Analyst gives SONA C grade
ANALYST: Anthony Morima

Where did alcohol levy money go? asks Morima

President Ian Khama made his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) during the Fourth Session of the eleventh Parliament on Monday.

There were mixed reactions from all sectors of the economy. Voice Staffer, Daniel Chida sat down for an interview with Anthony Morima, a political analyst who graded Khama’s SONA as below average.

Q. Welcome sir, can you give us a general overview of the SONA.

If you listened to the speech, one would not think it is for somebody who is leaving office in the sense that one would expect a person about to vacate office to start by telling us what he planned to do when he came into office in terms of his objections and the projects that we know he pioneered and how successful or unsuccessful such projects were.

Q. What exactly are you saying?

In his 2016 SONA, Khama’s address was drawn around the Vision 2036 Pillars, and it was a good thing because one would measure the status of the nation against the long-term vision, He was therefore supposed to continue with that pattern of thought about Vision 2036 but he just abandoned it.

And now one may wonder where we are heading given this address?

Q. Do you mean there was nothing positive to take away from it?

If I were to rate him I would give him a C because although you can’t give him a D his address was below average.

Nowadays people want to hear about job creation, I mean real jobs that can sustain the economy and people’s lives not temporary relief measures like Ipelegeng.

In 2016 the president spoke of a constituency based programme that was allocated millions of pulas and people were made to believe that their lives were to change for the better because of it but up to now the programme hasn’t taken off.

He also spoke of Economic Stimulus Programme, which was centered on building of classrooms and clinics but that is not what ESP should have been about, it is supposed to stimulate the economy and save companies from possible collapse.

We should have injected that money into other industries like tourism and the leather industry.

We lost more than 5000 jobs at BCL but Khama said that in the next three years they would create 3000 jobs. What is that?

Q. What can you say about the P2.6 billion made from Alcohol levy?

Yes, he did mention that but the question is where did that money go?

One would have thought that the President would have gone further and explained that part of the money was used to build rehabilitation centres for alcohol abusers and recreational facilities as he had set out to do from the beginning.

But he couldn’t because we all know that a significant amount was allocated to certain organisations and ended being abused.

Part of the alcohol levy was allocated to Ipelegeng Programme but we have nothing much to show for it.

Q. There was some positive news about the diamond industry, your comment on that?

The diamond production is projected to increase and the financial year 2016/17’s budget surplus is P1. 12 billion instead of the P1.10 billion deficit that had been projected.

We have to applaud him for maintaining our inflation between three and six percent and for the creation of jobs through CEDA funding and ESP.

Q. How sustainable are those jobs?

There is no clear beneficiation strategy even from the diamond industry, because as per his speech, the diamond beneficiation strategy is going to be completed in 2018.

How does a President wait until he is just about to leave office to have the strategy finalised.

Ipelegeng is a relief programme and should be used as that and it is a matter of restructuring it to add value in people’s lives because if that’s not done the 60 000 people that it employs every month will remain impoverished forever.

Q. He also mentioned that the Attorney General’s Chamber was drafting the Electoral (Amendment Bill for the inclusion of the Voter Verifications Paper Audit Trail for the sake of transparency, what is your take?

Khama was supposed to have gone back on the decision to use EVM because it is clear that a significant number of Batswana do not support it including those from the ruling party.

He did not only let us down there but also in all political reforms and judiciary independency.

The Afro barometer survey says Batswana support political funding but he failed to endorse that.

People are against specially elected system but what did he do, he increased the numbers.

The relationship between government and the media is very low; there is no media freedom anymore. Khama has oppressed media houses and starved them of advertising from government.

The relationship between trade unions and government has been polarized and Batswana have lost confidence in the DIS and the Ombudsman.

In summary Khama failed to create real jobs and come up with meaningful programmes and initiatives through his tenure