government has voluntarily undertaken to underwrite, it will naturally fall on the Botswana Government to honour its legal obligation as a surety, by which time questions will arise on just how it had been that Botswana Government ever committed the country with an unauthorised expenditure.
Naturally, Botswana-based commercial banks will be falling over themselves, fighting each other to provide the facility because as it were, as long as it is guaranteed by the Botswana Government then the loan is risk-free.
We feel very strongly that cabinet should have sought the validation of parliament over this lifeline.
Crucially, it has not been ascertained just how thorough Botswana Government has been in its assessment to determine the strength of control and governance structures in Zimbabwe so as to be sure that the money so badly needed by the ordinary Zimbabweans will not fall into the hands of Mugabe and his lackeys only to be used to undermine democracy and strengthen the hands of evil forces in that country.
Not so long ago, South Africa donated about 300 million Rands to Zimbabwe for agricultural inputs, fertilsers and implements.
Because Mugabe and his criminal ZANU-PF literally control the banks that money ultimately found its way into the regime’s kingpins.
Today South Africa is not able to account what the money was used for and they do not know who to ask to provide an audit.
If we had a choice as Sunday Standard we would have preferred that the money from Botswana was to be deposited into bank accounts of a few select Non-Governmental Organisations as would be so determined by our Government.
Such NGOs, would in turn be strictly monitored by appointed representatives of the Botswana Government to ensure not only compliance with the regulation as therein set but also ensure that the money ends up helping the poorest of the Zimbabwean people who have been affected most by disease, violence, poverty and general crime meted on them by a government that was supposed to defend them.