- Naturalised Batswana said to benefit from the economy more than native citizens
- Opposition says bill is against naturalised Batswana
- Some MPs say “targeted citizen” fails to define indigenous Motswana
Concerns were raised this week in Parliament about what exactly defines an indigenous citizen of Botswana or “Motswana wa Sekei” when MPs debated the Economic Inclusion Bill.
Some MPs argued that naturalised Batswana do not have the same challenges as ordinary Batswana.
There was a call to make a clear distinction between the different categories of Batswana, from Motswana by birth who is defined by having a home village, a kgotla and a kgosi and relative outsiders who have acquired citizenship through naturalisation.
Presenting the Finance, Trade and Economic Development Committee’s observations and concerns, Onneetse Ramogapi who is a committee member called for the bill to be retracted for further consultations and re-drafting because it does not address its intended purpose and concerns of Batswana in its present form.
“A clear definition of ‘targeted citizens’ has to be fully clarified so that there is a clear distinction of a person disadvantaged by the bill,” Ramogapi said. “It is the committee’s position that the bill be presented again with the envisaged regulations that are going to operationalise it.
“The bill as it is does not address what was intended and is inadequate on a number of key issues and therefore should be re-drafted to be more progressive and to avoid loopholes which might cause rigidity in the future.” Ramogapi said.
Motivating for the bill, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Peggy Serame, emphasised the importance of the character of the person holding the office of Coordinator as proposed by the bill, saying it should be an upright character.
“The success of the bill is anchored on the Coordinator,” Minister Serame said. “They must be meticulous, dependable, trustable and with integrity. I advise that we ensure that there is monitoring and reports should be made to Parliament on a regular basis to ensure accountability and transparency.”
The Economic Inclusion Bill seeks to introduce affirmative action through schemes, initiatives, programmes and regulations to ensure effective economic participation by targeted indigenous citizens and marginalised groups in the economic growth and development of the economy and to facilitate enforcement of the economic empowerment initiatives by increasing their spending power.
The intention of the bill is to ensure equal opportunities and distribution of resources, thus eradicating stark poverty and bridging inequality through economic indigenisation.