Matambo extols the virtues of national development… but

  • Batswana in mixed mood
  • ‘budget tells of Khama’s knack for war versus training’
  • Masisi has a lot of cleaning to do

Outgoing President Ian will leave office after a two-term tenure characterized by an agenda for national development. While most African leaders are known to leave behind collapsed economies after looting the national treasury, Botswana has seen relative growth during the Khama administration.
According to Minister Kenneth Matambo, international rating agencies have reflected Botswana’s growing positive reputation which continues to outshine that of other countries in the region, like South Africa, that have declined due to the controversial leadership.
“Botswana continues to be rated annually by major sovereign credit rating agencies of Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s Investor Service, as part of its effort to maintain a competitive economy. Such ratings entail the assessment of the country’s various macroeconomic policies and indicators, with a view to determining the country’s economic fundamentals. In this regard, it is pleasing to note that, both rating-agencies maintained Botswana’s “A” investment grade rating, (i.e., A-/A-2 by Standard & Poor’s and A2 by Moody’s Investors), during 2017. Standard & Poor’s even revised Botswana’s economic outlook from a negative status to stable, reflecting the country’s record of accomplishment on prudent economic management.”
For a country that has received considerable revenue from the mining sector, it is imperative that the fruits of that bounty is ploughed back for development purposes.  “While it is critical to invest in new infrastructure projects to create a conducive environment for growth and economic diversification, it is equally important to ensure that the existing infrastructure is maintained in good condition in order to derive maximum benefits. A well-maintained road network, for example, can contribute to the efficient delivery of public services within the country, which, in turn, improves the standard of living of Batswana. In this regard, an amount of P2.23 billion, comprising Development Budget of P1.24 billion and Recurrent Budget of P987.71 million is proposed for allocation during 2018/2019 to cover maintenance of government facilities throughout the country, including urgent repairs to schools and health facilities.”
Furthermore, Matambo seemed to agree with Transport and Communications Minister, Kitso Mokaila, who recently said some state enterprises needed a lot of ‘sanitizing’ in order to deliver their mandate. “Meanwhile, performance of our state-owned enterprises was mixed during 2016/2017. Among those that registered positive performance during the year are: Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited, with a net profit of P237.3 million, compared to a net loss of P370.8 million in 2016; Botswana Housing Corporation with a net profit of P48.5 million in 2017, compared to P27.9 million in 2016; Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority with a net profit of P50.8 million in 2017, compared to P43.6 million in 2016; and Botswana Savings Bank (BSB) with a net profit of P15.5 million in 2017, compared to P12.8 million in 2016.
What they said about the Budget Speech:
Some Batswana who took time off to hear the budget speech which was awkwardly timed say not much has changed from the many budget speeches that Ian Khama presided over. “Now that the soldier is calling it quits, we hope the new president Masisi will have the audacity to clean the mess. We are looking to improve the lives of the many Batswana who are reeling under what seems to be abject poverty in a country of plenty,” commented Moshe Mosala from Mafitlhakgosi ward in Tlokweng. Mosala added that since he works for a private organization, he did not see  Khama’s ‘effect’ in his pay slip.
Another budget follower Chedza Tshukudu says president Khama has shown that he is still a warmonger even after leaving the barracks many years ago. “Our education system is in intensive care unit while their children attend the best of schools which we can’t afford with our meager salaries. We need to have a new leadership in education because the current minister, especially the one heading the basic education is failing dismally.”
Other Batswana who are used to hardships see no light at the end of the tunnel and stuck in the perennial jobseeker’s mill. “The colleges are churning out ‘billions’ of students but there is no job anywhere near for us school leavers,’ one street vendor who preferred anonymity said.
Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) Secretary General (SG) Tobokani Rari in his social media page said “This budget speech thing has become a fashion parade where there is continuous regurgitation of the same junk put in the same old template. Budget should be for the people, it should be people centered.”
He called for a social dialogue at budget formulation stages and for there to be meaningful consultation over the needs of society. This, he said, would ensure that the budget addresses the needs of society. “We cannot leave this to be the preserve of the few technocrats, executive and government bureaucrats. That’s why this budget channels money to areas where those in charge know that they will go to the other side benefit from it,” he added.