The need for a vision
The world is undergoing rapid change, and Botswana is changing with it. The challenge for the future will be to adapt to the changing and competitive world without sacrificing the positive aspects of our culture and values. Change can be very difficult - it will require hard work, commitment, and an acceptance of some necessary but painful adjustments. Yet the alternative to change is stagnation and international isolation, an unattractive outcome that we should strive to avoid.
The four national principles of democracy, development, self relianceand unity are as valid today as when they were first enunciated, and will need reemphasis. We might add a fifth - that of botho, or humane behaviour, drawn from Botswana's cultural heritage.
With these principles guiding us, we need to set long term goals for how we would like the society of Botswana to be - a long term vision. It seems appropriate at this time, on the thirtieth anniversary since independence, to set a target of twenty years from now, and define a vision for Botswana; in the year 2016,- when Batswana will be celebrating their fiftieth anniversary of independence.
This document defines a framework for the vision. This framework might form the basis for a process of consultation where all citizens of Botswana, either individually or through organisations and institutions will provide their contribution to defining what the vision should be. The long term vision that finally emerges must reflect a sense of common and shared destiny around which all Batswana can rally to build a prosperous and successful nation.
This document is intended to provide a general framework for a set of preliminary ideas about what might go into a long term vision for Botswana. It is necessarily short, and it is not intended that it should contain any details about implementation plans.
A long term vision cannot be complete without an accompanying strategy, which spells out the actions that areto be taken to meet the long term goals. This document also defines a framework for what might comprise the strategy, grouped into sections that correspond to the main headings of the vision. The strategy must be built on an honest analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of Botswana on the opportunities that can be seized, and on the possible threats to avoid.
Constraints, achievements and challenges
Botswana was one of the poorest countries in the world at the time of independence thirty years ago. Since that time, the country has achieved one of the highest economic growth rates in the world, as a result of the exploitation of mineral resources, and sound financial management. Botswana has accomplished remarkable improvements in the fields of education, health, and the provision of physical infrastructure.
Government policy has recognised a number of challenges facing Botswana. There is now a need to diversify the economy to provide for future economic growth and to reduce Botswana's high unemployment rate. Botswana has a very skewed distribution of
income, and there is concern over the levels of poverty seen in the country. The education system needs to be tailored more closely to the demands of the job market and the requirements of a diversified economy.
Besides the need to extend health services within the country, Botswana faces a threat from the consequences of the spread of the HIV virus that causes AIDS. The effect on the lives of all citizens and on the economy is difficult to predict, but is likely to be substantial.
The natural resources and environment of Botswana are a vital asset, and the policies for their development and protection are of the greatest importance to the economic future of the nation. Similarly, Botswana must recognise the potential of its youthful population, and improve the social and legal position of women so that all citizens can participate fully in the process of national development. It is vital that the people of Botswana become self reliant, confident and proud of their position in the world.
framework for a vision
The first element of the framework for the vision is that Botswana should, in twenty years time, be a prosperous, productive and innovative society. It should have a diversified economy with an average income level per person of three times the current level, the equivalent of US$8,500. There should be full employment, so that the job opportunities are in balance with the number of people seeking work.
In the year 2016, Botswana should be a just and caring society. There should be an equitable distribution of income, and there should be no people living in poverty. A strong social safety net should support those who are disadvantaged. Every citizen
should have access to good quality housing, and to good quality health services within a reasonable distance. All people should grow up in a strong and stable family unit that provides support and retains the social values that distinguish Botswana from other nations.
Botswana in 2016 should be an educated, informed society. A11 citizens should have the choice of continued education, whether in academic fields or in vocational and technical subjects. Botswana must also join the information age, with full access to the media of communication and the explosion of information flow that is revolutionising the world.
In twenty years time, Botswana must be an open, democratic and accountable society. The traditions of community oriented and decentralised democracy should be on a sound foundation. All citizens and those in positions of leadership will hold themselves accountable for their actions, and to those they represent. The role of traditional leaders should remain strong.
Botswana in twenty years time should be a moral, ethical and tolerant society. The standards of personal morality of all citizens and leaders will be of the highest quality. No citizen should be disadvantaged as a result of gender, age, religion, ethnic origin or political opinions.
Elements of a strategy
If Botswana is to build prosperity, then the rewards for productivity in the workplace will need to be increased. There must be full recognition of the importance of technical and entrepreneurial skills and business development. Full support must be given to the further development of small and medium sized enterprises.
Mining will continue to be an important element of Botswana's economy, and there should be continued exploration of both the resources and the potential markets. Agriculture will continue to be an important source of income for many people. The aim
must be to increase the level of food production through the exploitation of modern techniques, and to extend and improve the quality of beef production. Botswana must make full use of all of its agricultural potential.
The most important element of the strategy for growth will be the rapid development of industry, particularly manufacturing. Botswana will need to adopt high technology practices, and develop the necessary training, research and development facilities. Investment will have to be attracted into Botswana by a combination of incentives and the exploitation of niche markets. Small and medium sized enterprises must be encouraged and supported to provide stability to the economy, and to decrease the degree of foreign ownership.
Botswana must also develop the service industries. There is rich potential for the further development of tourism in the existing game parks and facilities, particularly the Okavango delta. There are additional possibilities arising from the rich historical and archaeological heritage of the country.
There is an urgent need to develop the capacity in Botswana to provide information services through all media, particularly the internet. This will also facilitate the development of Botswana as a centre for financial services and banking.
Economic development in Botswana must grow out of a partnership between government and the private sector. It is essential that the nation is able to harness all of its physical and human resources in an efficient and non adversarial way. Botswana must
become a just and caring society. The first step is to strengthen the social safety net, and to address and deal with the underlying causes of poverty in the country. There should be systems of unemployment benefits, and pensions for the elderly.
The health services must continue to develop. In particular, ways must be found to contain the further spread of the HIV virus. Campaigns must be continued, and businesses should be encouraged to set up schemes to educate and support their
employees. The community as a whole will need to support those who are made destitute by AIDS.
The existing education policy must be implemented in full. It is particularly important to increase the range of vocational and technical choices that are available for all people in addition to continued academic study.
There will also need to be support for parents to bring up their children in a way that fits them to be useful citizens. Policies and facilities to support the development of youth should be seen as a priority. Tirelo Sechaba should continue to embody the important concept of national service, but should be modified so that it does not interfere with other forms of education.
It is important that Botswana continue and strengthen its traditions of democracy. The Kgotla system provides a strong base on which to build, and free political debate must be encouraged at all levels. There should be a programme to extend courts and tribunals throughout the country to ensure that all citizens have access to justice.
The recently approved policy on women in development will need to be translated into concrete strategies for implementation. These should be focused upon targeting of women's' economic needs, on discriminatory laws and practices, on positive discrimination in leadership, on female literacy and education, on women's' health and on the eradication of violence against women.
Botswana must become a moral, ethical and tolerant society. The goals of the vision require the utmost commitment by all citizens. The attitude of leaders at all levels is of the greatest importance. Leaders must be seen to behave in a moral and upright fashion.
All Batswana will need to see the advancement of their country as a duty incumbent on everybody. Self reliance will be a vital attribute in the future. Botswana has a long history and a developed culture that determines the behaviour and attitudes of its people. This culture must be strong enough to absorb change without losing its central values. Family traditions, and the strength of the family unit must be maintained, and the cultural and spiritual values of people respected and encouraged.
Links to existing policy and planning
Most of the elements of the National Development Plan 8 currently under preparation are compatible with the framework of the vision presented here. The framework is also in broad agreement with many of the already established policies. However, there will be a need to refine some of the policies, strategies and implementation plans to facilitate the aspirations expressed in the vision.
In particular, there is a need for strong emphasis on the importance of sustainable economic diversification, job creation, a stable macro economic environment, the promotion of small and medium sized enterprises, and the partnership with the private sector.
The achievement of the longer term goals will require, in the first instance, the timely implementation of all the agreed policies. An increased impetus on implementation must be pursued. There need to be decisive measures to translate the well articulated and good policies into action, with well defined structures, monitoring mechanisms, timetables, and a commitment to success. A high level monitoring body such as the HLCC must be charged with the responsibility of driving the implementation of the vision.