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Civic activist

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Civic activist
Civic activist

DIAMOND, THE BEACON OF LIGHT

He is not one to shy away from making his opinion known about anything no matter how controversial it may seem.

Kabo Diamond Moseki has become one of the most noticeable political commentators in the country.

His bold approach towards some of the most controversial issues has won him friends and foes in equal measure but his posts on his Facebook page have never stopped.

In this interview Moseki fields questions from Voice Senior Journalist Kabelo Dipholo.

Q: You are one of the most vocal political commentators on social media. A quick look at your Facebook profile shows you are a volunteer and a consultant. Besides engaging on social media debates, what else do you do?

I’m currently doing consultancy work for organisations in the areas of Project Management, Strategy Development, Risk Management and Community engagement.

I also do a lot of volunteer work but I see myself more as a civic activist than a volunteer.

I’m the Chairman of an organisation called Public Interest Institute, which is an NGO dealing with issues of citizen participation and policy development, inclusive policy, democracy and governance as well as issues of anti-corruption.

I’m also a board member of a number of organisations including Botswana Council of NGOs and Young Africans Leaders Network.

Q:You are also one of the most vocal political commentators. What’s your take on the current political scene?

My feeling is an average citizen is not getting enough from the current state of politics.

There is not enough policy engagement, especially on issues affecting man on the street.

For example we are not talking about inclusive policies about people living with disability, we still have left that as a charity case and there are no signs it will be addressed soon.

Instead of it being addressed by government, we see the plight of people with disabilities left for NGOs such as Cheshire Foundation.

The youth unemployment figure currently stands at 40%, but there are no concrete measures in place to address this situation.

Minority groups such as Basarwa have been excluded from the decision making structures.

Q: The current government has come up with a number of policies. Are these adequate to address challenges faced by citizens?

Civic activist
POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Moseki Diamond

Clearly the policies are not sufficient to address challenges faced by citizens.

Look at policies meant to empower women, they only address one area which is economic empowerment, but when it comes to political empowerment women are on their own.You only have to look at policies meant to address poverty.

The biggest tool needed to fight poverty in the country is employment.

If all the policies do not help with job creation then government is off the mark.

The citizen economic empowerment policy is haphazard, Permanent Secretaries go around the country saying citizen owned companies should be given first priority when it comes to awarding of tenders, but that is just talk.

This is not in black and white and if there’s anybody doing it, they do so out of the goodness of their hearts.

If they are serious about it, then let it be spelt out clearly that citizens will be empowered through tendering and no single businessman will enjoy the monopoly of tenders.

Let these tenders be spread across so there is something for everyone.

Q: How can these policies be improved?

Let’s look at policies of women empowerment, most are good but the fact that women’s political empowerment has been ignored means the policies have become counterproductive.

Women need to be politically empowered, which will see them become part of decision makers because they will come up with policies that will empower them economically.

Political and economic empowerment go hand in hand, they can never be separated.

Something like backyard gardening for instance can only be good for supplementing citizens’ diet.

People should be encouraged to plant tomatoes and eat well balanced meals but this can never be a policy to eradicate poverty.

Government should engage citizens, consult and cultivate other forums besides the kgotla to engage the entire populace.

The kgotla has served us well for the past 50 years since independence but more modern forums are needed in order to get diverse views on issues.

Another policy that needs to be improved is the alcohol levy. It has not met its objective and it has to be reviewed.

Five years later and we still don’t have a rehabilitation centre for alcoholics. Money collected from this levy reach up to P1 billion.

Why can’t we turn one or two medical facilities into rehabilitation centres?

This money falls under the Ministry of Health and it should be put to good use.

Q: A culture of dependency has developed amongst citizens, how can this be curbed?

This culture of dependency was brought by policy makers by throwing money at problems.

They have failed to come up with long term solutions and did not include people and encourage them to take the lead in self empowerment.

If you look at BaZezuru for instance, they are a good example of an empowered society.

Government made the mistake of thinking they are best placed to take people out of poverty by coming up with initiatives that will eventually fail, let the people take themselves out of poverty just like the Zezuru do it.

Q: So much has been said about President Khama’s pet project Ipelegeng. Is it a viable project or waste of tax-payers money?

Ipelegeng as a temporary measure would be a good thing while we are still working on industrialising the country to get everybody working.

But as a cornerstone of our poverty eradication programme it will never work. We should have long term projects where people can earn monthly salaries.

Ipelegeng should have a time frame, because if its long term then its a waste of money.

Q: What needs to be done to ensure that the country’s wealth is distributed evenly?

We must ensure that government expenditure should not be enjoyed by a few individuals.

A start up company should be able to win a tender.There should be capacity building for locals in areas of economic activity.

In the Okavango residents are still poor, what has the government done to ensure that they are not just employees at fancy lodges but are owners of the tourism resorts.

Toursim is the second highest revenue earner for government and our citizens deserve to be big players in the industry.

We also need to look at broad based empowerment.

Any company winning tenders should demonstrate that it will employ young people, women, disabled and people from minorities.

Q: Opposition parties are bracing themselves for a possible takeover in 2019. Is Botswana ready for change?

Yes the country is ready for change. There is a need for leadership renewal otherwise we run the risk of stagnation.

We need to experience new ways of addressing and solving problems because we’ve had the same people for 50 years.

You should look around, all the countries doing well have a change of leadership every now and then and all those with one leader or same people have stagnated.

Q: Should the Umbrella for Democratic Change attain power in the next General Elections, what should be addressed urgently by the new government?

The first thing that the new government has to address is citizen economic empowerment and inclusive social policy.

We need to bring all the groups we have left out of decision making, education or health.

The new government should quickly work on expanding democratic instruments which will adequately address new challenges and today’s man.

We need a new, modern constitution and a new government should provide one immediately.

Q: Customer service has for a longtime been a concern in the country. What is your general view on Batswana’s work ethic?

We generally have a poor work ethic, which works against us as a country.

Our work ethic should be at par with the international standards if we want to compete in the global market.

There is no reason why workers in Bangladesh should produce five t-shirts in 10 minutes while Botswana only produces one in the same number of minutes.

Q: In your opinion what needs to be done to improve work ethic?

We need to be more customer centric and to completely change our mindset.

For this to happen, it should be tied to our education system and is something one must learn from home.

I like to give an example of the Zezuru people. These are very hardworking people, who are self driven.

We see them, working all the time and they live amongst us, why can’t we follow their lead.

Q: Do you have any political ambitions?

At the moment I’m happy with doing consultancy work and engaging the community at different forums.

I however cannot rule out being active in the future, but it’s not something I’m thinking about at the moment.

Q: Mr. Moseki it was a pleasure talking to you. Thank God Its’ Friday. What do you have planned for the coming weekend?

Usually I spend my weekends at home with my mother.

I also enjoy reading and weekends are used to relax because I travel a lot during the week.