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COVID-19 challenge: Towards economic transformation

One newspaper warns of an imminent recession.

To be sure, we have been expecting a global recession. Indications are that the world’s fourth biggest economy, Japan, is already in recession.

To be combating a pandemic and suffering a recession all in one, is no mean feat especially when the cause of the recession is something about which you have hardly any control and requires massive expenditure of finite and fast dwindling resources. The last television address by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Matsheka, suggested that we may not be able to hold on for much longer. The nation is fast going broke. In time, we may be confronted with further economic challenges, including hunger and shortage of drugs. God knows what measures government may have to put in place to fix such a situation. Taxes may be reviewed. What more; we may go into debt and end up as a vassal state for the Chinaman.

 Looking back, you know we could be better off. We could be much better off, but we wasted money. This is the time when you regret spending P120million on an independence strip tease. It is the time when you regret spending billions on the looting extravaganza called the ESP. It is the time when you regret vapourising P600m on e-governance and close to a billion on a glass project that never produced a hand mirror. It’s the time when you regret spending disaster management funds on the DIS, and blowing billions worth of alcohol levy on corrupt projects.

It is the time when you regret corruptly allowing 60% of our rightful tourism revenue earnings to be paid up in other countries. Yes, we cannot un-ring the bell. We have lost money, primarily due to corruption by politicians who were more after their own interests than after national welfare. International rating organisations – the best defence of corrupt politicians - will not be there to bear us out. They will simply downgrade us to junk status and BBC will record how an economic miracle has overnight become a basket case.

Sadly, the same President that now presides over this mess was part of the very government that created it. The question is; will he be able to fix it? Your guess is as good as mine.

I don’t think fixing our economy is really that much of a big deal. We know what to do. For example, we know that we must achieve self-sufficiency in food production. We have the land and surely we have the water, even if we speak underground water. We have thousands of graduates from the agricultural sector who wake up everyday to do nothing.

One BMW 7series ministerial car can buy six tractors to plough all

of the Greater Mahalapye Area. Moreover, we have many graduates in other sectors who only need to be re-tooled and re-skilled to serve this sector. In that way, we would seriously reduce the import-export deficit. The problem with us is that we have never been able to monetise our human capital. Our educated people simply manage and consume diamond capital. They produce nothing.

Take big millers like Bolux.  Where do they source their raw materials? I do not know, but I doubt they procure most of their grains locally. What would it take to ensure that they are resourced from home. I doubt that with proper quality assurances they would be averse to that. To achieve all that, we will need new thinking that bothers on adventurism. It is all perfectly achievable. The question is; why is not being done? Some politician is likely asking; what will I benefit from that. Lord, have mercy. Our country does not need ostrich farms. Government must start expropriating. Don’t tell me about expropriating local five hector holdings. That is about all the average Motswana has to sing about in the national anthem. If you do, I would immediately seek a Chinaman or Indian to the national anthem into their languages and would never sing the national anthem in Setswana again.

We can’t have situations where farms are status symbols. But what can we expect. Most, were corruptly obtained. Government must start expropriating. Expropriation must be whole or in part. If you cannot show what you are doing with your farm, you should lease it to government (short of expropriation) who shall lease it to 20 CEDA funded BCA graduates who can produce. I say this advisedly, amongst others, because I have noticed a particular trend in my line of work. Because some Batswana cannot optimise value in their farms, they end up going into long leases with foreigners and lose their land over badly negotiated and drafted contracts.

Sadly, our leaders are not concerned about these things. These are just departmental worries. Our leaders are more interested in how they can justify capital outlay and how they can benefit from it. They are interested in what they can get from the Chinese and Arab economic hitman. They are interested into how they can benefit downward in lucrative tender deals with Indian businessmen. Priorities must change. Economic transformation can no longer just be a byword.

As it is, nothing is being done to ensure our stolen 60% in tourism revenue comes back home. Nothing is being done to ensure the plastic levy is being collected. We must rethink the future of this nation, especially the agricultural sector.

Chief On Friday



Purging the DIS

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