President Ian Khama on Tuesday appointed a 34 member Presidential Task Team on the development of a new long term vision for Botswana. The team is expected to take over from the Vision 2016 team whose mandate comes to an end September next year as Botswana celebrates golden jubilee. Vision 2016 was introduced by the country’s second President Sir Ketumile Masire in 1996 whose aim was to ensure prosperity for all by 2016 and covered a twenty year period, guiding the country’s national development agenda.
Launching the Task Team Khama said his government came up with a new vision, Vision 2036 which he said will serve the platform for national development post 2016. Khama said the new Task Team’s mandate is to mobilise Batswana to define their own long term social, environmental and economic development aspirations. “To review all relevant background material on the subject including the results of the on-going evaluation of Vision 2016, and the framework for development of Vision 2036 which has been facilitated by the National Strategy Office,” said Khama.
The Task Team which is made of up representatives from different sectors of the society will also have to consult with members of the public on the subject through the press, meetings, and seminars and invite submissions by individuals or organisations said Khama. The Task Team will then have to produce a New Long Term Vision document reflecting the consensus that would have emerged from the consultations. Khama said that he appointed the 34 member Task Team based on their knowledge, experience, expertise and their desire to contribute to the development of Botswana and the nation in general.
He urged the Team which includes representatives from political parties and trade unions to remember that their task is to lead Batswana develop their vision, which will improve the quality of their lives, maintain peace and security. “Your team is expected to conclude the draft vision document by May 2016 for endorsement by the National Assembly during the July/August 2016 sitting,” said President Khama to the Task Team adding that the new vision document is to be launched to the nation in September 2016 when the current comes to an end.
Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Eric Molale assured the Task Team that his ministry will support them and remove any red tape that might compromise their work.
One of the members of the Task Team, Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) President Johannes Tshukudu said that their acceptance to be part of the Task Team is a sign that they are not fighting with government. “We have been accused of being antigovernment but today we demonstrated that it is not true because we are part of this nation and want to shape its future,” said Tshukudu.
Women activist Keabonye Ntsabane said that the country has achieved a lot since the introduction of Vision 2016 in 1996 especially in education and empowerment. “People are now able to talk about gender based violence without fear or favour and condemn it in strongest terms,” said Ntsabane. On a compassionate nation, Ntsabane said the country has moved at a lightning speed and credit President Dr Ian Khama for leading by example. She said that nowadays Batswana are very compassionate and ready to help each other. Ntsabane who is also the Director of Gender Links said that the country is lagging behind in critical positions like having women holding influential positions within political parties and at parliament.
Currently there are five women parliamentarians and Ntsabane said that this is a great concern because that is where critical decisions are made. “We need to empower women politically because currently we are one of the least countries when it comes to female parliamentarians in the region,” she said. The nation is no longer secured as crime has moved from house breaking during holidays to armed robbers who will break into a house and kill occupants, observed Ntsabane.
Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) Secretary General Gadzani Mhotsha concurred with Ntsabane that the country has made progress in regard to Vision 2016. “The only problem that we had with Vision 2016 is that when it was launched it was more like Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) vision as even their manifesto relied on it, making it uncomfortable for Batswana to associate with it,” said Mhotsha adding that it was its main pitfall.
He said that 20 years ago Botswana was not where it is now especially on social development and that there is improvement on labour issues. Just a year after the launch of Vision 2016 in 1997 Botswana ratified the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions paving way for public sector employees to unionize, said Mhotsha. “We now have a robust public sector federation, Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU),” he said.
The most challenging issue is high employment rate especially among the youth and uneven distribution of wealth which Mhotsha said that it must be addressed in Vision 2036. Another issue which he said is giving BFTU headache is non-unionization of private sector employees whom he said their working conditions are appalling.
The key players
He is the Chief Executive Officer for De Beers and Resident Director. He is the former Minister of Trade and Industry until 2009 when he lost in the general elections.
He has held positions in several companies spending most of his career at petroleum company BP where he moved through ranks becoming their Commercial Director of BP South Africa responsible for BP commercial activities in 13 SADC countries.
A shrewd businessman and staunch Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) member, Moroka has been appointed the chairman of the task team. He has been credited as one of the best trade and Industry ministers that the country has ever had successfully negotiating the thorny Southern African Customs Union (SACU) mechanism for SACU trade negotiations with third parties as per article 31 of the SACU 2002 Agreement.
His appointment as the chairman of the task team has been viewed in some quarters as BDP’s reform strategy of deploying party cadres to critical government positions.
During the state funeral of his father Lieutenant General Mompati Merafhe, Odirile Merafhe made a passionate appeal to President Khama to reconsider him for any government position as he is ready to serve the nation. Some dismissed the statement as a joke, but the Group Executive of New Properties Limited is now a member of the Task Team.
His wealth of experience in the property, tourism and aviation sector will come handy to the committee as he has at one point headed the sectors. Like his father Merafhe is regarded as a forthright person who does not always follow blindly as it was shown when he was the board member of Botswana Development Corporation (BDC). He was removed from the board of BDC after he differed with the then Chief Executive Officer Maria Nthebolang regarding the Fengyue Glass Project in Palapye. Merafhe will also be in a committee that will look at the economy and employment thematic area which is chaired by BDC Managing Director Bashi Gaetsaloe.
The inclusion Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) President Johannes Tshukudu in the Task Team came as a surprise to many who view the militant public sector as antigovernment. Tshukudu who is also the President of Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) is a straight forward unionist who can be confused for an aggresive person as he speaks with a lot of command and very stingy with a smile.
Government since President Khama assumed office in 2008 has been at loggerheads with public sector unions which led to the infamous 2011 strike which took a month and the inclusion of Tshukudu is a sign that the two parties are ready to work together.
The founder of BONA Life, Vaka has vast experience in the corporate world especially in the insurance sector and with most Batswana still struggling to get just funeral insurance, she is the right person to steer the sector. A qualified lawyer, Vaka is one of the most successful and hardworking women in Botswana her life story can motivate other women especially young women who are struggling to get on their feet.
Representing Botswana Congress Party (BCP) in the task team, Alexander is one of the women activists in Botswana and Policy analyst on poverty, agricultural, rural development and gender policies and programs.
A lecturer at University of Botswana, Alexander is one of the down to earth politicians who can relate to any person. Her inclusion in the committee will come handy especially on rural development, poverty and agriculture.
Lt. General Tebogo Masire and Thebeyame Tsimako
Since they retired from the disciplined forces the two officers have been the only ones who were not absorbed into government system either as ambassadors or heading certain committees. General Masire has been frequenting BDP congress under accompanying his wife who is active in politics.
On the other hand, the Molepolole born former Commissioner of Police spent most of the time at the kgotla while his experience in the police office was wasted. Their inclusion into the committee which is on governance, safety and security thematic area will be very crucial and add value to Vision 2036.
General Masire who has a vast experience in the aviation sector as he was once air arm commander will also help in growing the aviation industry which is still at its infancy.
The team is expected to conclude the draft vision document by May 2016 for endorsement by the National Assembly during the July/August 2016 sitting. According to President Khama, the new vision document is to be launched to the nation in September 2016 when the current vision comes to an end and when the country celebrate 50 years of Nationhood.