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Thursday 18 December 2014, 14:58 pm.
BMD response to the State of the Nation Address by Modubule [Part I]

Madam Speaker, it is my honour and privilege that I rise in this house today as leader of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) in this house. I rise to respond to the state of the Nation address by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Botswana on the 5th November, 2012.
By Staff Writer Sat 20 Dec 2014, 02:04 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: BMD response to the State of the Nation Address by Modubule [Part I]

The BMD was founded on the 29th May, 2010 and that was indeed the real new beginning as it was the first time that the ruling party experienced a serious split which in turn altered the complexion of our politics irrevocably. I have no doubt in my mind that the ramifications of the split are yet to complete their full course. We have lost a few valuable colleagues to the ruling party but our resolve to see a change of government stands. The prophecy by Dr Ngombe in 1997 that the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) was to win the 1999 general elections and that it would rule for 15 years thereafter before it loses elections are yet to materialise. His prophecy was recently buttressed by an American organisation called the Center for Strategic and International Studies in their June 2011 report in which they indicated that a joint opposition would take over power from the ruling party in 2014 general elections.

Let me now deal with the speech of His Excellency. The speech does not give us any hope of a better Botswana hence our call for a" new beginning- the people's aspirations". We are calling upon the people of this great Republic to join us in search of a new Botswana.  A Botswana that will give us some sense of dignity and hope.

We in the BMD note and support government objectives as outlined below:
*setting of realisable goals
*seeking bright future for all Batswana
*sustainable economic development
*zero tolerance for corruption
*Economic growth and diversification

It should be noted however that the address by the President was inconsistent with the above ideals. There are no clear plans to ensure Batswana have a bright future. Programmes suggested such as ISPAAD, Ipelegeng, Constituency league etc, cannot be considered as initiatives that can stimulate the economy and contribute to economic growth. What then does the BDP offer as a stimulus to the economy? Zero.

Botswana is said to be the least corrupt country in Africa, to us this is alarming because it means Africa is rotten and we are the least in the rot. How can Botswana be said to be the least corrupt country when scandals after scandals are revealed. The Maluti saga, Lobatse Tile ,Lobatse Clay Works, Lesetedi Commission and of late the BDC and BMC.

The address has failed to acknowledge counterproductive practices and maladministration plaguing our economy e.g. The BMC and BDC scandals etc. We call upon the government to own up to the debacles and report to Batswana the losses emanating from there or the government should resign. Calling on the Minister alone to resign would not help us as the whole system is failing us. Batswana should realise that money /funds siphoned by corrupt practices are a setback to economic growth and they should call upon government to account for all losses incurred and measures taken to remedy the situation. We once more call upon government to account and reassure Batswana that they are good stewards that can manage our assets prudently.

Unemployment and poverty
Honourable Speaker, since the President's speech has nothing to write home about I now propose to give Batswana an alternative programme which given a chance to govern will be implemented and would change this country for the benefit of all. A new Botswana is what the BMD and our colleagues in the Umbrella for Democratic Change are calling for. The President in his speech has failed to inform the nation on the unemployment rate or he simply ignored it because it is very high (Unemployment rate of 17.8% ). Batswana should know that the figure 17.8% refers only to those Batswana who are registered at labour offices as employment seekers. It does not take into account all those who are not registered with the labour department. The President has no programmes in place to tackle unemployment other than Ipelegeng, backyard gardens and constituency tournaments.

We suggest that government should channel the current Ipelegeng funds towards projects aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change throughout the country. Such projects may include tree planting, various conservation measures and use of alternative energy sources such as solar energy. These projects may be implemented at community level and under the Rural Development council and should be projects that provide permanent jobs.

Batswana involved in these projects can further be financially and technically assisted by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO'S) to access funds from some international sources. Bagaetsho the current Ipelegeng programme exploits Batswana and will never get the beneficiaries out of poverty or even allow them to graduate out of the programme. In his address on the 8th November, 2010 the President told the nation that 15264 youth were beneficiaries of Ipelegeng programme, on the 7th Noevmber, 2011 the number was said to have risen to 30897 and to our President this shows growth and youth empowerment. I beg to differ. The total number of Ipelegeng beneficiaries in 2011 was 141799 and in 2012 was quoted as 289595.

The poverty situation is said to be improving as it was 47% in 93/94, 30.6% in 2002/3 and in 2009/10 was at 20.8%. When one looks at the figures you may conclude that the government is winning against poverty but alas that is not the case. Our poverty reduction figures show a declining trend but all this is because more people are engaged in temporary government programmes like Ipelegeng and other social safety nets. Many Batswana are now dependent on government rations than ever before. Is this sustainable kana ke Mananeo a go reka ditlhopho hela?

The above scenario does not reflect a society getting out of poverty but rather that more people are getting poorer and therefore a bleak future for the country. The BDP government can no longer afford to address these problems hence should be removed from power. To buttress my point a June 2011 report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies Africa Programme had this to say about Botswana;

"Despite the significant achievements of its government since 1966, Botswana's prosperity and political stability are more fragile than is frequently recognised. At the core of this fragility are three current realities: a population that is highly dependent on social welfare programmes provided by the state; a state that is heavily reliant on a single commodity, diamonds, that is highly sensitive to fluctuations in the global economy; and a narrow economic base that leaves the country deeply tied to that of neighbouring South Africa."

It therefore shows how vulnerable we are as a nation and this calls for a more prudent management of the economy in order to reduce our reliance on the South African economy. Our continued reliance on the South African economy does not in any way help this nation. What ever happens to the South African economy affects us. We are a state wholly dependent on another state therefore our independence is doubtful.

Botswana has a population of just over two million and with natural resources in abundance for example, diamonds, copper & nickel, coal, gold and many others. Botswana has a lot of cattle and a sizeable number of sheep and goats. The question that needs to be answered then is why Batswana are poor in a rich country. The answer is simply, BDP Government has failed this nation and continues to do so and as long as Batswana continue to give BDP the mandate to rule the situation is going to be worse. Batswana are made poor by their own government e.g Chain stores are given licenses to trade in small villages thereby denying small businesses a chance to grow. Many Batswana as I speak were driven out of business by chain stores more so that these chain stores sell everything from magwinya to vegetables.

The youth are not assisted with land on which they can trade. Rentals are very high and therefore unaffordable.The entertainment industry has been killed by this regime. We promise the youth a free Botswana;a Botswana in which people will have a choice to sleep when they want to but of course good behavior and responsible drinking shall be encouraged. The government has turned into a mafia group whose main aim is to enrich itself at the expense of Batswana. The people who are suppose to be caretakers of the national purse are the ones now using our money irresponsibly. Bagaetsho I believe that the P530million that is going to be spent on Ipelegeng this year could have been used to put up a firm or an industry that could employ people on permanent basis. Every year when we increase the Ipelegeng intake we increase the money to be spent .Imagine the number of factories we could have built by now since the inception of Ipelegeng programme.Honourable Speaker allow me at this juncture to give Batswana alternative  programmes to those of the BDP.

It is indeed a pleasure to let Batswana know that we in the BMD and indeed the UDC consider housing to be a right not a privilege. This therefore means that every citizen of this country deserves a home. It shall therefore be the Governments duty to see to it that Batswana  own homes. We shall therefore promote home ownership. We shall make it easy for Batswana to own a house. Under the BDP government it is easy to own a car but that cannot be said with owning a house. This is so because the current regime does not consider housing as a right. The BMD and indeed the UDC  shall transform the Botswana Housing Corporation so as to deliver houses that can be afforded by the majority of our people. The core mandate will not be to make profit but to provide housing for the nation at reasonable and affordable prices.

Batswana who have the means will be allocated land to build houses under government guarantee schemes and these houses should be on tenant purchase scheme basis. Local  Authorities too will be allowed to build houses for their staff and allow them to purchase such houses. Trade Unions will also be assisted on the same basis.

Land is one of the fundamentals for human existence, therefore to avoid any future conflicts there has to be fair distribution, effective management and optimum utilisation. Without land there is no empowerment. In an effort to make sure that every citizen owns a piece of land we will develop a policy on fair, equal and transparent allocation of land. We will develop a land audit policy which policy will be reviewed periodically to ensure transparency in land ownership.

In our efforts to assist Batswana to have a piece of land we shall establish a land development bank whose mandate will amongst others be to assist citizens in the development of their virgin land and to convert such land into capital. We believe Batswana should be empowered to develop land allocated to them and not be threatened with repossessions.

Under the current regime we know of people who own land as big as Lesotho and some of such land is lying barren when many of our people do not have any piece of land that they can lay claim on. We shall therefore be compelled to establish a policy on the utilisation of land with the whole aim of making sure that there is no land lying unused when other people do not have land.

Our government will ensure that all Batswana have access to land for residential and production purposes. Multi-purpose use of land shall be allowed as long as it does not negatively affect the environment. The current system where you request permission for change of use has delayed and continue to delay many Batswana who want to venture into businesses.

Botswana is one of the few countries where patients are not attended to by doctors but all the dead are seen by doctors. You can spend the whole day at a clinic or hospital without being attended to by a doctor but when you pass on a doctor is immediately called to attend to your corpse. This practice must be stopped. We need medical attention whilst alive not when dead.

Workers under this sector are an unhappy lot due to non caring attitude of the ruling BDP government. We promise to improve the health workers conditions of service and to make sure we recruit, attract and retain the best and brightest staff. We believe you cannot expect good service delivery from an unhappy staff. The current regime thinks otherwise.

In an effort to improve our service delivery we will train and pay competitive salaries to our health workers. We do not buy into the idea of using our nurses as pharmacists. We will train enough pharmacists because we know their trades are not the same. We will establish a national health care council, independent of the Health Ministry and reporting to or advising the Parliament's Health-care Committee and the nation at large. It will have representatives from members of the public, doctors, nurses, social services, business community, labour and economists. The council should:

* Encourage delivery of good quality service on all health care facilities.
* Minimise interference of the Health Ministry in day to day running of the clinics/hospitals;
*  Advise Parliament on the best practices in medicine;
*  Advise Parliament on incentives for health-care professionals and their welfare;
*  Recommend main infrastructure projects, maintenance and facilities required in the national health system;
* Ensure that working conditions for all health care providers are at par with world standards and recommendations from World Health Organisation (WHO). Currently our doctors are over worked. This puts patients at risk of medical errors and negligence due to fatigue on the part of the doctors. We ask Batswana to support our course by voting for the Umbrella For Democratic Change in the 2014 general elections. Vote for change .Vote UDC
The BMD-UDC government will put up basic standard on the part of hospitals for computerised patients' records system that is accessible in all health care facilities across the country. This will ensure confidentiality of patients' records; continuity of care and minimise errors in case patients have travelled outside their usual residential areas.

Our movement believes Agriculture is a key factor with the power to prompt a faster growing, robust, resilient, diversified and broad-based economy. In actual fact Agriculture is supposed to be the backbone of our nation.

It is our firm belief that Agriculture if properly transformed as we intend doing can help this nation out of poverty and be self sufficient in food production. There is therefore need for a green revolution. Our government therefore hereby makes an undertaking  to inject more money in the Agricultural sector to put up infrastructural development to support agricultural production, such as water development for irrigation, maintenance of rural roads and provision of electricity etc.

We in the BMD-UDC hereby pledge that if given the opportunity to govern this country we will develop markets for agricultural produce. We will need to develop agro industries to process produce from our farms, provide jobs and improve the living standards of Batswana. Let us agree that Agriculture is the way to go and invest more money into it even if it means suspending most of our non agricultural related projects

We believe in participatory democracy and collective decision making. This therefore means that our government will work hand in hand with trade unions as we believe there are partners in the development of our country. In actual fact workers can make or break the economy of any country hence the need to treat them with respect and dignity. We are very much worried that under the current regime workers are treated as second class citizens when issues affecting their livelihood are discussed. The awarding of a 3% to workers by government was an insult to the workers and we believe mo Setswaneng se se reng "lalang ka ntho madi a tshologa".Re tla kopana le babusi ka 2014.

The instruction to our men in uniform (the BDF) that they should not cut their hair is yet another sign of oppression. We encourage you to soldier on, 2014 is not very far you shall be liberated.  The BMD-UDC would like to assure workers that the days of their suffering are coming to an end. To the men and women who have served this country when things were tough, those who are in the old government pension scheme we say to you help us remove Khama and his government since they have nothing to do with your welfare.

The increase that you used to get when your counterparts in the civil service were paid you no longer enjoy yet you are paying taxes. Your income has been seriously eroded.

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