Mmegi Blogs :: Why Vision 2036 will fail like 2016
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Why Vision 2036 will fail like 2016

President Ian Khama had assembled a team of few people to go around the country soliciting ideas on the kind of Botswana the citizens want by the year 2036. It is not the first time that a President of this Republic did that. In 1996 Vision 2016 was drafted after ideas were sought from Batswana.
By Dithapelo Keorapetse Fri 04 Nov 2016, 19:36 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: Why Vision 2036 will fail like 2016

Parliament wasn’t involved in the Vision 2036, just like with 2016, formulation as many constituencies were visited whilst MPs were in Gaborone for a session. Will Vision 2036 be achieved? Why did Botswana not achieve the aspirations of 2016? There is no doubt that Botswana of today is better than that of 1966.

This is the reason why the ruling party thinks it deserves perpetual accolades ad infinitum. As Rre David Magang rightly puts it in his piece Delusions of Grandeur: “We are not a prosperous country and have never been a prosperous country. The most we have been is a progressive country, an appellation, again, we must take care to contextualise as it bears relevance only in relation to countries stuck in a Third World rut and permanently condemned to the bottom rungs”.

In the 1960s, Dubai, which was a poor desert settlement of about 30,000 people, dependent on fishing and seashells inter alia, and the Asian Tigers economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, took an economic path of nearly half a century alongside Botswana. Some African countries had also begun this economic journey and if you take for example Zambia or Malawi, one may think Botswana is prosperous and or heaven on earth.

However, that would be a serious fallacy.  Between 1960s-1990s, the Asian Tigers registered average annual economic growth rate of seven percent whilst Botswana outperformed them for nearly 30 years. During this time, Botswana was building schools, hospitals, bridges, connecting electricity and water for its people and all other things that a normal government ought to have done for its citizens.

For the Tigers, there was a clear recognition during their economic trajectory that increased economic efficiency, expansion of national capacity, technological improvement, economic and industrial diversification and adaptability to internal and external shocks were necessary conditions if their development was to be sustainable. In the words of Adrian Leftwich, the states of the Asian tigers set up coordinating intelligence or coordinating capacity which steered, pushed, pulled, cajoled, persuaded, enticed, coordinated and at times instructed and or forced a wide range of economic agents and their players to go this way instead of that, to do this and not that, and at times these states acted where or when the private sector could either could not or would not.

The developmental states of these now industrialised countries had the authority, power, and capacity to manage the market-work through, in and with the market economy. They built a strong manufacturing based and adopted import substitution model.

They built knowledge economies.

At the turn of the twenty-first century, Botswana’s peer, Dubai, is a real World Miracle with developed service sector and serious diversification away from small and expensive to mine oil reserves. Botswana which was erroneously referred to as An African Miracle by Samatar, or success story or exceptional by Acemoglu and others or even prosperous by Clark Leith, is still grappling with big wealth and income inequalities, poverty, unemployment and underemployment and lack of access to basic services.

Notwithstanding the economic ills, the country registered a whopping 9.2% economic growth between the 1960s and 1990s while the Tigers were at seven percent. These Asian Tigers had no mineral endowment like Botswana if you take say Singapore which a City state Botswana eclipses 800 times and gained independent in 1965 with virtually nothing, especially minerals in recoverable quantities. Today, the GDP per capita of Singapore is almost eight times that of Botswana


and foreign exchange reserves of more than 32 times of its African age mate.

Unemployment in Singapore hovers around two percent for a 5,4 million population whilst that of Botswana is around 20% in a population of two million people. Who had a clear vision between these countries? Why is it that all the Asian Tigers have graduated from poor low income or developing countries to industrialised or advanced economies and Botswana is still stuck at upper middle income country? Will Botswana be a high income, industrialised country by 2036?

It may be hard to achieve vision 2036 because it is the same government, same system, same people and same dishonesties. The difficulty, as identified by the framers of the Vision 2016 document in 1997, has been that, “The nation has set itself a low benchmark by comparing itself with poor countries, rather than with the best in the world.” (Vision 2016: page 3).

At Page 5 Vision 2016, it is clear that by the year 2016, Botswana will have a system of quality education that is able to adapt to the needs of the country as the world around us changes.  But 20 years later, failure rates are high, graduate unemployment is a big problem and education has been privatised in system akin to state capture. Government is fighting teachers in unending fights about working conditions, the profession has now been declared essential service.

On page 5 of the Vision 2016 document, it is stipulated that Botswana’s wealth of different languages and cultural traditions will be recognised, supported and strengthened within the education system and that no Motswana will be disadvantaged in the education system as a result of a mother tongue that differs from the country’s two official languages. But 20 years on, only the two official languages are used in schools and children from minority groups are disadvantaged. Community TV or radio stations are still not allowed.

On Page 33 of the Vision 2016, there is an undertaking that freedom of the press must be guaranteed in law and in practice.

The media in Botswana must be deregulated and on Page 34 it states that Botswana must introduce a freedom of information act that will protect the rights of citizens to have access to information, and to ensure the accountability of all public and private institutions. Currently arresting and charging journalists for doing their job has become a norm and all sorts of bad laws are in place whereas the information law is refused.

On Page 7 of the Vision 2016, the government promised that by the year 2016, with the economic growth rates adopted, Botswana will have reached full employment, where the total number of jobs available in the formal or informal sectors, is in balance with the number of job seekers. We now all know, as some have warned, that this was a propaganda. On page 6 of the Vision 2016 document, we were promised that Agriculture in Botswana will be productive, profitable and sustainable.

However, today farmers have been impoverished by the ailing Botswana Meat Commission, the country is not food self-sufficient even on some staple foods. Without an overhaul of the system, 2036 which promises achievement of prosperity for all will fail just like Vision 2016 with which the government said it was working towards prosperity for all.  Vison for our leader is a piece of paper which can be ignored, but for other serious people is action.

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