Home » Columns » Is Masisi delivering on his inaugural speech? (Part 8)

Is Masisi delivering on his inaugural speech? (Part 8)

Publishing Date : 14 May, 2019

NDULAMO ANTHONY MORIMA
EAGLE WATCH


This week, we are continuing with this series whose purpose is to consider whether or not His Excellency the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, is delivering on his inaugural speech promises, commitments and undertakings.  


Last week we dealt with H.E Dr. Masisi’s commitment that, in line with Vision 2036, which he said is aligned to the 2030 United Nations Agenda on Sustainable Development and Africa’s Agenda 2063, investment in research, science, technology and innovation will be prioritised to enable Botswana’s transformation into a knowledge-based economy.


We also dealt with H.E Dr. Masisi’s undertaking to ensure that the transformation of education and training, through the Human Resource Development Strategy of 2009, receives all the necessary support in order to ensure that education meets the needs of industry. We also dealt with H.E Dr. Masisi’s assurance to Batswana that, as part of the reforms proposed by the Education Sector Strategic Plan 2015-2020, his government will introduce pre-primary education as well as expanding such school facilities as classrooms, teachers’ quarters and building new primary and secondary schools throughout the country to respond to the growing population of our towns, villages and settlements.


We also dealt with H.E Dr. Masisi’s promise that his government will continue to focus and intensify the maintenance of the existing school facilities to ensure an enabling environment for effective delivery of the education, learning and training programmes. H.E Dr. Masisi promised that his government will not hesitate to intervene, where necessary, to cause the inclusion of new primary and secondary schools in the current NDP11 as per the dictates of Botswana’s population dynamics.


This, he said, will all be done to to improve the quality of our education system as well as ensuring universal access to pre-primary, primary and secondary education. We considered how far H.E Dr. Masisi’s government has moved in that regard. We also dealt with H.E Dr. Masisi’s undertaking that his government will also continue intensifying and sharpening teacher training, re-training and retooling to build their capacity to adapt to the ever-changing education environment, especially in the areas of ICT.


This week deal with H.E Dr. Masisi’s assurance to Batswana that through such programmes as Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agricultural Development (ISPAAD) and the Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development (LIMID), his government will continue to strive for and intensify the commercialisation of the agricultural sector.


This, he said, is cardinal if agriculture is to contribute to economic growth, diversification and the achievement of food security at household and national levels. He said his government will, in order to boost agricultural output, start an aggressive programme of land use intensification while protecting the inalienable rights of land holders. We also deal with his promise that his government will continue to monitor adherence to the Tourism Regulations of 1996 to accommodate the reservation of some license category for citizens which will subsequently increase their participation in tourism.


This, he said, is a must do if the tourism sector is to significantly contribute to the growth and diversification of Botswana’s economy away from minerals, especially diamonds. We also deal with H.E Dr. Masisi undertaking that his government will, additionally, rejuvenate the capacity of citizens to participate more meaningfully in the tourism sector, stating that steps will be taken to ensure that game farming, as an enterprise, is promoted so that it becomes attractive and profitable.


We also deal with H.E Dr. Masisi’s promise to table, before Parliament, specific legislation on declaration of assets and liabilities. We also deal with H.E Dr. Masisi’s reaffirmation that government will continue the HIV and AIDS interventions by combining treatment, care and support, stating that a rejuvenated attention on the major determinants of our national health practices including the manner of response to HIV and AIDS will be given.


First, the tabling of legislation on declaration of assets and liabilities. This would have, no doubt, been a quick wing that could have delivered H.E Dr. Masisi immediate political mileage, yet more than a year since his inauguration nothing has moved in that regard. This, despite the fact that immediately before he ascended to the presidency Botswana was, and still is, riddled by corruption scandals of hitherto unknown proportions, one of which is the National Petroleum Fund scandal.


One, therefore, wonders whether there is hope that H.E Dr. Masisi would facilitate the enactment of such long awaited legislation as the Access to Information Act, legislation which has little support in his party, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Second, H.E Dr. Masisi’s commitment that his government will continue to strive for and intensify the commercialisation of the agricultural sector. In my view, H.E Dr. Masisi’s predecessor, Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, had more commitment and passion in this area than H.E Dr. Masisi.


Though such programmes as ISPAAD and LIMID did not bring the dividends they were expected to yield during his reign, Dr. Khama could not be faulted for lack of political will. What was lacking was the implementation capacity. On the contrary, despite having gained Dr. Khama’s favour because of his passion for poverty eradication programmes, something which gained him the presidency, such programmes do not seem to be H.E Dr. Masisi priority. He has not yet identified himself as pro-agriculture.


Yet, H.E Dr. Masisi rightly identified agriculture as cardinal for economic growth, diversification and the achievement of food security at household and national levels. One wonders why he has not given it the attention it deserves. Third, H.E Dr. Masisi’s commitment to start an aggressive programme of land use intensification while protecting the inalienable rights of land holders. This, he rightly said, is critical to boost agricultural output. How can there be intensification of land use when the efforts to commercialise agriculture are so negligible? Surely, commercialisation of agriculture is the main way through which intensification of land use can be achieved.


Fourth, H.E Dr. Masisi’s promise that his government will continue to monitor adherence to the Tourism Regulations of 1996 to accommodate the reservation of some license category for citizens which will subsequently increase their participation in tourism. Though we are not yet in a position to determine the progress in this area, one thing we can say without fear of contradiction is that H.E Dr. Masisi has made citizen empowerment in the tourism sector a priority.


His stance on such tourism related issues as the hunting ban, the need to manage elephant populations and empowerment of citizens to enter the tourism industry has been unequivocal. It is needless to say that rejuvenating citizens’ capacity to participate more meaningfully in the tourism sector through such ventures as game farming can go a long way in diversifying our economy.


Lastly, H.E Dr. Masisi’s reaffirmation that government will continue the HIV and AIDS interventions. Incontrovertibly, this is one area that we continue to excel in. Our HIV and AIDS treatment, care and support, programme continues to be hailed as one of the best in the world.
However, just like his predecessor, H.E Dr. Masisi has not, like former President Festus Mogae, for instance, taken the lead role in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Perhaps it is because HIV and AIDS is no longer at the pandemic levels it was during Mogae’s tenure, but he has to take leadership nonetheless lest some people rest on their laurels to their peril.

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