Hardly a week after she was sworn in as a specially elected MP, Bogolo Kenewendo has hit the ground running and it would seem she is already delivering on one of her mandate of being the voice of youth in parliament. In her response to the draft National Development Plan 11, Kenewendo insisted that the plan should have a youthful face. She said that given the fact that the current state was challenging, most people especially the youth were hoping that the plan holds a relief to their current pains. According to Kenewendo, Botswana’s population structure has changed, with a youth bulge which has led to the growth of the working age population from 46.9% in 2001 to 64.9% in 2011. As a result, she said, the dependency ratios have also changed. According to Kenewendo, Botswana now has to consider some of those among the working age as dependents which is a result of the high youth unemployment in the country. “I believe that with this glaring reality, we can therefore justifiably say that this document should have a youthful face, and have it represent the hopes and dreams of young people. Our young people are smart, driven and resilient; they are all looking for an opportunity to rise up. We should not only see this document as a base for the next six years but see it as opportunity to cement the foundation that will carry us to the end point of a generation’s horizon,” said Kenewendo. She bemoaned insufficient job creation both in the private sector and the public sector which she said have since made unemployment a huge problem. The youth are consequently the victims of this as they continue to graduate from tertiary institutions every year, she noted. “Large numbers of young people graduate from education and training every year yet we have only created just over 1,000 formal sector jobs in each of the past two years. And now with the closure of BCL, Tati and other private mines, our fresh graduates have to fight for the small jobs created with the now newly unemployed,” she said.
Kenewendo, however, pointed out that the economy both domestic and international has not performed particularly well during NDP10, even though it has become more diversified, such that direct dependence on mining GDP has reduced. However, she said there remains strong dependency on government by the private sector. Meanwhile while she commended Botswana for a robust macro-economic environment which she said is still considered among the best in the world. She called for improvement of the country’s successes at the micro level. “Going forward we need to understand the why of decision making, we need to be critical of our process and be less motivated by the end result; this way the probability of our desired outcomes will be higher,” she said. She immediately took the chance to critique government’s seemingly silence on the Vision 2016 review, an occurrence which she said does not reflect well on those who sold it to the nation. “Going through the first 5 chapters of the NDP11 draft, the first thing that jumped out at me was the lack of Vision 2016 review and yet the Honorable Minister mentions it in his statement. Honourables, we undertook Vision 2016, made people buy into the idea that by 2016 we would be an even greater nation,” she said.
According to Kenewendo, the bulk of sustainable jobs at this point can only come from the private sector as the public sector is under pressure and the changing fiscal position no longer allows government to employ at the same pace as it did in the late 90s. She thus advised that government needs to build trust with the private sector and tend to their needs to ensure they grow, thrive and employ. Kenewendo said that it was now time the government to begin injecting the Economic Stimulus Package in the right projects to assist people in need. According to Kenewendo, despite the fact that there are people who doubt intentions of the stimulus, it is needed and Botswana needs the right processes and decision making hats in order to get our most desired outcomes. “We should, however, be careful not to get carried away with government spending. We need to start saving, planting the seeds so that our children can seat under the shade,” she warned.