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‘Kenewendo has softened up’

Publishing Date : 09 July, 2018

Author : REARABILWE RAMAPHANE

It has been hardly three months in office for Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo, but already critics are calling her out, accusing her of deviating from her bold stances. The 31 year old Specially Elected Member of Parliament (SEMP), detractors say she has turned ‘soft’.


It would appear, her last week interaction with members of the media, where she outlined her new ministry roadmap has attracted scrutiny, particularly from Alliance of Progressives Youth League President, Jacob Kelebeng who is of the view that the minister is either misinformed or deliberately feeding the public with wrong information.


 Minister Kenewendo told a press conference last week that her ministry had worked out a strategy to robustly combat hindrances in trade and impediments to ease of doing business, and in turn promote industrialization from both domestic and foreign investment. The bottom line was outlined as delivery of the much needed economic diversification and employment opportunities.


Further, Kenewendo had given a report on the Selibe Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) saying that since the infamous BCL mine closure, government had through the Phikwe Revitalization Strategy created over 750 jobs so far. Kelebeng told WeekendPost this week that Kenewendo’s statements on Selibe Phikwe were just her misleading the nation for political gain. “Our people in Phikwe are still jobless, so it is very difficult to appreciate which jobs the Minister was referring to,” noted Kelebeng.


The AP Youth Leader further told this publication that Kenewendo has since softened up compared to when she was still a back bencher in parliament and a member of the Public Accounts Committee. “She has now adopted a low note approach to addressing the very problems she was highlighting before becoming a minister, she is in the very ministry she has been scrutinizing, now we expect solutions as a matter of urgency,” asserted the AP leader. 


Kelebeng also underscored that it was imperative for Kenewendo to move swiftly to address what he termed incompetency and duplication of mandates between SPEDU and Former Bank of Botswana Governor Linah Mhohlo’s Phikwe Revitalization Strategy. “These are amongst other issues that Kenewendo raised when she arrived in parliament, we are not expecting her to quickly make changes but we need to appreciate consistency and the same seriousness in her tone and approach, but she has now began praising the same SPEDU and accommodating Linah Mhohlo whereas she is on record grilling MITI Permanent Secretary Peggy Serame about Linah Mhohlo’s role,” submitted Kelebeng.


Meanwhile, in Kenewendo’s defence Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) National Youth Executive Committee Vice Chairperson, Vuyo Yane told WeekendPost that the 31 year old Minister should be given time. “Apart from the fact that she is only a few months in office, she cannot be scaled the same. She is a minister now, she no longer just identifies problems she has to solve them and solving problems is a process,” said the BDP NYEC deputy leader.  Yane, who is a Specially Elected Councilor at Sowa Township Council submitted that in due time Kenewendo would crack the whip. “The key issue would be the implementation of this roadmap, and we can only hope for the best and support her, she will deliver,” he said.


Another issue that arose was the Minister’s stance on foreign retailer’s uptake of locally produced goods, the SEMP spoke robustly against what she termed exploitation of the local market by foreign companies. When answering a question at the recent Press Conference, Kenewendo highlighted that talks were ongoing with retailers, traders, products and service dealers to make them appreciate government’s intention on citizen economic empowerment.  It was noted that for instance some music products dealers at local malls were not retailing any locally produced music from Botswana artists.


However Kenewendo noted that her ministry would formulate a policy to engage all retailers across board into ways they can better appreciate Botswana products. “This is not the position she held prior a cabinet post, she was clear government wasn’t doing enough on several occasions when taking the former Trade Minister to Task,” a local Business columnist. “This matter cannot be addressed by policy, we need laws that can bind this retailer so Kenewendo needs to crack the whip and put things into legislative frameworks because she was talking about these things before being appointed to cabinet,” he said.

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