The new man at the helm of political leadership of Southern District Council, Mephato Reatile is beaming with inspiring economic empowerment ideas.In his first full council address on Monday, Reatile outlined his vision for the district promising that it’ll be hinged on the citizen economic empowerment policy, which was passed by Parliament in 2012 when he was Member of Parliament.
“This is our country and we must not be apologetic about empowering our people,” said Reatile while noting that he was one of the MPs who strongly supported the policy. His undertaking to use the policy to improve the lot of the district entrepreneurs comes, in part, from the understanding that if political leadership fails to empower citizens, there would be nobody else to do so or cause that to happen.
“Where do we expect them to get empowerment to a point where they are able to prosper and graduate from being concentrated at the SMMEs level to become captains of their respective industries and commerce in general?” he asked rhetorically. Reatile’s promises of economic transformation were made in the presence of Assistant Minister Dr Alfred Madigele and Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Patrick Ralotsia. Reatile, who comes from Mabutsane, one of the small villages in the district, is considered one of the most influential and hardworking politicians. The Chairman pointed out that Parliament passed the economic empowerment policy on account that, “The national development strategy cannot succeed when Batswana are left marginalised away from fully participating in the building of their own economy.”
He called on all those privileged to be sitting in district leadership positions to make concerted efforts to ensure that the economic empowerment policy is implemented and given full expression. And that can be attained through procurement processes that place Batswana, especially young entrepreneurs and SMMEs in general, at the forefront of economic activity, according to Reatile. He urged council technocrats to be bold and take that extra step in making empowerment drive a reality, noting though that all should be done within the law. “As politicians, we cannot micromanage procurement of goods and services,” he told the council, adding that they still have a duty, “To exercise strong oversight through our committees and ensure the empowerment drive is fairly implemented to a point where sons and daughters of the privileged and the less privileged will be inspired to dream big and work hard towards realising their dreams.”
In Reatile’s books, the privileged and the less privileged can equally muster the courage and inspiration of exploring their dreams if they know that only their brainpower and hard-work is the passport to winning business in their own council. He made it clear that he should not be misunderstood to be saying non-citizens are prohibited from bidding for and winning projects as well as supply of goods and services in Southern District. Botswana laws give foreign entrepreneurs the right to participate in building the national economy. He encouraged foreign entrepreneurs to consider going into joint ventures with locals even where it is not a tender requirement. He said this would help transfer skills and best practices to the locals. The role of the council leadership, both at political and administrative wings shall be to jointly work-out exactly how the empowerment drive shall be rolled out, he said.