General

Parties offer mixed reactions on State of Nation Address

By: Phaladi Letswamotse

The opposition Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) say President Khama’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) is another self congratulatory note that is totally devoid of any critical assessment and engagement with challenges facing the nation.

UDC spokesperson Phenyo Butale said Khama is only interested in spending government money but failing to account for previous expenditures.

“There are many projects that have been undertaken by this government but we are not hearing whether we get value for our money from such projects or not. What then President Khama does is to announce new expenditures just like he did previously. The President only knows that he wants to spend money and more money but he never wants to account to say this is how much his government has spent and on what,” said Butale.

UDC expected Khama to clarify Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) but he hasn’t. Butale said Khama is telling the nation that his government is going to spend more money and this has turned up to be a consistent message from all his previous addresses.

UDC also condemned Khama for failing to speak to the nation about crisis in the judiciary.

“The President partly mentions the judiciary and he conveniently omits talking about the crisis in the Judiciary that is currently affecting the nation,” said Butale.

BCP spokesperson Dithapelo Keorapetse said President Khama’s address was nothing but just a hollow promise. Keorapetse said Khama only talks about spending more money but failing to account for the money that has been spent previously.

“There are no clear targets for instance on how many jobs will be created. Nobody knows how many jobs will be created in the construction sector, manufacturing industry, in tourism or in any sector that ESP covers,” said Keorapetse.

He said that in the absence of this measurable deliverable and in the absence of clear targets it is difficult to then hold the government to account.

“This was the last State of the nation address before vision 2016, they have set themselves targets for Vision 2016 but the President has said nothing in terms of where we are – regarding success and failures,” Keorapetse said.

The BCP is wondering why President Khama was silent on Vision 2016 but was quick to point to international accolades by various bodies when he cannot debate national topical issues. Keorapetse said Khama is not saying anything about attempting to consolidate democracy.

“There are issues in the judiciary, a critical organ of government but he chooses not to say anything about it. It’s a big disappointment to us. This is the 7th State of the Nation Address by President Khama but what we see is all empty promises,” said Keorapetse.

However Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secretary general Botsalo Ntuane said the SONA was absolutely fantastic, brilliant and possibly the best ever delivered in Botswana.

He said the SONA spoke to every issue of concern to the nation and provided solutions.

“What we got today shows a government at work. He touched on issues of unemployment, issues of utility services, diversification of the economy and many other issues that are of concern to this republic. All we can do is to appeal to Batswana to support government on its endeavour to deliver on developments and services,” said Ntuane.

Ntuane further said President Khama spoke to his government’s commitment on the rule of law.

“Even the international rankings put Botswana among the best in the world. People have different views and everybody wants what is in their mind to be included but it is impossible, certainly he spoke about the rule of law and how Botswana is committed to the rule of law. Government has not done anything wrong, the law has been followed though out,” said Ntuane.