Boko on NDP 11

SHARE   |   Monday, 14 November 2016   |   By Duma Boko
Leader of opposition, Duma Boko Leader of opposition, Duma Boko

I rise in part to add my own voice to that prescient cacophony of voices calling on us as a country to take this leap of speculative but informed conjecture that our present challenges impel. I rise also to continue the dialogue, the critical self-evaluation, the Socratic questioning that leads all of us to ask uncomfortable questions and speak painful truths about ourselves as a country, about our society and about its variegated communities to examine ourselves more honestly, more thoroughly and come up with a critical self-inventory. If we do this we will overcome the mediocrity to which this Government has mortgaged our country and as the saying goes, “show me somebody content with mediocrity and I will show you somebody destined to fail.” I spoke about mediocrity in my response to the State of the Nation Address in November last year and this is what I said, I would like to quote Madam Speaker from my remarks then, “when you lose sight of merit and appoint incompetent people to positions of leadership and responsibility, expect productivity, competitiveness, growth and jobs to suffer.”

I need to remind you all here, that we sit here in a representative capacity carrying out the mandate of law making, given to us under colour of Section 86 of the Constitution of this Republic which says, that you must make laws for the peace, order and good government of this country. Peace, order and good government. It does not just say laws for anything, anyhow as your whims and caprices may suggest to you. It says for the good government of this country. It is a constitutional obligation for you to enact reasonable laws for the good government of this country that is what the Constitution requires of you. When you do so, you have to match the needs of the country to the available resources in an equitable manner; equity! Equity, that concept, very, very
important, very profound concept that the Greek Philosopher Aristotle called “e-p-i-e-i-k-e-i-a: equity,” that is what Aristotle calls it. It is a very important concept, when we sit here to discuss the fate of the nation, when we sit here to discharge our Constitutional obligation to enact laws, we must do so paying particular mind to the fundamental dictates of equity, epieikeia as Philosopher Aristotle says and I looked at NDP 11. I was looking for epieikeia. I was looking for the foundational, the normative plank of equity, it is painfully missing. I submit. We must pay particular attention to that concept, so that we may rise above the ineffectual slogans that so extravagantly litter and pepper NDP 11.

We must identify and properly situate our main target. Who are we talking about? Is this some esoteric discourse or theorisation that has absolutely no subject? No! we are talking about those people that Frantz Fanon calls “The Wretched of the Earth,” those people that Antonio Gramsci calls “everyday people,” those on the downside of society, those living in Tsolamosese, in Block 7, in Old Naledi, in Extension 26; Block 3; all over the country. We are talking about those people of flesh and blood, poor things, poor souls that wallow in misery and abject poverty, that is who we are talking about. Let us not forget this all the time and let us put equity front and centre in our discourse on these issues. And so when we do, we will appreciate, Honourable Matambo, we will
appreciate when we take the approach that I urge upon you with humility. We will appreciate that those people catching hell deserve our attention too. That when you come here and tell us the economy is working, yes, I agree with you, your economy is working, it is working very well, in fact it is working too well for very few people. It is working too well for very few people. It is not working at all for the vast majority of the people of this country and let us focus our attention, let us zero-in on this matters like a laser and so we must confess even in our NDP 11, the grinding levels of poverty to which these people are subjected in, that these levels of poverty are a mockery…

So this is what I am asking you to do. Focus on the plight, the pain and suffering of the vast majority of our people, that is who we are talking about here and so, poverty is a gross violation of human rights, let us accept this fact. Poverty in whatever shape or form is a gross violation of human rights. It mocks the rights enshrined under the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of this Republic. It says we are failing in our duty to provide for them and grant them, secure them their peace, their security, their lives and livelihoods and the equal protection of the law. That is what we are doing if we do not guarantee them the protections available in the Bill of Rights. So the obscene levels of poverty and inequality; both wealth and income that have given us the ignominious ranking of the most unequal society in the world must force you people to reflect and reflect seriously.

So what did I expect National Development Plan 11 (NDP 11) to do? I expected it to go into the dark alleys of Block 7, Block 6, Block 3, Block 5 and Phase 2 among others to identify those everyday people, to speak to their condition, to give them some hope and to restore their dignity. NDP 11 must reach out into the lives of the employed destitutes, our workers who earn less than enough to survive, for whom there is always too much month at the end of the salary. We must find them mentioned and covered poignantly and prominently in NDP 11 and that coverage is painfully missing. So what does NDP 11 say? I will tell you what it says. Let me tell you what we expect in order to address this. We need disaggregated data that speaks to the real lived experience of the people that speaks to the gender issues and tells us the distribution of income and wealth by gender, in relation to young people and the disabled. We need this disaggregated data. What does NDP 11 say? At Page 107 Paragraph 6.017, it says, among the cross cutting challenges, inadequate and archaic laws. Who is responsible for these archaic laws, yourselves and you cry out as if it is something that fell from heaven. It is your doing. It is your fault and failure that we have these laws. What does NDP 11 say in that paragraph? It says we do not have disaggregated data. Who must generate the data?

Of course it is yourselves. What you are in fact saying in that simple paragraph is that you failed miserably in your duty to provide the raw materials for the legislature to act on and solve problems. You cannot use that as an excuse. So the lamentations that we get we do not accept because we want this data to enable us to design and fashion targeted responses. So when you fail to provide this data, you in fact have made the legislature unable to perform its constitutional function. In fact you are acting unlawfully. You are acting unconstitutionally. You are failing to respect and uphold the Constitution and that is a justiciable matter. Very soon we may have to fight it out in the courts. This is what you need to appreciate, not because we can go to court but because we want these problems addressed for the people Antonio Gramsci calls “everyday people,” The Wretched of the Earth, á la Frantz Fanon that is what we want. One of the things that we are seeing is that this Government is incapable of deploying facts, research based interventions that are measurable over time. What we have seen or what we have heard, what we have been favoured with are sentimental stories of heroism and melodramatic tales of success that you peddled around with your BOT50.

What should NDP 11 be doing? It should be presenting to us inflation indexed savings vehicles to try and lift our people out of poverty, (income and wealth inequality), to address that. NDP 11 should be dealing with national wealth, and what do we see there? We see this Government selling off assets of the state; doing, what was done in the United Kingdom years ago when they reduced their national wealth from two-thirds of their national income in the 80s and after World War II to very low levels. We are seeing what happened in Latin America where state assets were sold off on sweetheart terms in a predatory conspiracy between yourselves, the elites and the predators in business, when our people are out there catching hell. Where is the discourse, where is the engagement that places these poor people at the centre of our programmes and interventions? Fengyue, Bamangwato Concessions Limited (BCL), down the drain! Morupule B, I hear it is being sold off. You are selling off state assets, you are impoverishing the state. Boy! What kind of Government is this! So the Government net wealth is being reduced irresponsibly and our people are catching hell. So you present income inequality, wealth inequality as regrettable but unfixable. No! No! Prominent economists, I am not talking upstarts, I am talking serious economists out in the world have written extensively on inequality and given solutions, creative, imaginative and innovative solutions. That is what we want so that we can address not just the transmission of HIV/AIDS.

This is part of Duma Boko, UDC leaders’ contribution to the NDP 11 debate in Parliament as captured in The Hansard