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VISION 2022 – WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?

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Maybe it is important before we are all consumed by the hype of 2022 that we reflect on what are its key tenets.

 

It is easy to say the duty to explain what the Vision 2022 is about lies with government. That is probably passing the responsibility and making all of us passive passengers on the trip or journey to 2022.

Transforming a country is a not a duty of one person but the responsibility of us all. The kind of actions that are to be undertaken have a direct impact on our lives, hence we have to engage the process and respond to it and give our ideas and advise.

The fact that in 1997 we produced a blue print of the vision it was intended that all of us embrace it and be active participants. It is unfortunate that 20 years later we seem to struggle what the vision is all about.

One reason could be that we have seen very little progress and a number of challenges that seem to be setting us back.

In this article today I intend to refresh our memories on the key macro strategic indicators that would demonstrate our progress or lack thereof.

But before that it is important to state what the Vision 2022 is and what it is not. It states: “By the Year 2022, the Kingdom of Swaziland will be in the top 10 per cent of the medium human development group of countries founded on sustainable economic development, social justice and political stability”.

It is not just a sophisticated economy and skyscrapers.

It’s aim is to achieve the above relying on sustainable economic development; social justice and political stability.

To achieve the vision described above, key macro strategic areas were identified, which I can describe as key objectives. They were seven in all and they are as follows;

n Sound economic management

n Economic empowerment

n Human resource development

n Agricultural development

n Industrialisation

n Research for development; and

n Environmental management

The essence of sound economic management is based on the premise that our economy is based on free-enterprise (open economic principles) with its central theme being the creation of an attractive macroeconomic environment to increase investor confidence.

This would in turn, enable the achievement of a number of desirable social objectives such as job creation, poverty reduction, economic empowerment of locals (including women) and environmental management.

The most important elements of this strategy are a sustainable national budget; full transparency and accountability in the use of public funds; realistic monetary policy taking into account the small size of the economy vis-a-vis the regional economy; creation of adequate physical infrastructure; protection and regeneration of the physical environment; effective and optimum utilisation of the natural resource base; maximisation of productive employment opportunities; and bringing regional economic relations to work for the benefit of the Swazi economy.

Vision

Secondly, on economic empowerment the vision envisages the following; active promotion of local entrepreneurs to start their own businesses or grow in their businesses or enter into mainstream business operations through purchases on a willing-buyer and willing-seller basis; orderly promotion of informal sector activities; rural development; assisting disadvantaged groups; and mainstreaming of gender relations in project design or formulation. 

Thirdly, is the human resource development where we recognised that our number one resource is our human capital. We further clearly recognised that in order for it to contribute meaningfully to sustainable economic and political development would be if its capabilities and qualities are enhanced. The important elements of this strategy are appropriate education and training (including a reorientation away from the present academic orientation to technical and vocational orientation); adequate incentives extended to businesses and households to encourage the full development of human capital; appropriate youth programmes; special attention to members of society with disability; and all other areas impacting on the quality of human capital, water, sanitation, shelter, etc.

Strategic

The other key strategic area is agriculture where it is stated that we have a comparative advantage because of good soil texture, good climatic conditions, potential for more quality agricultural research and competitive wage rates. This strategy essentially involves raising the capability of the agricultural sector to generate higher volumes of goods and services for given sectors of production, without destroying the environment. Important elements are food security at the household and community levels; commercialisation of agriculture on Swazi Nation Land; efficient water resource management and usage; and rational land allocation and utilisation.

Industrialisation as a key strategy looks at the diversification of the economy away from agriculture into industry and services. Its elements are value-addition on agricultural and mining products; promoting financial services (including off-shore operations); fostering harmonious industrial relations; promoting sectors with strong backward and forward linkages.

The vision also looked at the issue of research for development with the key being the understanding that knowledge is one of the important ingredients in decision making. It emphasis the culture of generating relevant information before any decision is made in both the public and private sectors.

It emphasis the point that institutions dedicated to research (i.e. SEPARC, Malkerns Research Centre and universities) must receive adequate funding which could be encouraged by appropriate fiscal incentives. The research should span all areas – including natural science, production, technology, social science, humanities, education, population and health.

Lastly, environmental management was made a key strategic area for sustainable development. It entails the maintenance of an ecological balance and accommodating environmental considerations in their policies, strategies and programmes of both public and private sectors; accommodating environmental compliance procedures and ensuring that sector strategies for achieving the country’s vision are environmental friendly. We recognise that environmental management will help to forge a development path that provides prosperity for the country’s present and future generations.

So when we talk Vision 2022, broadly you must understand that it talks to the above. I will later go to the specific actions sector by sector, which will reveal in detail the amount of work ahead.

The purpose of this article is to give some guidance to anyone aspiring to be in public office, especially politicians. We are not interested in their new ideas but we want their new energy and fresh thinking to advance this country vision forward.

Government has a duty to explain this vision and further inform us on when it would deliver on the other specific targets.

It is important that it engages with the populace in order to make the task of implementing the strategy easy.

Now that we know where we are going, it is incumbent upon all of us to play our bit. Remember if our hearts are into it, we can deliver a brighter future for all.

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