Nasha commends govt for achieving goals

17 April 2014

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Margaret Nasha has commended government of Botswana for having made unprecedented progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Setting the stage for the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Beyond 2014- Eminent Women’s Dialogue, on Tuesday, April 15 Dr Nasha said the MDGs were very important goals that “we, as a country, are part of and have agreed to.”

Botswana’s progress in the first MDG, which calls for the eradication of poverty and hunger by 2015, Dr Nasha said had been very impressive. To achieve this goal, she said the country had “made an undertaking to eradicate, not to eliminate, but to finish extreme poverty by 2015.”

However, the National Assembly Speaker said it was worrying that there were still two billion people in the world living in abject poverty.

She said it was worrying that another target under this first MDG calls for the halving of the proportion of people living on less than $1 (about P8) per day, but “there are still some in this beloved country of ours who live under a dollar a day.”

The other MDG that Botswana was doing very well in, Dr Nasha said was the second MDG, which calls for the achievement of universal primary education by 2015. She said Botswana was on target at 90 per cent, adding that “we must intensify the search for the missing 10 per cent.”

Under the third MDG, of promoting gender equality and empower women, Dr Nasha said Botswana was also doing well and on target on disparity and progression to secondary and tertiary education, in terms of access to education by both boys and girls.

The only challenge, she said was that “there is absolutely no intention to introduce affirmative action in this country.”

“We have tried in politics, which is the worst affected area, but we aren’t getting nowhere. The political parties, some of them are trying here and there, but the big political party is not moving one small inch and that is the worrying factor,” she added.

Another none intension by government, Dr Nasha said was the refusal to sign the SADC Gender Protocol.

“God knows why, because we are making progress in all the areas of concern in that Protocol. We have made strides. Compare us with other countries in the SADC region- we are doing very well, but we are refusing to sign.  We called, as parliament, twice not once Ministers of Labour and Home Affairs to really tell us the reasons why, but up to now we are still in the dark,” she said.

Furthermore, Dr Nasha said the country was still lagging behind in meeting another target under the first MDG, which is to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people by 2015. Botswana’s unemployment rate, she said was at 20 per cent in 2012. This percentage, she said was still very high.

“But, you know you were there, not so long ago, when we were sending some thousands of graduates to Tirelo Sechaba. That is not employment. It’s a worrying phenomenal that we should think very seriously about as a country and as a nation,” she added.

She also added that in 2002/3 and 2009/10, the percentage of people who lived below $1 a day was 30 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.

The incidence of extreme poverty, in Botswana, had declined from 23.5 per cent in 2002/2003 to 6.4 per cent in 2009/2010, which is a reduction of 73 per cent in less than 10 years.

Despite all this impressive performance, Dr Nasha said the country was still faced with the challenge of accelerating progress on the fourth and fifth MDGs, which she said were still lagging behind. These MDGs calls for the improvement of maternal health and the reduction of child mortality by 2015.

She also expressed concern that, although the country was not doing badly on the sixth MDG, which calls for combating of HIV/AIDS and other diseases by 2015, the HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns were no longer vigorous and the voluntary HIV/AIDS testing had also gone down. Dr Nasha said Botswana made a commitment that by 2010 there should be a universal access to treatment, which she said had not yet been reached.

She also added that “we still have problems of the same sex groups. We are in denial, as a nation, that there is something like that taking place amongst us. We have problems distributing those drugs to refugees and foreign prisoners in our prisons here.

We are not doing what we should. We are not giving them drugs. I don’t know in aid of what. But, that is the situation.”

Botswana, the National Assembly Speaker said was also doing well and on course with the seventh and eight MDGs, which is to ensure environmental sustainability. She said the country had integrated the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes.

In terms of the eight MDG, which calls for the global partnership, Dr Nasha said Botswana was also doing well, since the country was supposed to form partnerships with developed countries- the first and third world countries. These countries, she said promised a lot of money, adding that a lot of them delivered on their promises.

The dialogue that was themed: ‘Building the Future- Accelerating Gender Equality for the Post-2015 Development Agenda,’ was held to deliberate on progress made towards meeting the set goals on gender equality and women empowerment as well as articulate Botswana’s position on gender equality for the Post 2015 United Nation’s Development Framework.

It also offered an opportunity to redefine strategies and develop a consensus on key recommendations for the fulfillment of gender equality that should be mainstreamed into the National Development Plan and the Post-2015 Development Framework.
Some of the topical issues of the dialogue were; gender inequality, gender based violence and poverty eradication strategies. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Lorato Gaofise

Location : GABORONE

Event : International Conference

Date : Apr 16 Wed,2014