Social Democratic Programme 2

The Social Democratic Programme spells out a clear vision of a party that seeks to combat poverty, disease, ignorance/deprivation and political powerlessness. These are issues that the Batswana, especially the working class and the rural masses, are struggling with on a daily basis. The BNF giants like Ostrich Rantao, Maitshwarelo Dabutha, Peba Sethantsho, Kenneth Koma used to encapsulate this dream of a country free of poverty in their renditions at public rallies.

They spoke powerfully at White City, Old Naledi, Lobatse, and other public spaces of the poor about the need to rescue Botswana from economic asphyxiation by the elite and foreign capital. This is the core of what the Botswana National Front stands for, to fight for and with the poor (proletariat) in order to build a country where there is social justice for all.

The current situation where Botswana is rated as the third behind South Africa and the Seychelles with the worst form of disparity between the rich and the poor is greatly inexcusable.

Another defining political principle of the BNF as articulated by the Social Democratic Programme is unity. When the BNF was born it sought to bring unity to the political formations of the left and over the years unity has been part of the DNA of the Front.

As the SDP aptly puts it 'the BNF proceeds from the premise that true unity can only be achieved and guaranteed by a free and voluntary association of equals.' The critical principle here is that all Batswana should be treated as equals and should enjoy equal access to the resources of the country. In contrast the BDP has presided over a country that has consistently divided Batswana along ethnic and tribal lines, and through the class system.

Despite a little bit of tinkering here and there the Ntlo ya Dikgosi remains a hegemony of the so-called major tribes. Many Batswana who do not belong to these so-called major tribes have over the years felt side-lined and treated like second citizens in the country of their birth.

Whilst many so-called minorities suffer such discrimination the worst form of ethnic isolation has been against the Basarwa who on occasion their land has been expropriated and who have been treated as objects of a cultural fad. The political vision of the Botswana National Front is to strive for equality between ethnic groups.

The implications of the SDP here, which the BCP captured well in their 2014 manifesto, is that communities should be allowed to use their languages, national broadcasters and other public spaces. Further, although Setswana is the most widely used language, Batswana should be encouraged to learn the languages of other communities to foster national unity.

The SDP debunks the old bourgeoisie notion that democracy was about the freedom to have private ownership of the means of production. For the BNF the economy should serve the people and be enjoyed by all. One of the key strategies that the BNF believes should be employed to make the economy of Botswana robust and meaningful to all is to use state enterprises, cheap credit and joint ventures with private business to develop vital economic areas that are particularly important for the national economy.

In the manufacturing industry the SDP argues that production should in the first place seek to benefit local consumption and only secondarily target the export market. The BDP led government has over the years neglected to develop the local manufacturing industry.

We are in a perilous situation whereby even the most basic consumer goods are imported from South Africa and abroad. A national economy that is dependent on imports including water and electricity puts its own sovereignty on the line. Again Paul Rantao used to illustrate this by asserting that we import even such basic goods as a toothpick despite us having masunyana everywhere through the country!

The 2014 UDC manifesto correctly took the theme of the SDP on the need for a comprehensive infrastructure development programme. Here the idea is to focus particularly in rural areas through the provision of water infrastructure and serviced land, tarring all our major roads, electrification of all human settlements and enabling internet connectivity all over the country.

Such an infrastructure programme will by itself create thousands of jobs throughout the country, and will use the skills of the many graduates that are unemployed in this country. However, in the long term it will diversify our economy especially by strengthening the agricultural sector and making the rural communities viable economic zones. Unfortunately, one of the most absurd things which makes our economy sluggish is that a lot of permits are still only obtainable in Gaborone.

However, by creating the necessary infrastructural base which will attract potential investors to move into the rural areas of Botswana will also require decentralizing the procurement of services. The councils need to have the capacity to process PPAD permits, registration of companies and all other legal instruments in order for our country to have a living and robust economy.

The Botswana National Front is also committed to developing a welfare system that will give 'every deserving Motswana a minimum level of dignity as a human being.' In order to live out botho we ought to establish systems to care for orphaned children, people with disability, the infirm and elderly and unemployed people. This has to be a system that is understood by all and cannot be changed at the whim of anybody, even if they are the state President.

Regrettably, the BDP has tainted our current welfare system, and nearer the elections they often register more beneficiaries as a ploy to buy votes. Such behaviour is unethical and there ought to be regulatory bodies that investigate and expose such malevolence.

Dr Prince Dibeela writes in his personal capacity


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