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President Masisi delivers SONA today

05 Nov 2023

President Masisi delivers SONA today

The public awaits in anticipation President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi’s State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) at the Parliament building today. 

It marks the opening of the first meeting of the fifth session of the 12th Parliament and will be the last one before the next general elections as constitutionally expected in October next year.

The SONA is observed by many as a litmus test of the progress made looking at Dr Masisi’s priority agenda set during inauguration as the fifth President in 2019 in the quest to pursue his fresh five-year mandate.

President Masisi had singled out three key priority areas of job creation, improving service delivery both in the public and private sector as well as strengthening government structures in order to turn the country’s fortunes around. 

His roadmap resonates well with the Vision 2036 of attaining prosperity for all.

According to the President, key to providing meaningful and sustainable jobs was promotion of public-private partnerships in agriculture, mining, tourism, manufacturing, electronics, pharmaceuticals, as well as research and development.

However, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic presented challenging moments for President Masisi, having caused immense strain to the global economy and bringing about dire socio-economic situations.

Nonetheless, he forged through the challenging times. 

University of Botswana lecturer and political analyst, Dr Leonard Sesa said  it was important for Dr Masisi to give an update of what his roadmap had achieved.

Dr Sesa said one of the pertinent areas where Dr Masisi led government had pushed the bar to the limit was on the land allocation, especially residential.

Though not achieved as desired, Dr Sesa said the push call for the land authorities across the country to allocate 100 000 plots in a year had to a larger extent resulted in most of the hindrances that were delaying land allocations being addressed.

Dr Sesa also acknowledged that President Masisi came into power at a time when the country’s foreign relations were almost non-existent, and therefore was under pressure to, as a matter of urgency, hoist the country to its desired position of reputation on the world map.

Through the country’s Foreign Policy, Dr Sesa said President Masisi was racing against the clock, chasing equally competing and advanced nations to sell what the country could offer to the world in terms of its national interests and the expertise that its people could offer to the world.

He credited President Masisi for switching the global spotlight on Botswana as evidenced by the growing number of world-class conferences and meetings hosted by the country, grabbing the Kimberly Process Secretariat, getting the position of SADC Executive Secretary, hosting twice the Forbes Africa Under 30 summit and other milestone events such as the US-Africa Summit and the WHO regional committee for Africa meeting.

On the improvement of potable water supply, Dr Sesa said the ongoing water reticulation projects across the country where water sources were being clustered would ultimately address water woes in almost all the villages in the country.

Relating to infrastructural development, Dr Sesa noted challenges of poor workmanship across the country, resulting in projects being abandoned, cost escalation and delivery of sub-standard projects.

Acknowledging the challenge at hand, which was draining government coffers and casting doubt on the government policy of moving towards empowering local businesses as they were mostly caught in the wrong, a swift move was taken to engage a robust and result-orientated project delivery model dubbed, Development Manager (DM).

Dr Sesa said if well executed, the DM model would deliver projects of desired quality on time and within budget.

“This will also grow and restore confidence in the local contractors, suppliers and manufacturers as they will be carried along by reputable companies that have been engaged as DM to take a lead in the development landscape,” he said.

Though riddled by the COVID-19 pandemic,Dr Sesa had stated that the health fraternity was one of the sectors where government must double if not triple its efforts. While learning from the aftermath of the pandemic, which at the same time could open up new opportunities, Mr Sesa said government must timely respond to some new health complications that resulted from COVID-19.

He also noted a shortage of drugs and medicine for which government must find solutions.

However, Dr Sesa said all was not lost, noting as commendable, the growth of the private sector in the medical fraternity and efforts made by government to equip Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital.

In collaboration with private health practitioners, though not adequately equipped to be at par with health challenges, Dr Sesa said, patients in need of specialised assistance not available at government hospitals were being referred to either local private hospitals or other capable health facilities in other countries.

Relating to rising statistics of unemployment, including those with tertiary qualifications, Dr Sesa said learning institutions must equally be held accountable, as they must assess the employment market and ensure that what they offered in terms of curriculum would add value to the labour market.

“UB has started a programme that is focused on addressing the current mismatch where institutions produce graduates with qualifications that are not tailor made to suit the labour market needs,” he said.

Dr Sesa also added that President Masisi had done tremendously well by coming up with programmes aimed at developing the agricultural sector.

Therefore, he said exploring the agricultural value chain was one of the sectors that the public must fully explore in order to benefit from the programmes that were lined up in the sector.

Among them, Mr Sesa cited the development of the livestock sector including the Presidential bull, rams and bucks donation initiative, rejuvenation of the use of artificial insemination and embryo transplant.

He said the recently launched Temo Letlotlo programme was also an initiative that the farming community must take advantage of. 

He said the arable agriculture development programme catered for all sectors of society, including small and large-scale farmers.

The ban on some of the horticultural imports was also hailed as a positive move under President Masisi’s leadership.

Dr Sesa said the President had performed well in terms of empowering women. 

He said under his leadership deserving women were upgraded to leadership positions.

Therefore, Dr Sesa said the 2023 SONA must put forward what was expected as informed by what was promised from the start. 

“I am expecting to hear how much the BDP-led government has achieved under President Masisi guided by what is in the party manifesto, government policies and programmes as well as his initiatives,” he said. Ends


Source : BOPA

Author : Moshe Galeragwe

Location : GABORONE

Event : SONA preview

Date : 05 Nov 2023