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Botswana needs new economic direction

Publishing Date : 14 May, 2018


The president of Alliance for Progressives (AP), Ndaba Gaolathe has said that through the implementation of a robust Local Economic Development (LED) framework, the City of Francistown can be turned into a self-sustaining city with its own local government playing a central role in its economic development. Gaolathe made these remarks in Francistown recently where he was launching their council candidate for the upcoming Moselewapula Ward bye-election.

Gaolathe argued that a realistic LED strategy when properly implemented, should aim at localising sustainable development goals at district level to build self-sustaining local governments benefiting from available economic resources in various localities. Gaolathe who is regarded a guru of economics and finance, steered clear of freedom square politics unlike speakers before him who focused on attacking their opponents in other political parties.

He chose instead to focus on explaining an economic path that his party wishes for Batswana, thereby canvassing a line of thinking that their council candidate, Odireleng Ditshotlo is expected to take to council. He pointed out that his party advocates for a shift in economic development model to adopt an approach that will promote and strengthen local governments to be in control of the local economy in their various districts. Gaolathe said that LED is a useful approach for investment where partnerships can be forged with different investors across different sectors to unlock economic value from the available resources in different regions.

Gaolathe likened Francistown to Bloemfontein, the capital city of the Province of Free State in South Africa. Bloemfontein is also the judicial capital of South Africa. The AP president suggested that the City of Francistown can also be allocated important services in a similar fashion and so with other places. He pointed out that Botswana needs strategies that will support decentralisation of services from central government while at the same time strengthening service distribution at local government. He emphasised that it was time local authorities shifted focus from just provision of services and delivery to taking a central role in economic development.

He stressed that service delivery must be rendered with a developmental focus in mind as local authorities are supposed to create and facilitate enabling environments to attract investors who will set up businesses to boost the local economy. Because of this role, Gaolathe emphasised the importance of taking seriously the work of local government. He noted further that for councils to be able to facilitate robust local economies, they first formulate and implement interventions that will make them attractive places not only to do business but also as safe places to live in.

He remarked that understanding the LED approach can bring about enterprise development interventions as well as interventions that can help alleviate poverty. Gaolathe explained that this new direction will help local authorities to be able to conduct assessments to establish the state of the economy in their respective localities and develop problem-solving strategies to address the identified weaknesses within each local economy.

“We must embrace the Local Economic Development approach to diversifying our local economies, as this type of approach can help local authorities to realise the full economic potential of different regions,” said Ndaba. The AP leader emphasised the need to institutionalise LED in local authorities as a fundamental factor in the creation of sustainable economies. He said councils must be supported to develop implementable and enabling policies, adding that LED is being recognised in other governments in the region as a strategic enabler for socio-economic development. Gaolathe explained that it is the mandate of the local government to promote social and economic development in their respective areas.

He noted however that to achieve the LED objectives, there is need for transformative leadership that takes seriously the plight of the plight, a leadership with policy makers with a different mind-set to champion the shift from service delivery to being enablers of economic development. He pleaded with the people of Moselewapula Ward and the vast Francistown West constituency to rally behind Alliance for Progressives as it the only party with the calibre of leaders that can bring to the table, transformational interventions that the economy of their city needs.

He further pleaded with residents of the ward to ensure that their candidate, Ditshotlo emerges the victor on the day of the election. Moselewapula Ward vacancy was created by the death of Lechedzani Modenga of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) who won the ward in the 2014 General Election. Ditshotlo also contested the 2014 elections as a Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). 

Reuben Ketlhoilwe of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) who also lost to the late Modenga in 2014 will represent UDC while BDP will be represented by Gilbert Boikhutso who won party primaries amidst accusations of voter trafficking. Gilbert was launched on the same day as the AP candidate last Saturday, with their base adjacent to each other.



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