MPs ad­vised to live more mod­estly

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - TSHEGO LEPULE

A BOTSWANA MP says South African leaders could ben­e­fit from lead­ing more mod­est lives.

As­sis­tant Min­is­ter of Health and Well­ness Dik­gang Mak­galemele also called for the strength­en­ing of trade re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries.

Mak­galemele was ad­dress­ing the pub­lic, busi­ness­men and or­gan­i­sa­tions in Cape Town yes­ter­day.

The event was hosted by CapeFo­rum, an or­gan­i­sa­tion chaired by em­bat­tled ANC Western Cape leader Mar­ius Frans­man, who said the aim of the en­gage­ment was to open di­a­logue with neigh­bour­ing coun­tries to strate­gise on ways to build re­la­tion­ships.

Mak­galemele, speak­ing as an MP for a ru­ral district of Shoshong, de­scribed his coun­try’s out­look in at­tract­ing for­eign in­vest­ment and how they made do with lim­ited re­sources.

With a pop­u­la­tion of just two mil­lion peo­ple, Mak­galemele said the coun­try ex­pected an over­all eco­nomic growth rate of 3.5 per­cent for 2016 and 4.1 for this year.

He said high on his gov­ern­ment’s pri­or­i­ties is erad­i­cat­ing poverty among the peo­ple of Botswana. Six years ago, the na­tional poverty fig­ure stood at 30.6 per­cent and was re­duced to 19.3 per­cent by last year, while ab­ject poverty was re­duced from 24.5 per­cent to 6.4 per­cent.

He said be­ing a land­locked coun­try, their econ­omy was largely de­pen­dent on min­ing, agri­cul­ture and tourism. Their strat­egy was speed­ing up in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion pro­cesses in the coun­try through the ex­port­ing of goods.

Mak­galemele said they also im­ported many prod­ucts and en­cour­aged those in at­ten­dance to look into ways of ven­tur­ing into those busi­ness mod­els.

Asked what the South African gov­ern­ment could learn from Botswana, Mak­galemele said gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials could live more mod­estly.

“South Africa’s econ­omy is com­plex and di­verse and is a huge econ­omy, and in Botswana we don’t have a large pop­u­la­tion so it is hard to com­pare,” he said.

“One of the things we did as a coun­try was (en­cour­age) mod­esty, whereby most of our leaders have done their best in terms of lead­ing a mod­est life and bring­ing the cost of run­ning the econ­omy quite low.

“For ex­am­ple, there was a time I trav­elled to Jo­han­nes­burg and when I trav­elled back I asked a friend to drive with me and at the bor­der I asked this one lady to drive him back.

“I showed her my diplo­matic pass­port, and she said ‘I don’t think you can be a min­is­ter when you don’t have se­cu­rity’.

“She re­fused to give this guy a lift back be­cause she did not be­lieve I was a min­is­ter be­cause min­is­ters in South Africa have to have one or two body­guards.

“But the other thing is that we also have low lev­els of cor­rup­tion (in Botswana) – we still have cor­rup­tion, but it has been proven that it is low.”

‘We also have low lev­els of cor­rup­tion’

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