Real Alternative Party
As President Masisi has alluded in his recent post-retreat speech, it is true the BDP government has failed to increase the wealth of Batswana and their standard of living. It is also true that BDP has failed to make sure that Batswana get a return for the raw wealth of their community. As a matter of fact Batswana eat less than before. Unemployment is rampant; wages of the working class are pathetically low; the country`s imports exceed the value of exports; the only sector that is expanding is the production of alcohol.
Yet the irony in President Masisi`s is that while he laments the current state of affairs, he only speaks of hypothetical solutions. There are no concrete explanations provided in how the current situation could be remedied. There is no discussion of how we arrived at this pathetic state of affairs and how it could be addressed succinctly. What is notable is that it has become fashionable of BDP State under Masisi`s presidency to be hyper – active in streaming promises and yet super-excellent in failing to honor and deliver on their collective commitment.
The problem is BDP economics maximizes free trade than human welfare and prioritizes an economic order that favors foreign investment than workers income. Aside from financial injections to keep the banking and corporate balance sheets on relatively stable footing during the Covid – 19 crisis, the BDP State has failed to partially alleviate the negative socio – economic impact particularly on the unemployed, underemployed and the disabled. The other paradox of BDP government is its continuous pronouncements to minimize the state and let the ‘Market take control’. Yet market trade correlates to loss of industrial employment, falling wages and the collapse of trade union power. This is evidenced by the lay – offs of workers by the private sector enterprises in the midst of Covid-19 crisis.
The fact is the vision of BDP and that of its political-economy has never been super – optimistic. The BDP State confuses the reasons for economic growth for free trade – this is where Batswana`s poverty and suffering stems from as alluded to by Masisi. There has been no manufacturing experience and no technological progress during entire period of BDP rule of 56 years. BDP as a state has failed to build up the classified economic sectors, namely agricultural, industrial and service sectors. And this is because BDP specializes in the old – static colonial economics model of concentrating in pure supply of raw materials. The primitive economics of innovationless activities have become a permanent feature under BDP rule.
The real problem facing Botswana today is that BDP lacks the principal strategy of developing the industrial life of a Nation. Economic growth proper has to manifest itself through products and productivity that meets our needs and address the frightening economic gap which many Batswana are now imminently facing. It is for a fact that Botswana has the fiscal space to buttress their social protection systems, protect incomes and create more jobs, If Batswana are to be uplifted from their poverty levels, the BDP government has to allow for and support its native citizens through economic subsidies to form market monopolies in sectors including; agriculture, concrete products, hardware supplies, auto-parts dealerships, ITC services as an immediate short gap measure. The present citizen economic empowerment programs are too far from remedying the poverty status which Batswana have been ditched into. The empowerment programs have been crafted to cure the symptoms and not the cause of misery afflicting Batswana.
As a long term measure, the solution to high unemployment in Botswana lies in increased manufacturing industry which would in turn achieve very high growth in labour and productivity. Given that Covid-19 has massively impacted Botswana`s economic environment and rapidly diminished its greater commodity dependence on external suppliers, common sense dictates an increase in domestically produced intermediate products was supposed to be an instantaneous alternative by the BDP State. History of world political economy clearly demonstrates that no country has been able to improve the standard of living of its citizens without an industrial sector and advanced service sector. Manufacturing is useful in that more people derive jobs, skills, experience, real – wages and forever pushes forward a never ending frontier of new knowledge and technology. Only manufacturing has authenticity in increasing economic returns. Batswana standard of living would be much higher today if BDP State would have allowed a much bigger manufacturing sector from early stages of independence. An industrial sector would help mechanize the production of Bio-fuel (from chicken and cattle fat), Canvass (from mokolwane trees), Leather products (from domestic, wildlife beasts), Plastic (from coal, soda), Glass (from soda), Steel (from manganese) from an immense capacity of raw minerals in Botswana.
In essence, we first need as a country, to establish our own competitive industrial sectors before we can jump into free trade with the rest of the world as SADC Heads of States have opined. Converting into untrammelled free-trade will literally make Botswana the first casualty because we don’t have the capacity to compete and we are still a backward nation with respect to scale effects of industrial activities. Opening up to Africa and the rest of the world before establishing and protecting our well rounded industries will be a suicidal catastrophe. In a nutshell, unless and until the BDP economic model which focuses on free trade than production is tamed, the statement made by President Masisi remains an empty, irrelevant demagoguery bluff!
Real Alternative Party