Having waited in anticipation to hear president Mokgweetsi Masisi’s solutions and strategies to counter the effects of Covid-19 on the economy and livelihoods of citizens, tonight’s address was nothing about everything.
It was disappointing to hear the President, instead of giving assurance and lead as to how and when the fuel crisis will be handled, blaming the shortage on South Africa. The President was at pains to excuse his government from this fuel mess. He could not explain why the country failed to ensure there was enough fuel supplies and is now only waking up to the belated realization that the country is in great need of storage facilities.
The fact that Rre Masisi is only promising the construction of the Tshele storage facility and upgrading of the Francistown and Gantsi facilities, speaks to a disorganized, irresponsible administration which cannot plan ahead. The President needs to come clean about the fact that Botswana is today in desperate need and shortage of fuel because of the abuse and looting of the National Petroleum Fund, of which he is implicated. Now Batswana are paying the price with fuel rationing. Already business is feeling added stress of running without fuel and workers spending hours in petrol queues instead of working.
For the President to say people can walk or ride bicycles to work shows the government has nothing concrete to offer.
The results of a corrupt and mismanaged administration is the dire shortage of fuel, which will lead to more problems of power outages, food shortages and other essentials. We would have expected the President to have addressed how the government intended addressing these key elements if the fuel crisis continues, and/or the strike by South African truck drivers does not end soon, and impacts on delivery of services to Botswana.
Moreover, the BPF was hoping that the President’s address would come up with easing some Lockdown phases so the economy could be boosted by local businesses. Instead he has once again come out with his usual empty promises of assisting Batswana businesses. Where is the stimulus package? Instead of speaking in generalities of plans in the pipeline, the Masisi administration should be sharing strategies and plans for a turnaround. The “new” CEDA financing is an easy story to buy time, with nothing but empty promises.
One thing that clearly came out of the President’s address is that he came out, after a long time hiding from the nation, to defend his Indian business friends. Masisi’s rebuke of those he accuses of fueling hatred and sowing seeds of conflict was his attempt to silence Batswana raising concern about the economy being in the hands of foreigners. The BPF believe that Masisi came out not to address Batswana’s problems but to fight for his business partners and political funders.
Once again President Masisi has shown that he cannot be trusted with the lives of Batswana. And the sad part of all this systemic failure of leadership is that at the end of the day, The poor man feel it!
Biggie Ganda Butale
President of the Botswana Patriotic Front