Lack of development in Botswana is not necessarily to limited resources but failure of those entrusted with responsibilities to take risks, observed the MP for Tati East Biggie Butale in his response to State of the Nation Address.
Butale, who since he arrived in Parliament has shown to be a straightforward politician who is not afraid to tell government that they have failed the nation, said people in leadership were afraid to be adventurous and take the country to greater heights. “Permanent Secretaries and Ministers who after the financial year returns a lump sum of unused funds are hailed as prudent while those who spent their budgets on the intended projects are scolded,” hit out Butale.
He said that Permanent Secretaries and heads of parastatals are very conservative and don’t want to think outside the box, something which he said is costing the country. “Our work ethic is very poor and heads of department are reluctant to work overtime, citing that they don’t have overtime allowance forgetting that the reason they are on E scale is that they work extra hours,” said Butale.
Government should consider having ministry of state enterprises to try and stamp out poor performance of parastatals which are not bringing any value to the state, said Butale. The Tati East MP said the 48 hours working hours per week is translated to working for only two days in a week. He said the North East is the only district in the country which does not have council chambers and is underdeveloped.
Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Frans van Der Westhuizen tried to correct him by saying the North East is not a district but he laughed him off, saying “is very shocking that a minister doesn’t know that North East is a full district.” There has been a concern from the business community that Botswana’s immigration laws are too stringent and scaring away investors and Butale concurs, noting that the country is closing its borders to investors.
“Let us open our borders especially to immigrants who will bring some skills that we need here and desist from denying people’s Visas without valid reasons,” insisted Butale, adding that developed nations like Unites States of America are thriving because of immigrants. He said that Botswana is not aggressively marketed, blaming it on Batswana being too conservative and risk averse, adding that the country has the potential to become the world’s financial centre.
On manufacturing, he called on government to set up a car manufacturing plant in the country and make use of Botswana University of Science and Technology (BIUST), noting that the country has lot of iron ore underground which is underutilised. On the power shortage, Butale called on the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources to consider constructing nuclear power plant as the country has uranium in abundance.
Butale quoted William Shakespeare on his book Julius Caesar: “There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat; and we must take the current when it serves or lose our ventures.”