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Expropriate land and give unemployed graduates a chance

This year’s budget must focus on sectors of the economy that can stimulate sustainable job creation and help citizens create jobs for themselves and others.

Otherwise it should just be posted online and Dr. Thapelo Matsheka should go to Bluetree and play golf. True, we like the pomp and ceremony that comes with the event but in the end, it is all useless and a waste of security personnel that should be patrolling Mogoditshane. Kagiso Thutwe will not be there anymore with his strange, colourful outfits and surely Mma Tshireletso might not be there with her catchy headgear. To make matters worse, Bogolo Kenewendo will likely not be there either; so what will really be there to see. I know for a fact they will not  deploy female soldiers on ceremonial horses; only ugly male soldiers and policemen. Of course we know Dr. Matsheka and we know Dr. Edwin Dikoloti. My good friend Tumisang Healy was in my office the other day.

I was listening to the President’s interview in Davos. One thing you cannot take away from Maru-a-Pula schooled kids is that they speak very good English and our President is one such. What more, they know how to hold their own in front of the camera which is why I want my children to go that school. Our President was of course in his element but neither his nor Dr. Matsheka’s English will resolve our unemployment situation.  My good friend Edward Tswaipe was right when he said that unemployment is Botswana’s single biggest threat to national security. At the rate we are going, we will soon have crime committed by educated thugs who will be a nightmare to law enforcement. We might just end up like one fellow African country the name of which is best left unsaid.

In Davos, the President maintained that a judicial resolution of disputes is our way of life and that the ongoing election petitions and the resultant political uncertainty that comes with the same, cannot stand on the way of government’s efforts towards economic planning. He was right. That only meant one thing, though; that there can be no political excuse for failure. So the man has his work cut out for him. Only through measurable reform initiatives backed up by prudent resource deployment and management will he avoid the unenviable fate of being the first President to lose power to the opposition. More than a hundred thousand citizens roam the streets. There is ever growing despondency from the unemployment situation. The Budget speech will serve as a key indicator as to whether we are moving forward or whether we will just be marking time, as we have been, for the last ten years. President Masisi has the benefit of a largely

fresh and educated cabinet, thanks to primary and national election losses which claimed the scalps of many a party heavyweight. The expectation, is that this motley lot will usher in a transformative wave of fresh ideas, initiatives and policies that will save a nation in a terminal state of socio economic decay.

Unemployment remains the country’s immediate challenge and by all means, it is the singular problem that, if left unchecked, shall cost the BDP government in 2024. Our education churned out and continued to churn out employees by their thousands yearly. We had policies like Young Framers Fund rolled out to youth who had no land whilst farms were corruptly grabbed by the ruling elite and those with connections to corrupt land board officials. Expropriation of land to allow young people to meaningfully participate in the agricultural sector must feature in the budget speech as a specific imperative. The price for land is ever increasing, and I expect to hear how much government has deployed towards recovering land from over-landed land barons to give young unemployed graduates a chance to participate in the economy. That is, if the land will not be taken for free, Malema style. I do not see any serious young person or adult being sold recycled dreams again five years from now. We welcome the electric car if it will ever come, Mr. President but right now, young people need employment opportunities. I am talking about both jobs and self-employment. There are individuals who hold as many as eight farms all grossly under-utilised while the unemployed have no land to participate in the agricultural sector. Just take seven farms and leave them with one, Mr President.

The President ascended on a crest wave of popular sympathy thanks to his feuds with his predecessor. His first rhetoric was about putting Batswana at the centre of government’s economic initiatives and policies.  It is time to live up to his rhetoric.  We have already seen policies being pronounced or suggested but he has only scraped the surface. They will not make Batswana self sufficient in food production and wont reduce the import bill. Time is running out. I do not think the UDC will repeat its 2019 mistakes in 2024, except of course, if President Masisi can significantly tackle the unemployment problem. One way of doing that is by making land available to the unemployed graduates through expropriation and short term leases. But so intimate is the connection between the ruling party and the land barons that this is one sector which will forever be ignored. We wait, Dr. Matsheka.

Chief On Friday



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