If the recently released Afrobarometre survey is indicative of anything, it is that Batswana are generally dissatisfied with the current state of the economy and that poverty and inequalities continue to rise.
Scores of Batswana who responded to the 2013 Afrobarometer survey painted a gloomy picture on the current state of the economy and the way it is being managed. The economy is currently in the hands of finance minister, Kenneth Matambo.
However, the report finding, released this week contradicts a long held view that Botswana is considered one of the best managed economies in the sub continent. About 57 percent of Batswana describe their living conditions as being fairly bad or very bad, while 17 percent gave good ratings. “This might be attributed to high levels of income inequality in the country, although South Africa and Namibia have comparable inequality figures, but somewhat more content citizens,” reads part of the study titled, Africa Rising? Popular Dissatisfaction with Economic Management Despite a Decade of Growth, written by Jan Hofmeyr. Batswana are not even optimistic about their future when it comes to personal wellbeing.
The report reveals that the ten most optimistic countries, where large majorities expect brighter future, are located in West and North Africa, including Benin, Nigeria, and Mali. On the economy, 43 percent of Batswana consider it to be in a bad state, compared to 22 percent who are more positive. It is not only Batswana who have issues with their economy. According to the study Africans overwhelmingly reject their governments’ management of their economies, giving low marks for job creation, improving the living standards of the poor, and narrowing the gap between the rich and poor. Across 34 countries a majority (53 percent) rate the current conditions of their national economies as “fairly” or “very bad”, while just 29 percent offer a positive assessment. The only notable exceptions are Namibia, Zambia and Algeria.
These findings are consistent with related results on levels of “lived poverty” across Africa also released this week. The research titled: After a Decade of Growth in Africa, little Change in Poverty at the Grassroots, reveals that the extent of poverty in Botswana has risen in the past decade, as shown by the level of access to food, clean water and cash, among other indicators. The research shows that South Africa, Botswana, Mali, Senegal and Tanzania had seen “small” increases in poverty, with Senegal, Tanzania and Mali seeing larger increases. The study notes that with only two years to the 2015 Millennium Development Goal benchmark year, 44 percent of Africans regularly lack cash income, which might enable them to meet basic needs such as food, clean water and medicines. “Across 16 countries where data is available over the past decade, the average experience of lived poverty has hardly changed,” reads the report.
It states that there have been real over-time decreases in Cape Verde, Ghana, Malawi and Zambia, however these instances of poverty reduction have been matched by increases in Botswana, Mali, Senegal and South Africa. The increase in poverty casts doubt in the millions of Pula spent by Botswana governments to eradicate poverty through social grants and other initiatives. It also puts in doubt governments’ claims that since the inception of Poverty Eradication initiative by president Ian Khama in 2009, the country has seen poverty levels going down gradually.
Afrobarometer also testifies as they note that their data, based on the views and experiences of ordinary citizens, counters projections of declining poverty rates that have been derived from official GDP growth rates. Government set aside P180 million for poverty eradication programmes in the 2013/2014 financial year, an increase of about P30 million from previous year.