Constitutionally, President Lt. Gen. Dr Ian Khama will on Monday make his last State of the Nation (SONA) Address as the head of state.
Khama vacates the highest office in the land on April 1, 2018. He ascended the office 10 years ago after serving another 10 years as vice president to President Festus Mogae.
The nation is waiting in anticipation to hear what Khama’s last address to the nation contains and if it will bring hope for the unemployed and the new political landscape.
What is obvious though is that Khama’s last SONA will be guided by Vision 2036, which was crafted under his leadership. Vision 2036, which is in its first year, succeeded Vision 2016.
The nation will expect Khama to address the state of the economy with respect to the challenges afflicting diamond sales. Although Khama has borne the harshest criticism for allegedly running down the economy, punters point out that he has presided over a 15 percent Government Debt / GDP ratio which contrasts sharply with South Africa’s 53 percent and Namibia’s 41.5 percent.
The argument is that these countries borrowed too much compared to GDP. Botswana’s GDP picked during the economic meltdown which led to complete closure of production of Debswana mines for four months as well as the funding and construction of the multibillion Morupule B power plants.
Khama will be expected to tell the nation what his government is doing to address these issues. He is likely to revel in Botswana’s credible credit rating in Africa, which confers the country's ability to grow the economy going forward. He will also touch on the diamond Sales Agreement which is due for review next year.
SMMEs and Tourism
President Khama will say the extent to which he has developed Small Micro Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) and the Tourism Sector as the next engine of economic growth. Has the sector grown; has it created job opportunities for Batswana? Tourism is one area that Botswana has to seriously explore given its potential to form a key part of the growth areas of the country in terms of diversifying the economy. He will also address the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP).
Khama must tell the nation what the level of poverty was when he took over and the progress made thus far. This is particularly important for him since he’d like poverty eradication to form part of his legacy.
Khama is a stickler for discipline. He will address crime and corruption, alcohol abuse and the scourge of HIV/AIDS, which are afflicting the economy, worse still laying off a substantial portion of the youth and able bodied population of the country. Over indulgence in alcohol, drugs and substance abuse defeat collective efforts by parents and government to empower citizens for the future.
Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) was successfully privatised. Batswana that invested in the company have been paid dividends several times sometimes twice in a year since BTC listed because the share price has grown.
But what about the privatisation of the other public enterprises like Air Botswana, Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) and National Development Bank to allow greater private sector participation in the economy?
Being a great supporter of sports, Khama is expected to talk about the progress the country has made in international athletics such as softball playing at world cup and netball hosting world youth cup for the first time in Africa.
The power situation in the country seems to have improved since Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) is able to meet its demand and remain with surplus which it exports to other countries. Khama will update the nation on the water situation since the advent of the Tropical Cyclone Dineo, which left a trail of destruction in its path. He will also brief the nation on the construction status of North – South Water Carrier 2 which is meant to bring water to the southern part of the country
Under Khama’s watch the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) suffered its first-ever split that led to the formation of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) which has since split into two as well. The opposition parties are not stable despite having a coalition.
It remains to be seen if Khama will say anything about his infamous 5 Ds - Democracy, Development, Discipline, Dignity and Delivery roadmap.