Create jobs - Saleshando

Strategist: Saleshando says Botswana needs an ambitious leader PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
Strategist: Saleshando says Botswana needs an ambitious leader PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE

The Leader of Opposition (LoO) in Parliament, Dumelang Saleshando says the country needs an ambitious leader who could come up with strategies to create employment after the COVID-19 pandemic.

He expressed worry that instead of creating the much needed jobs for locals, government ministries had engaged foreign consultants or foreign-based service providers.

Responding to the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Wednesday, Saleshando said all government ministries have procurement budgets whose payments flow directly into the accounts of foreign-owned companies.

“If President Mokgweetsi Masisi was to direct his ministers to present a 12-monthly plan of redirecting procurements from external sources to domestic ones, many jobs that are externalised by foreign purchases would open up for Batswana,” he said.

Recently, Saleshando pointed out that the Ministry of Basic Education, the Ministry that annually receives the lion’s share of the budget to development skills, announced that it had employed foreign nationals for roles such as curriculum development and evaluation at director level.

Saleshando challenged the Masisi-led government to commit the mining companies to process their products locally and the fact that mineral beneficiation remains a small proportion of what is mined in Botswana calling it a national shame.

He further stated that the government cannot limit itself to be a nation of diggers that believe what has been dug from under our soils should be a source of employment in foreign countries. In addition, he said there is need to respect the right of people to work and open up mineral beneficiation companies in Botswana.

He said one typical example of a parastatal that lacks ambition is Air Botswana. “I represent a constituency that is home to one of the busiest airports in the region,” he noted.

Saleshando said the government should adopt an aggressive plan for green energy and with key agreements being signed in Glasgow on reducing carbon emissions, Botswana remains a side player that seems not to know where the rest of the world is heading.

He said with 60% of the national electricity demand met from domestic generation, there is a big opportunity for Botswana to embrace solar in a more ambitious way.

Saleshando said the Botswana leadership needs to now go beyond politics of mischief on the issue of hemp. He added there are facts around hemp and the number of countries legalising the cultivation of the plant is increasing globally, by weight, hemp seeds contain as much protein as beef, some hemp products are sold in Botswana and the list of products manufactured from hemp include ropes, plastics, oils and vanishes, concrete, paper, jewellery, energy drinks, textiles amongst others.

On education, Saleshando said one of the reasons why the Botswana's educational sector is underperformed despite huge investment, is the fact that the country does not have developed pre-primary infrastructure.

With the exception of limited pre-primary schools in the urban centres, Saleshando felt that most students are not exposed to what has become standard pre-primary schooling for children. The one-year reception classes offered in public schools do not equip those enrolled with the foundation offered to students attending private pre-primary schools.

He said the proposal by his party Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to offer unemployed teachers and those willing to opt for early retirement to set up pre-primary schools on the back of government sponsorship for the enrolled students presents numerous benefits.

“Through this intervention, jobs will be created in the most labour intensive layer of our education system as more than one teacher is assigned to not more than 20 students. Additionally, our students will be better prepared for primary education and this should have a positive impact on the quality of our graduates from primary to secondary,” he said.

He further called on the government to change its approach to funding local entrepreneurs.

Saleshando, who is also the UDC vice president said the idea that Youth Development Fund should be allocated to all constituencies equally on an annual basis defies logic, rather disbursements are informed by prospects of business success and the abilities of the promoters.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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