Botswana is said to be in a state of do or die, with its economy on a sick bed and almost half of the people being ravaged by or about to sink into poverty despite the many international accolades the country enjoys.
This was said by the President of Alliance for Progressives, Ndaba Gabaolathe when delivering his Annual Policy Address last week.
Gaolathe said that young people have lost the desire to dream about what they could become. “We are a nation divided between an elite that enjoys our national treasures, our minerals, our land and first world health, education and life facilities- and the rest of the households with a median income of less than P2200, that lives in overcrowded conditions, that endures poor health facilities and receives a poor education.”
He said that the nation continues to be held at ransom by a constitutional dictatorship.
“We are in a state of do or die because if we don’t change, we perish, if we don’t do something fresh, something different, something radical we die. But we have a responsibility, an obligation and a duty to turn the tables of this great nation and I am here to tell you today that our movement, the AP, offers that path, the path to a New Botswana, a path to rise as a people, a path to do rather than die.”
Gaolathe said that the new Botswana, with its new diplomacy, clean government and constellation of focused leadership, is determined to attract more than P100 billion in investments from local and international investors.
He said corporations, multi-national companies, entrepreneurs, universities, venture funds, private equity institutions and multi-lateral institutions can contribute towards Botswana’s boldest and most ambitious infrastructure programme.
Gaolathe said that the government is failing in its role as a steward as a custodian of the national coffers.
“We are not given a full picture of the state of the economy. Parliament had agreed some time back that the Method of accounting should be changed to accrual, where we report on the balance sheet.”
The AP leader said that to date there is no comprehensive strategy to deal definitively with the COVID 19 pandemic, no accounting on how much has been used, specifically for fighting the pandemic nor any indications on how much is going to be used.
He mentioned that the composition of the COVID 19 Task Force should not be only medical personnel, but other disciplines as well to formulate a holistic containment and recovery strategy.
“We are a generation with a clear vision of a New Botswana. At the core of our vision is a determination to transform the lives of people by lifting the material conditions of our people. This entails necessarily the building of inclusive institutions and an economy that generates high paying jobs for the majority.”
Gaolathe explained that in this way, the people of Botswana live in a country that cherishes their talent and offers them the opportunity to realise their economic and social potential.
“16% of our people still live under the poverty line (almost 400 000 people). Most people live in overcrowded home conditions. Many people are either unemployed or under-employed or work in poor paying jobs (average wages of P5 000 people in the formal sector).”
He noted that their ambitions in six years in the New Botswana are to grow the economy by at least 10% on average, drive non-mineral exports to at least 40% of GDP and shrink unemployment from 20% to less than 10%, augment manufacturing output to 20% of GDP, and make Botswana a transport hub for the 345 million strong SADC market.
“What we have set out to do within six (6) years in Government: (attract at least P100 billion in Domestic and FDI, reduce the import Bill from 71 billion to 23 billion, position Agriculture as one of the top 4 contributors to GDP, ensure every Motswana has access to land for home ownership and productive use, improve our Global Competitiveness Index ranking from 5th to 1st in Africa, and from 90th to 40th in the world)
monumental mistakes that will continue to deny future generations their right to benefit from Botswana’s mineral wealth,” Gaolathe explained.