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The budget speech – Talk is cheap, the people need jobs (Part 2)

KGOSIETSILE NGAKAAGAE
It makes no sense for the budget (paragraph 8) to be predicated by Vision 2036.

Vision 2036, is absolute tripe. We are just off another wild goose chase in Vision 2016 that the BDP government refused flatly, to account for. To postpone what they were supposed to have achieved in 2016 by a further 20 years is fraudulent. It is fraudulent because, the people responsible for this budget, in particular, the President, will not be around to account. His presidential tenure is limited to two five year terms, if he is lucky.

There are two main reasons why the Presidential constitutional term has been set at a maximum ten years. Firstly, to tame the wild enterprises and urges that come with the taste of power. It is for the Nkuruziza and Kabila variety. Secondly, to ensure that incoming presidents have sufficient opportunity, subject to the popular mandate, to see their development visions and agendas through. As such vision 2016, can only be about long terms principles and aspirations. We need to hear about President Masisi’s vision 2028. We need to see it, even if it issues from the midterm review of the current National Development Plan. There is need for the President to set a new economic targets consistent with his expressed aspirations. One thing is eroding the confidence so many had on President Masisi. It is the lack of a clear blueprint on where we are going with his presidency. He is the only man paid with state money, who has not committed to a performance bond. Our President seems fixated on being, at least morally, a better president than former President Khama. In doing so, he is offering himself as a consolation prize. That is exactly what we do not need. We need a better economy, not a morally better president.

We were promised job creation in the run up to the 2019, national elections. The President now says that he only promised a conductive environment for job creation. The budget speech pays scant regard to the subject. But this issue cannot go away. Nor will it be washed away in semantics. We do not really care whether the President creates a conducive environment or delivers jobs as he delivers blankets at the kgotla. The people, old and young, need jobs however they come and if the government of the day cannot deliver on the same, then he can never be better than former President Khama. Former President Khama delivered more blankets than he delivered jobs. Yet, it was not the winter people were concerned about. It was jobs.

In any case, the increase in private sector jobs is a key indicator of economic growth. There is no running away from

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such an all-important responsibility.

Some apologists will have us believe we are too impatient with the president. What patience van you demand of people after fifty four years of yearly refreshed promises. We have, regrettably, begun a new era of brinksmanship. There is no target for how many jobs would have been created by the end of the year 2020 and we need such targets as well as how they will be generated. Instead, what we get is communication from the government’s communications office on presidential vehicle plate numbers and how former President Khama is not the only one who has had his benefits reviewed from time to time. We are being bombarded with post summit press conferences which constitute nothing but empty rhetoric. To use the words of a learned friend, the nation is being “romanced with Thornhill English”. The President said the other day in reference to his tenure in office; “go tsile go nna monate”. But clearly, the foreplay is taking too long. The nation is about to sing; “fologa o a palelwa”. President Masisi needs to double up. He seems to be enjoying his tiff with Khama. It is keeping the nation politically distracted from the real socio economic realities. The nation is simply receiving no cure under him. He is simply keeping it on palliative care.

A local economist, Sennye Obuseng, is quoted as having said that the Department of Secondary Education only spent 31.4% of their last budget allocation (2019/2020), and that Special Education spent only 1.1% of allocated funds. You heard that; 1.1%. Now, that is virtually criminal. We are dealing here with children’s welfare on one hand and people in need of special assistance on the other. Both categories should be best served. Of course, their money will go back to government central coffers in April.

But this is no new phenomenon. It is a chronic disease with the BDP government going down many decades. As usual, there have been threats to cure it but nothing has happened.  Of course, these details do not appear on the budget speech. They are politically embarrassing. What they do mean though, is that we are budgeting for the same things year after year.

They mean that allocated money is not being released into the economy to improve the lives of those who need it. That the Department of Primary Education spent only 65.6% of their budget means that our children should not be riding donkey carts to school. The figures mean that funds are not being released into the economy to stimulate job creation. They prove that indeed, talk is cheap.



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