We join those welcoming the decision by Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) to rename itself into Business Botswana. The change also involves the adoption of a revised Constitution. This points to a major reorganisation because a changing a name without the constitution would have been superficial. Change of names amount to nothing if deep and serious changes in status quo are not part of that.
The name itself is short and precise; as opposed to the long sentence that made BOCCIM. The organisation now needs to embark on a rigorous campaign to take the name to its general membership and other stakeholders.
While it was necessary for BOCCIM to undergo changes for the purpose of remaining relevant in the ever changing business environment, it is also vital the organisation changes its way of doing things. Prompt service delivery and meeting all members’ expectations is of paramount importance. The organisation’s way of doing business must be fully transformed. In this regard greater comfort comes from the fact that the constitution has also been reviewed. The trust and hope is that new provisions which have broadened the scope of the organisation have also created systems of enhanced accountability and transparency.
In growing from just being an advocacy organisation, one trusts that more focus will be on members’ welfare and promotion of healthy competitive behaviours among members. With the changing business landscape and dynamics the voice of business must be unequivocal and sharp in protecting members’ interests. It starts with increasing capacity for research across sectors with more emphasis being looking into the future.
The question at this stage would be the role BOCCIM played years back to forewarn the government for example about the looming power and water challenges and even more than that – to have warned their members about preparing for the worst outages and water shortage this country has ever had. Can therefore BOCCIM as it dies, pride itself that it was not complacent to warn its members? If it didn’t do anything proactively, it carries part of the blame for the unfolding saga.
We wish Business Botswana rises to the occasion and protect all business interests from small to big players and agitate for fair play. Among others it should strongly agitate for government to create an enabling environment for business to thrive. Government should remain a regulator and policymaker and dis-invest from business. The private sector can only be strong if it does not face competition from the very government that must be creating policies and equally rendering support for struggling sector. In most instances, it is the government that leads to the collapse of businesses by competing against it. If it is not competing government officials are too slow to meet the expectations of business. They take too long to process payment for private businesses that do the jobs for them. Understandably, most public servants do not know what it takes to run a business – to be a start-up that requires every Thebe for cash flow purposes. Small businesses have folded and closed shop as a result of piling of bills while government officials take their time, some acting big and more important. Business Botswana must intervene and stop this tendency. It should further act to stop collusion among bidders and anti-competitive behaviours that are so rife. It should have regulation and systems by which members that are found to be at fault are severely punished. Even more serious Business Botswana must have powers to have such companies deregistered.