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Government delivers on promises

31 Mar 2023

April 1, 2023 marks President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi’s fifth year in office. It is therefore fitting that his achievements or lack thereof be put under scrutiny.

This will be done on the background of the promises he made during his 2019 campaign trail.

Peradventure, the constitutional review is a good place to start as President Masisi and the BDP ardently promised it to Batswana during the 2019 general election campaign. The promise was that a comprehensive review of the constitution would be top of the government agenda.

So great was the need that a whole section - Chapter 4 of the BDP Elections manifesto for 2019 to 2024 on Governance, Rule of Law and Society was a commitment to a comprehensive review of the Botswana constitution.

President Masisi and the BDP vowed that should Batswana bestow upon them yet another five-year mandate to reign over the affairs of Botswana, the constitutional review will be top of the government’s agenda.

It is however, worth noting that there have been instances in the past where parts of the supreme law of the land had been amended. A case in point being the review of Sections 77, 78 and 79 of the constitution of Botswana, but nothing as comprehensive.

Just two-years into his reign, 17 December 2021 to be precise, President Masisi appointed the Presidential Commission of Enquiry into the review of the Constitution of Botswana.

Thus the strong contingent of 23 Commissioners were, for the first time in the history of Botswana, given the latitude to overhaul the constitution in its entirety.

From the 2nd February 2022 to July 12 of 2022, the commission embarked on an extensive tour of Botswana, soliciting ideas and viewpoints from Batswana of different walks of life. Opinions from non-governmental organisations were also been incorporated.

The commissioners traversed over 27 686 kilometres by road and 30 hours by air to execute their mandate.

September 2022, saw the commissioners knocking on President Masisi’s door to present a detailed report containing the findings and recommendations for his consideration.

The President commended the commissioners for playing a role in exhibiting the country’s democracy and the rule of law; their patriotism in executing their mandate within the stipulated time frame and within the context of the country’s values and ethos.

“It is a great honour to applaud the entire commission on behalf of Batswana, for delicately carrying out the commission of inquiry on the constitutional review in a democratic and transparent manner,” President Masisi said.

He said the entire exercise epitomised the pillars of democracy, transparency and the rule of law that Botswana was renowned for.


New Districts

President Masisi’s administration is also overseeing the establishment of 22 new districts. Yet another milestone that has been a top priority for him. Contrary to those opposed to the development, the current administration has always maintained that the restructuring of councils was for administrative expediency and would not in any way affect the jurisdiction and established practices of Bogosi, Local Government and Rural Development.

Portfolio Minister, Kgotla Autlwetse reiterated that the move was borne out of Batswana’s desire for a devolved system of governance where the power to make decisions and avail resources were fully given to the local government. Something he concurred would help address key national challenges among them; public sector efficiency, coordination of government initiatives at the district level, accountability, citizen participation and many others.

The sentiments were given the thumbs up by the Botswana Democratic Party national council, in mid-2022, by endorsing the decision to upgrade all sub-districts into fully fledged districts.

The BDP strongly argued that decentralisation would improve access to social services and other community activities and contribute immensely to the economic development, health and quality of life of rural communities as residents will access services effortlessly.

“Through decentralisation, Batswana will continue to be empowered to fully participate in planning, implementing and managing own development processes,” the chairperson of the BDP’s Communications and International relations sub-committee, Mr Kagelelo Kentse said at the party national council.

President Masisi reminded all and sundry during the national council that the BDP-led government had resolved to assist Batswana to have a meaningful share in the economy of their country through multiple path ways such as policy and land reforms, digitisation, as well as economic inclusion.

The exercise, which will be done in two phases, will cost the government a whooping P63 million.


Public Sector Reforms

Public sector reforms, with a view to promote efficiency and effectiveness, have also been at the heart of Dr Masisi’s administration.

Meanwhile, in September 2020, the government developed an Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan (ERTP) whose intention was to reboot the economy and cushion it from the unprecedented shock brought about by COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of P14.5 billion was allocated for the implementation of this economic reform, with President Masisi saying then that the plan was primarily a vehicle through which government could deliver the promises made to the electorate in 2019.

The government also set up an Industry Support Fund to the tune of P1.3 billion to support local businesses.


Reset Agenda

The Reset Agenda is yet another reform that was established to spur growth.

Its priorities were among others; to save Botswana’s population from COVID-19, through the implementation of life-saving programmes that included a successful and timely vaccination programme, to align Botswana government machinery to the Presidential Agenda, digitization to unlock and enable high productivity, value chain development as well as a mind-set change.

Numerous other reforms have been developed within the public sector in arrears such as Education, Health, Water, E-Government, Ease of doing business and many others. Ends

Source : BOPA

Author : Mooketsi Mojalemotho


Event : Interview

Date : 31 Mar 2023