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Decent jobs; decent lives - Is it really possible?

On May 18, 2019, the three opposition parties aligned to the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) unveiled a joint manifesto envisioned in ‘Prosperity for All’ and layered in a profound drive to transform the economy and lives of Batswana.

The theme ‘Decent Jobs, Decent Lives’ characterises seven promissory notes of a 100, 000 jobs in 12 months; P3, 000 living wage; tandabala (Old age pension)  of P1, 500; free sanitary pads for students; tablets for all learners; tertiary education allowance of P2, 500; and re-opening BCL Mine.

Consultative fora across many halls summed public dialogue to the quest for employment and a living wage. The manifesto is a thrilling read indicative of the intellectual depth that compiled the set of promises. The launch attracted a huge self-mobilising gathering. What is also evident is engagement of seasoned consultants in polishing the messaging for ease of comprehension and absorption. Compared to the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) manifesto, which passes as group work of disinterested students with an idea of governance, the UDC makes extraordinarily specific promises which the coalition intends to be held accountable to should it be voted into power.

The UDC consolidates its specific targets to three strategic imperatives for human development being empowerment, opportunity and human security. Unlike its rival BDP, the UDC sets measurable and time bound objectives. To provide better leadership UDC will tackle challenges the country faces around the five themes of governance and anti-corruption; economy and jobs; labour and employment; education and health.

The best ripples with huge impact to add to the simplicity of the manifesto came from UDC vice president and Maun West contestant Dumelang Saleshando. In his address befitting a manifesto launch Saleshando enumerated 10 fundamental principles that would enjoy public audience and provide an answer to tackling the potential question of the cost of the largesse proposed by UDC. Saleshando’s affirmation of other revenue generation streams beyond minerals and SACU, served as the undocumented pillars to pursue an improbable destiny of a splendid nation of relatively able people who are yet to realise their true potential.

The forge for new solutions to the welfare of mankind as proposed by Saleshando and indeed encapsulated in the UDC manifesto will see Ipelegeng being replaced by a Labour Intensive Public Works Programme (LIPWP) that pays a living wage. Targeted deliverables for LIPWP are paved roads, small scale dams and other medium works. The end benefit is not tax earned from this group but the trickle-down effect as propensity to spend will see business boom that will result in government earning more in the form of taxes from business community.

Revenue generation under the UDC government will be spearheaded by a sliding scale tax system that will pursue a balance to have high income earners pay more taxes than lower income brackets. The construction of major road networks with toll gates would see government recover funds from the users to services provided for by government in direct contrast to cost sharing as in the education sector under the BDP.

Localising payments in the tourism sector is also touted as one other means to increasing revenue streams within the country while cost containment will be a major drive as informed by the Auditor General report with the idea to improve efficiencies and cut down on wastage. Saleshando also identifies reducing military expenditure relative to GDP as an opportunity of shifting focus to welfare related objectives.

For all that went well in Maun, there were equally some blemishes. The first has to be UDC leader Honourable Duma Boko. The official programme was scheduled to start at 14h00. Boko arrived shortly after 17h00. The man’s chronic late coming brings into question his sense of timing and certainly a source of inconsiderate frustration towards everyone else who has to wait. The Harvard schooled Boko should draw inspiration for the first President of the USA George

Washington, who was characterised by a scrupulous regard for punctuality.

The second blemish, also to do with Boko, points to the defaulting to freedom square politics. Given the tone set by Saleshando, Boko missed the opportunity to lay a foundation for his journey to the State House. At the least, Boko should have confined his address to the foreword of the istanbul bayan escort manifesto. In 2004, Barack Obama delivered what would be a termed the ‘speech that made him President’ at John Kerry’s nomination convention. It was after that speech that people started to think of Obama as the next president of the USA. Maun will always be that missed opportunity for Boko.

And then there was the blatant disorganisation. Whilst the three parties that coalesce profess to be united, in truth they work in silos. It would appear that the exit of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) took away some collective organisational planning from the UDC leaving the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) as the sole organised entity. The UDC NEC does not meet and of the contracting parties only the BCP and BPP convenes party executive meetings regularly.

Then there was the occasional lack of discipline by the membership of the UDC. Booze flowed in the stands. The choice of venue could also be what set out the holiday mood. About the time the UDC leader took to speak, many a comrades had filed to the drinking holes around the stadium and in town to wet their throats.

But the worst of blemishes has to be reserved to a litany of body cooperates. The BNSC threw the organisers of the launch from pillar to post trying to milk P50, 000 for the venue when in fact political parties should pay P20, 000. After a shameful back and forth, with the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) unable to match an emboldened UDC they gave in. A sympathiser in the electricity supplier Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) informed the organisers of a plan to disrupt proceedings by load shedding forcing the event organisers to borrow a mobile backup generator. As if that wasn’t enough, the stadium management team eventually istanbul eskort provided the venue without ablutions. Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) lockdown of the manifesto also adds to the list of repressive doings consistent with dictatorial tendencies. These ought to be condemned.

Despite the multiple shortcomings, one thing evident was the hunger for a change of government from the attendant crowd perhaps even more than the collective coalition leadership. Nevah Tshabang’s Nkange mobilised an impressive 149 people to Maun. Such commitment in large numbers is unmatched.

About the time debates on manifesto start, the UDC will be miles ahead selling its intents. Given the easy of understanding, the message will be articulated with little variation from Parakarungu to Middlepits. The reverberation of the jobs, living wage, tertiary allowance and tandabala is attractive. Across political parties, comparison for worthy content, although too wordy lies with Alliance for Progressives (AP). And if indeed manifestos were the sole prerequisite for state power, the contest would be between to the opposition parties.

The opposition should have long attained state power on account of Dr Kenneth Koma and Koma alone. Internal strife and weak administrative strength has been its life long limitation. The Botswana National Front (BNF) has the largest ratio of activists to voters and a BNF- BCP axis with its second generation leaders is an existential threat to the BDP. The question therefore arises: will this sound manifesto be the springboard to winning state power?

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