Home » Columns » Is Masisi delivering on his inaugural speech? (Part 9)

Is Masisi delivering on his inaugural speech? (Part 9)

Publishing Date : 21 May, 2019

NDULAMO ANTHONY MORIMA
EAGLE WATCH

This week, we are concluding the series through which we considered whether or not His Excellency the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, is delivering on his inaugural speech promises, commitments and undertakings. 


Last week dealt 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.


We also dealt 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. We also dealt 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 dealt with H.E Dr. Masisi’s promise to table, before Parliament, specific legislation on declaration of assets and liabilities.  We also dealt 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.


This week, we deal with H.E Dr. Masisi’s promise that, in line with the National Spatial Plan 2036, government will accelerate the function of spatial planning and access to land in order to give meaning to the aspirations of Batswana, especially the youth, stating that government will continue giving priority to the Youth when allocating land for agriculture and business purposes. We also deal with H.E Dr. Masisi’s affirmation that Botswana will continue upholding the principles of the rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights and separation of powers between the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature.


We also deal with his promise to maintain a neutral, apolitical and professional public service as one of the elements that Botswana prides herself with, urging all Batswana to be vigilant in order to maintain the peace and security that this country has enjoyed for more than five decades. We also deal with H.E Dr. Masisi’s promise to be steadfast in the fight against corruption, stating that that is imperative if we are to safeguard the hopes and dreams of all Batswana for current and future generations.


We also deal with his undertaking to continue strengthening oversight institutions and exacting the full might of the law to ensure that the fight against corruption in all its forms and manifestations is won. We also deal with H.E Dr. Masisi’s commitment that though Botswana is a small country, in terms of population, he will ensure that she continues to play an important role in the promotion of such global issues as respect for human rights, democracy, good governance, the rule of law, as well as the maintenance of international peace and security.


We also deal with his commitment to ensure that the conduct of Botswana’s foreign relations contributes to national development and the improvement of the living standards of our people, promising that, under his leadership, our relations with other countries will be enhanced for the benefit of Botswana and her economy.


We also deal with H.E Dr. Masisi’s promise that Botswana will continue contributing to regional efforts aimed at consolidating democracy, peace and security in the SADC region and beyond, stating that he will do his utmost to continually grow confidence in and of governance through a combination of new legislation, ethical codes and demonstrable and efficacious behaviours.


First, his promise that, in line with the National Spatial Plan 2036, government will accelerate the function of spatial planning and access to land in order to give meaning to the aspirations of Batswana. This is one area that H.E Dr. Masisi must prioritise if he is to have a lasting legacy for thousands of Batswana fail to realize their dreams because of lack of land. As it is, only the middle class and the rich are able to buy land since thousands are still on the Land Board’s waiting lists.


Second, his affirmation that Botswana will continue upholding the principles of the rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights and separation of powers. Thankfully, since rising to power H.E Dr. Masisi has not conducted himself or his government in a manner that is offensive to the rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights and separation of powers. 


Third, his promise to maintain a neutral, apolitical and professional public service. While Botswana’s public service is largely apolitical, especially at the lower echelons, the same cannot be said about it at the Permanent Secretary level. The Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP), Carter Morupisi, for instance, is a known BDP sympathiser. Naturally, those serving under him align with the BDP in order to gain his favour.


On the contrary, those not sympathetic the BDP, especially trade union activists and leaders have suffered victimisation through unwarranted transfers and non-promotions, something which has led to some of them aligning with the BDP in order to gain favour. Fourth, his promise to be steadfast in the fight against corruption. Though he has not acceded to calls for a judicial commission of enquiry to investigate the National Petroleum Fund and Pension Fund scandals, since he assumed office a number of high-profile prosecutions involving a High Court judge and former cabinet minister have been commenced.


Also, though no charges have yet been preferred against him in relation to his alleged corrupt activities, the arrest, detention and search of former Director General of the Directorate on Intelligence & Security Services (DISS), Colonel Isaac Kgosi, have made many believe in H.E Dr. Masisi’s promise to fight corruption without fear or favour. Yet, some have been cautious in applauding him, fearing that he may be using the fight against corruption as a pretext to fight political battles in his party, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).


This view became fortified when, during the build up to the BDP presidential elections, some BDP functionaries, mainly in the faction that supported Masisi’s challenger, Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, were reported to be under investigation by either the DISS, Botswana Unified Revenue Service(BURS) or the Directorate on Corruption & Economic Crime(DCEC).  


Fifth, his promise to ensure that Botswana continues to play an important role in the promotion of such global issues as respect for human rights, democracy, good governance, the rule of law, as well as the maintenance of international peace and security. Even under Masisi’s rule, Botswana continues to be a beacon in as far as the aforesaid tenets of democracy are concerned. It is, however, disconcerting that, in terms of the 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), she is deteriorating in good governance.



On the Rule of Law, overall, she scored 89.1%, scooping position 4, but considering the 10-year average of 2008 to 2017 she had an increasing deterioration of -5.7.  On Rights, overall, she scored 54.9%, taking position 14, but considering the 10-year average of 2008 to 2017 she had an increasing deterioration of -3.4.


Of course, this is a record which H.E Dr. Masisi inherited from his predecessor, but he was part of Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s government, in which he served as Vice President for about five years, during which time Botswana experienced the aforesaid deterioration. Sixth, his commitment to ensure that the conduct of Botswana’s foreign relations contributes to national development and the improvement of the living standards of our people.


If there is one thing that H.E Dr. Masisi has done well in the one year that he has been in office, it is repairing the damage that Dr. Khama had caused to our international relations and diplomacy. His reprioritisation of our relations with Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states means we can better leverage from the SADC Free Trade Area Agreement and the SADC/EU Economic Partnership Agreement. The affable relations he has reestablished with the African Union (AU) means we can better leverage from Africa’s Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.


H.E Dr. Masisi has relaunched Botswana into the world stage, potentially taking us back to the glory days of Dr. Khama’s predecessor, Festus Mogae and the late Sir Ketumile Masire in as far as international relations is concerned. Consequently, our chances of making maximum benefit from such international agreements as the World Trade Organisation Trade Facilitation Agreement and the United States sponsored African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) have become enhanced.    


Since assuming office, H.E Dr. Masisi has worked tirelessly to mend bilateral relations which had soured during the Khama regime, for instance with the Peoples’ Republic of China, a relationship which, if properly nurtured, may create thousands of jobs for our people.
Not only that. H.E Dr. Masisi has travelled the globe, nurturing already existing bilateral relations and creating new ones. His recent visit to Qatar is likely to bring dividends to such sectors as agriculture, beef imports, hotels, and ICT, which Ambassador Manyepedza P Lesetedi says the Qataris are interested in.


Seventh, his promise that Botswana will continue contributing to regional efforts aimed at consolidating democracy, peace and security in the SADC region and beyond. One hopes that as H.E Dr. Masisi travels the world he, behind closed doors, urges his counterparts to uphold the democratic ideal as a prerequisite for the maintenance of peace and security.  Botswana’s recent statement that she is going back to the days of silent diplomacy is, however, concerning. Her silence in the face of human rights vilations by some countries, for instance, may be interpreted as approval of such.

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