Opposition unshaken by Khama’s ‘high-speed’ plans

More roads are to be built in the next six months
More roads are to be built in the next six months

Opposition parties have received the Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) newly unveiled Economic Stimulus Package as an attempt by the ruling party to shore up its waning popularity.

This, they say, follows last year’s unfavourable general election results.

With its popular vote having dropped to an all-time low, the BDP has also lost seven by-elections this year, as the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) challenges its power.

The BDP had engaged consultants from Israel and hired elections manager, Alec Seametso in order to win the elections with good numbers, but it did not work out as planned.

However, the BDP did not rest on its laurels after winning the October elections on a popular vote of 47 percent.  It held a survey to find out  why its popularity had waned.

It became clear from their survey that Batswana’s cry of high unemployment, failure by government to provide land for them, and the unsatisfactory education standard amongst other things were responsible for the BDP’s dismal results.  On Saturday, President Ian Khama said the Economy Stimulus Package had been formulated after the general election and was being fine-tuned with finalisation due “within weeks”.

Khama said they would fast-track land servicing, with 37,000 plots for the coming year and address the issue of shortage of accommodation for teachers and nurses. 

The government will provide an additional 1,664 teachers’ quarters and 534 nurses’ quarters.

The shortage of classrooms will be addressed by building of 144 classrooms and 92 labs. The whole project is likely to cost billions of pula.

Meanwhile, the UDC dismissed Khama’s move as a sign of a party in panic mode as it is losing its grip on power. UDC spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa said what Khama announced over the weekend is nothing to be excited about as the government has always presented such promises.

“This is nothing new.  Khama and his government always make promises, but delivery and implementation have always been a problem,” he said.

Mohwasa added that the government should be focusing on improving the purchasing power of civil servants stating that they are not motivated and are not doing their best.

Mohwasa also said the strategy was not well thought out and could be because Khama does not care about the depleting foreign reserves as he knows that he will not be in power after 2018.

He further said this could be a trap for the UDC when it assumes state power in 2019 so that they find a mess waiting for them. He, however, said they hope that the projects would be implemented properly.

For Botswana Congress Party (BCP), the concern is not whether the move was politically motivated or not, but rather efficient.

“This could be a good idea.  We have always advised that when there is need, foreign reserves should be used to rescue us, but I am worried there is no mention of the figures.  We need to know that, we also need to be assured that Batswana qualified engineers will benefit over the Chinese,” BCP secretary general, Kentse Rammidi said.

Rammidi further said he was hoping for bold pronouncements with regard to education stating that government continues to spend loads of money on educating people who end up on the street.  He, however, said they hoped that jobs would be created in the process.

Political analyst, Lesole Machacha said the government of the day has realised that things were getting worse in the country hence the intervention. He, however, cautioned that there should be a plan in place to revive the reserves.

“We do not have water, electricity, jobs and other necessities.  The government acted right in doing so for as long as there is implementation,” he said. Machacha said it was not easy to classify the move as political as it is actually addressing the problems that currently exist in the country.

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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