Gaontebale Mokgosi, the Chairman of the Real Alternative Party (RAP) has rebuked President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s narration that COVID-19 is ‘a good crisis’.
In his State of the Nation Address, His Excellency the President, Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi quoted certain Winston Churchill who once advised ‘never waste a good crisis’. According to Mokgosi, President Masisi was wrong to quote those words there is no such thing as ‘a good crisis’. Mokgosi says if at all the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic was good, it was good to Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) elites.
“First, there is no such thing as ‘a good crisis’ because all crisis are disastrous, that is why they are addressed by way of state of emergencies and/or disaster management processes. Hence, it is not only wrong and unwise, but misleading to regard COVID-19 ‘a good crisis’, unless of course if it the pandemic has been lucrative for self-enrichment and self-aggrandizement by the BDP ruling elites.”
This comes after allegations that the Covid-19 response measures by Government have been characterized by corrupt dealings surrounding the procurement of PPEs and other health equipment that were meant to combat the spread of COVID-19. RAP is disappointed by the president’s silence on those issues and believes that “the Mindset Change mantra made in the SONA is just a sterile propaganda logic that does not mean to break away from existing frames, but rather serves as PR gimmicks.”
Turning attention to bread and butter issues, RAP views President Masisi’s address as “very sketchy and wishy – washy for it lacks a robust strategy and interventions aimed at reducing mass chronic unemployment prevalence in Botswana.”
Demonstrating that indeed they are the ‘Real Alternative Party’, RAP, through its response to SONA shared the interventions to the challenges faced by the nation:
- On Creative Industry
On creative industry, RAP’s position is that without cultural creative crossovers, the current transformation of creative industry in Botswana will fail to lead to an endurable and lovable sector. According to RAP, local artists do not need to commercialize the creative industry only, they also need to gain a position with international partners, for internationalization and sales activity of their artistic products on foreign markets. The party is of the view that Botswana needs to establish the Creative Industries Development Centre to offer support to creative enterprises and entrepreneurs. Such a Centre, according to RAP, should provide services ranging from training, co-marketing activities (to speed up entering the market and reduce the associated risks), workshops, exhibitions, and open studio sales. The Centre would also serve as the Creative Incubator that offers local artists a network of contacts and the chance for entry to foreign markets.
“The newly established Arts Council has to lead to diverse empowerment projects including; Arts festivals, cinemas, theatre restaurants and bars, educational programs for schools, cross border literature and much more. It must provide capacity building to facilitate learning and the exchange of experience among those involved in the sector i.e. bring local artists together with high profile proactive international arts practitioners.” RAP advised.
- On People Living With Disability
“It is a positive measure that Botswana has acceded to the Convention on the Rights of People Living with Disabilities (CPRD) and adopted the Revised National Policy on Disability, albeit after a long push by the Botswana Disability Lobbying Agencies.” RAP commended. “What is now needed is to amend the Botswana constitution to be consistent with the CRPD as well as to include a legal obligation that provides affirmative action and to expressly establish an obligation to take specific measures to achieve or accelerate substantive equality for persons with disabilities.” the party observed.
By so doing, RAP believes the country would be consistent with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the global commitment to “leaving no-one behind.” RAP anticipates people with disabilities to receive income support that ensures living in dignity, services that enable them to participate in the labour market and in society, and a work environment adapted to their needs and free of discrimination.
- On Social Upliftment:
Real Alternative Party posits that preschool must be universal as it points the kids in the direction of academic success and gives a significant advantage to children across economic status as they enter primary school. Perhaps, just as important is high-quality preschool program as children with a high-quality preschool experience are much more likely to play an active part confidently and joyfully in their future learning journey. RAP believes the universal preschool must be compulsory and biased to children (from 3 to 6 yrs) from low-income families as they are less likely to attend preschool than kids from middle- and upper-income families. According to RAP, this approach would assist in avoiding abuse by the well-off families. It is in this respect, that RAP calls for universal high-quality preschool than the lower-quality programs currently offered under the BDP State as they do not have a significant impact in life-changing difference on children of low-income families.
- On Not Letting a Crisis Go to Waste
RAP believes the COVID-19 necessitated the need to change. However, RAP suggests that can be attained through; active labor market policies, pro-growth economic policies geared toward contributing to exports growth, highest standards in working conditions, and broad social protection that is fair, inclusive and full of opportunity. This, RAP says, is very possible given that Botswana has enormous resources in terms of; pockets of fertile land and big rivers for our food security; enough traditional cattle to meet the national demand of milk production; fish from Okavango and Ngami rivers to start fish enterprises at domestic and regional level; abundance of chicken and beef fats to produce bio-oil/ petrol in excess; ample medicinal plants to put – up pharmacological industries; and enough soils and rock-stones to venture into customized construction products (e.g. roofing and floor tiles). In effect, for Real Alternative Party, a crisis has to prompt for social egalitarianism to ensure that vulnerable groups are the least affected, socially and economically, during a disaster or emergency!