Magama Argues Against Privatisation

Staff Writer
Members of Parliament of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party on Friday rejected a motion tabled by MP for Gaborone South, Akanyang Magama, requesting government to halt the privatisation of public enterprises.

Magama argued that in light of the current global economic recession it would be suicidal for government to go ahead with privatisation of Air Botswana, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) and the National Development Bank.

He said that the BDP wants to create a clique of millionaires who are cronies of the party, adding that everything is done in secrecy.

Botswana has one of the most secretive governments in the world where information is kept only to those in power, Magama said.

He accused the ruling party of failure to commit itself to empowering Batswana economically, stating that 44 years of independence have not improved the lives of the citizens. He called on government to come up with a policy on citizen economic empowerment.

Magama hit hard at the state owned Botswana Television saying it has been turned into a mouthpiece of the BDP. In support, Gaborone Central MP, Dumelang Saleshando, said there should be a policy in place to secure participation of Batswana in the privatisation of public enterprises.

He said the failed privatisation of Air Botswana in 2007 was a lesson for Batswana because the company that nearly won the bid was going to relocate to South Africa running all operations from there. There

was no local company participating in the transaction, he said.

He said there are no clear guidelines for the privatisation of BTC or a policy on how Batswana are going to participate. He also wondered why government was only targeting profitable organisations instead of privatising only those that were not performing well.

Saleshando cautioned that the government should learn from developed countries where big companies have collapsed. He said the recession has not spared Botswana, so the government should stop privatising.

He accused the government of abusing the national television to spread lies to unsuspecting Batswana about privatisation.

MP for Tlokweng, Olebile Gaborone, supported the motion saying only this week, Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Peter Siele, announced the liquidation of 22 companies resulting in job losses. He said the economy was going through a rough time and some companies were already retrenching staff and privatisation was likely to worsen the situation.

MPs from the ruling party did not participate in the debate. Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Nonofo Molefhi said government will go ahead with privatisation. He said that they are doing the process very carefully making sure that "there are no loopholes for failure".



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