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rebuttal of pilanes fallacies

NELSON RAMAOTWANA

“To let things slide for the sake of peace and friendship when a person has clearly gone wrong, and refrain from principled argument because he is an old acquaintance, a fellow townsman, a schoolmate, a close friend, a loved one, an old colleague or old subordinate. Or to touch on the matter lightly instead of going into it thoroughly, so as to keep on good terms. The result is that both the organisation and the individual are harmed”. p. 31 Chairman Mao.

The above statement by Mao urged me to respond to statement made by Mr Pilane and the letter submitted by his party to the Registrar of society. I listened to Mr Pilane’s interview on radio and also read a letter submitted by his party. Mr Pilane’s interview raised many issues, notably; 1) that UDC is an electoral arrangement and not a political party, 2) the Constitution submitted by comrades Boko and Saleshando is not the proper one (unlawful), and the proper one is that produced by constitutional stream, 3) big brother mentality, 4) the BNF Conference resolutions at Rakops have no bearing in UDC, 5) the UDC Congress was a gathering of friends and 6) that the operational of Constitution of UDC is the one registered on the 23rd August 2012. These are some of the issues he discussed on the 18th July 2018 at Duma Fm.

I now wish to respond accordingly and put to rest a lot of misleading statements made during the said interview. I state from the onset that, I was a member of the Constitutional stream under the UDC banner. I also want to concede upfront that the operational Constitution of UDC is the one registered on the 23rd August 2012 until the Registrar of Societies approves the one submitted by Presidents Boko and Saleshando. I will start with the genesis of the UDC Constitutional amendment and thereafter deal with Pilane’s misleading statements.

GENESIS OF UDC CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

It is imperative to state that UDC NEC agreed in February 2016 or thereabout that the operational constitution be amended and set up terms of reference with the following objectives:

A constitution that is simple, clear and practicable, and conducive to cultivating an efficient, effective and excellent political entity and organisation. Conceive, crystalize and draft a comprehensive constitution of the UDC that is a significant improvement of the current one. Advance a revised constitution that is conducive to the ideals and values of the UDC over the long term, one that will stand the test of time.

The said UDC NEC meeting also resolved that the draft constitution be completed by 15th May 2016 whilst final draft was envisaged to be ready by 30th August 2016 and UDC Constitutional Congress was envisaged to be in September 2016. Unfortunately, the constitutional congress did not take place in September 2016 since the Constitutional stream completed its work on the 15th October 2016 with referrals to the Main Negotiating Team (MNT) to resolve differences arising from the Constitutional stream. Having outlined the background information, I now refute Mr Pilane’s misleading statements one by one.

IS UDC NOT A POLITICAL PARTY?

Mr Pilane contends that UDC is not a political party but an electoral arrangement. The million dollar question that springs to fore is, what is a political party?  According to Pilane, an electoral arrangement is not a political party. I beg to differ. Any political formation be it an alliance, merger, coalition or whatever nomenclature it uses to label itself, as long as it contests for the assumption of state power, is a political party.

Section 150(2) of the Electoral Act (cap.02:09) clear states that a political party may apply through its leader or secretary for registration of a symbol to be used by it at elections. The High Court interpreted section 148 (predecessor to section 150(2) above) and held that only political parties (apart from Independent candidates) register to contest state power not non-political formations [see BPP v BAM & others (2002)2 BLR 333 at 340].

Article 3.3 of the Constitution of UDC registered in 2012 clearly states that UDC is a political party. It provides thus; “The Umbrella shall contest elections as a registered political party drawing its electoral support from all sections of the society of Botswana”. The same provision still exists in the Constitution submitted by UDC President and his Vice-President Saleshando and it exists in the one registered by BMD. To this end, Pilane misled Batswana by saying UDC is not a political party and I am at lost what he wanted to achieve by that statement.

WHICH UDC CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT IS VALID?

This question arises from the fact that Pilane said he does not recognise the one submitted by UDC President and his Vice-President, comrade Saleshando, thereby claiming that his, is the legitimate one. There is a reason why Pilane wants a draft rejected by the Constitutional stream. The reason is, he conveniently appointed himself First Vice-President. That is where his interest lies.

Pilane’s interest in his so-called Constitution is captured by Article 8.1(b) of the draft submitted by his party to the Registrar of Societies on the 18th July 2018, which reads that; “the person who, for the time being, is the President of the BMD shall be the First Deputy President of the UDC responsible for Administration and Management and shall be the First Vice-President of the Republic of Botswana when the UDC is in power”.

In the interview Pilane misleadingly said that the constitution of Constitutional stream is the valid one because all four parties accepted the draft whilst the one submitted by comrade Boko and Saleshando is unknown to him. Pilane statement is far away from the truth. The truth is that the final meeting of the UDC Constitutional stream was held in Francistown on the 15th October 2016. From UDC, only BPP and BNF attended and Pilane did not attend and none from BMD attended the said meeting. BCP was duly represented.

In the said meeting BCP and UDC were deadlocked on the issue of staffing of UDC NEC as well as who should be First Vice-President of UDC and the State upon assumption of power. It is imperative to state that the issue of two Vice- Presidents was mooted by BNF representatives during their consultation with the Secretary General in order to break deadlock. Each party Representatives were permitted to seek guidance from their principals on the deadlock.

Upon reporting back, BPP, BNF and BMD agreed on the principle that they be two Vice- Presidents. BCP representatives rejected the proposal of Two Vice- Presidents. Similarly, BCP, BNF and BPP agreed that there were two Negotiating parties, being UDC and BCP, whilst Pilane made it clear that they were four (4) political parties and he represented BMD not UDC.

His reasoning was, if he accepted that the negotiations were between BCP and UDC that would mean that BCP would have half of the positions in UDC NEC as well as constituency allocations. The BCP denied his exposition and explained that it only applies to UDC Presidency but he maintained his stance nonetheless.

After protracted persuasions and prodding, members of the Constitutional stream agreed at Francistown that we were deadlocked and we could not agree on the composition of the Executive of the structure of UDC+ at party level and the composition of the Executive arm at National level upon assumption of power. At Francistown, the Constitutional stream agreed that Nelson Ramaotwana of UDC and Martin Dingake of BCP should author a referral to the Main Negotiating Team capturing the areas of disagreements. We did author a referral, of which its main theme was shared in what’s up group of the Constitutional stream. The said referral was signed by Ramaotwana and Dingake.


For avoidance of doubt, the BCP never supported the creation of two Vice-Presidents at UDC and State levels. The Constitutional stream resolved as follows in relation to the creation of two Vice-Presidents;

“We were also not agreeable on whether or not we should have two (2) Vice-Presidents. The BCP is against the creation of two Vice-Presidents at both party level and national level. For the longest time, as a party, they have taken the position that BDP Government has been creating positions for its members without any justification. In any event, under the current constitutional dispensation, there is only one Vice-President, who by law is entitled to take over the Presidency in the event of inability of the President to discharge his functions.

The UDC representatives say it is logically sound to cede the Vice-Presidency to the BCP in view of the fact that the BCP has ceded the Presidency to the UDC. However, the UDC suggested that in light of the sentiments expressed by the BMD to the effect that it is not willing to concede the running mate-ship of UDC to the BCP, there is need to consider the feasibility of two Vice- Presidents at National Level.

Given the legal hurdles of having two Vice-Presidents at National level, it was agreed that the matter is sensitive to warrant a discussion in the presence of the BMD, which at the last meeting they weren’t, and had asked that the meeting proceed. Given the sensitive and the BMD absence then, the UDC collective then present, thought a referral was best. A referral was therefore agreed upon”. In light of the above referral by the Constitutional stream, it is clear that Pilane once more fed Batswana with misleading tales to suit his ambition- First Vice-Presidency.

It is clear that the BCP at the Constitutional stream rejected the notion of two Vice-Presidents. After referral to the Main Negotiating Team (MNT), our draft was improved by removing plus (+), Secretary General Post. The MNT also added Congress as a structure. The Presidents of BCP and UDC also debated the feasibility of two Vice- Presidents and BCP compromised by allowing it for progress sake.

The above explanation takes me to the next issue raised by BMD objection to the Registrar of Societies dated 18th July 2018, especially paragraph 16 thereof; which reads thus;

“The only new constitution of the UDC which was negotiated and unanimously agreed by the Constitution Stream and improved by the Upper Negotiating Body comprising equal representation of all 4 parties is the only one we accept as legitimate and as worthy of approval and registration by the Registrar. We attach that Constitution hereto”.

I have already demonstrated the debates and disagreements of the Constitutional stream above and there is no need to repeat same here, save to say the BMD letter is fallacious. The Constitution submitted by BMD at the Registrar of Societies is exactly the same with the one, the Constitutional Stream disagreed about. No improvements are contained in BMD constitution as submitted at the Registrar of societies, except the absence of plus (+) in the name UDC. What a disgrace?

The BMD conveniently omitted to state that the Main Negotiating Team included the UDC Congress as the Supreme Body and same was discussed and agreed to by the Presidents of UDC and BCP. BMD also conveniently omitted to tell the nation that the process started at streams, through MNT and ended with UDC and BCP Presidents. This then takes me to confidently answer the question, which constitution is valid? The answer is, the one submitted by Boko and Saleshando on the 13th July 2018.

REASONS WHY BOKO AND SALESHANDO’S CONSTITUTION IS VALID

When negotiations were commissioned in August 2016 at Oasis Motel, all four parties agreed that the negotiations were between BCP and UDC.

All four parties agreed that there were three layers, commencing with streams, through MNT and at the apex being BCP and UDC Presidents.

All four parties agreed that the main purposes of streams were to gather data to enable MNT to speedily conclude talks.

It was also agreed that where the streams were deadlocked there should refer the matter to MNT and in turn if MNT was deadlock, it would refer the matter to UDC and BCP Presidents for finalisation and/or resolution.

In this vein, the constitutional stream disagreed and deadlocked and referred the matter to MNT. MNT as the main negotiating team, had power to overhaul, what the lower stream proposed and in this case, it included Congress as a structure of UDC.

The Presidents of BCP and UDC also agreed on two Vice-Presidents of equal status as announced by comrade Nehemiah Modubule late last year in a UDC Press conference addressed  by Presidents of UDC and BCP, in the presence of BMD and BPP.

The final product of the constitution of UDC is what BCP and UDC Presidents agreed upon and same was tendered to UDC NEC and in turn UDC NEC convened UDC congress to settle the draft once and for all.

Again Pilane and his BMD submitted a constitution that was rejected by the constitutional stream, MNT and Presidents of BCP and UDC. To say Pilane’s draft constitution was the correct one is a fallacy? Assuming I am wrong; is there any other authoritative source that backs up my explanations above. Before, I deal with authoritative sources, let me bring to your attention another BMD and Pilane’s fallacies as contained at paragraph 11 of their letter dated 15th July 2018 submitted to the Registrar of societies on the 18th July 2018 which reads;

“In addition to that, the new constitution which they claim is of the UDC is unknown to the BMD, the BMD has not participated in its preparation, the BMD now knows but does not agree with what it contains, the BMD does not know who prepared it and on whose instructions, the BMD does not agree to the approval and registration of that constitution by the Registrar, and the BMD opposes the approval and registration of that constitution”.

Is it correct to say that the BMD does not know who prepared it? What a joke? Comrade Modubule sat in the MNT where it was agreed to remove first and second Deputy President and replaced same with just two Vice-Presidents of equal status. An addition of Congress as a structure was also made by MNT. The said agreements were then submitted to the BCP and UDC Presidents to endorse and they did not agree to them.

Any doubting Thomas is referred to the report of the BNF President delivered to the BNF Central Committee on the 16th January 2018, which report covers all processes from streams up to the BCP and UDC Presidents, especially paragraphs 19-27 thereof. The said paragraphs are surmised as follows:

“When all lower stages of the process were concluded all matters from these were referred to the Presidents who were to meet and render their final decisions on all matters and aspects of the process. The meeting of the Presidents was held in Francistown and were attended primarily by the UDC President for the one part and the BCP President, for the other part.

The President of UDC brought along … the then President of BMD as well as the President of BPP. No agreement could be reached at that meeting. The UDC then convened its NEC to discuss the developments. At this meeting all the outstanding issues were resolved by the UDC NEC and contact was made with BCP immediately to seal the agreement and it was duly sealed. … at the stage at which we are, the report of the Transition Team has been submitted to the Presidents who have discussed it generally and have moved the NEC to convene a Constitutional Congress to extensively discuss and settle the Constitution before submitting it to the Registrar of Societies for Registration. The Congress will be held on the 23rd February 2018 in Gaborone”.

The answer as to who gave instructions is contained in Boko’s report. UDC NEC concluded all outstanding issues and negotiation with BCP was sealed by the UDC President and BCP President. The instruction came from the said two Presidents as mandated by their respective parties, namely, UDC and BCP. Having debunked Pilane and BMD fallacies, I now turn to refute another fallacy relating to the status of UDC Congress held on the 23rd February 2018.

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Opinions

Fuelling Change: The Evolving Dynamics of the Oil and Gas Industry

4th April 2023

The Oil and Gas industry has undergone several significant developments and changes over the last few years. Understanding these developments and trends is crucial towards better appreciating how to navigate the engagement in this space, whether directly in the energy space or in associated value chain roles such as financing.

Here, we explore some of the most notable global events and trends and the potential impact or bearing they have on the local and global market.

Governments and companies around the world have been increasingly focused on transitioning towards renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. This shift is motivated by concerns about climate change and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Africa, including Botswana, is part of these discussions, as we work to collectively ensure a greener and more sustainable future. Indeed, this is now a greater priority the world over. It aligns closely with the increase in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing being observed. ESG investing has become increasingly popular, and many investors are now looking for companies that are focused on sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint. This trend could have significant implications for the oil and fuel industry, which is often viewed as environmentally unsustainable. Relatedly and equally key are the evolving government policies. Government policies and regulations related to the Oil and Gas industry are likely to continue evolving with discussions including incentives for renewable energy and potentially imposing stricter regulations on emissions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a strong role. Over the last two years, the pandemic had a profound impact on the Oil and Gas industry (and fuel generally), leading to a significant drop in demand as travel and economic activity slowed down. As a result, oil prices plummeted, with crude oil prices briefly turning negative in April 2020. Most economies have now vaccinated their populations and are in recovery mode, and with the recovery of the economies, there has been recovery of oil prices; however, the pace and sustainability of recovery continues to be dependent on factors such as emergence of new variants of the virus.

This period, which saw increased digital transformation on the whole, also saw accelerated and increased investment in technology. The Oil and Gas industry is expected to continue investing in new digital technologies to increase efficiency and reduce costs. This also means a necessary understanding and subsequent action to address the impacts from the rise of electric vehicles. The growing popularity of electric vehicles is expected to reduce demand for traditional gasoline-powered cars. This has, in turn, had an impact on the demand for oil.

Last but not least, geopolitical tensions have played a tremendous role. Geopolitical tensions between major oil-producing countries can and has impacted the supply of oil and fuel. Ongoing tensions in the Middle East and between the US and Russia could have an impact on global oil prices further, and we must be mindful of this.

On the home front in Botswana, all these discussions are relevant and the subject of discussion in many corporate and even public sector boardrooms. Stanbic Bank Botswana continues to take a lead in supporting the Oil and Gas industry in its current state and as it evolves and navigates these dynamics. This is through providing financing to support Oil and Gas companies’ operations, including investments in new technologies. The Bank offers risk management services to help oil and gas companies to manage risks associated with price fluctuations, supply chain disruptions and regulatory changes. This includes offering hedging products and providing advice on risk management strategies.

Advisory and support for sustainability initiatives that the industry undertakes is also key to ensuring that, as companies navigate complex market conditions, they are more empowered to make informed business decisions. It is important to work with Oil and Gas companies to develop and implement sustainability strategies, such as reducing emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy. This is key to how partners such as Stanbic Bank work to support the sector.

Last but not least, Stanbic Bank stands firmly in support of Botswana’s drive in the development of the sector with the view to attain better fuel security and reduce dependence risk on imported fuel. This is crucial towards ensuring a stronger, stabler market, and a core aspect to how we can play a role in helping drive Botswana’s growth.  Continued understanding, learning, and sustainable action are what will help ensure the Oil and Gas sector is supported towards positive, sustainable and impactful growth in a manner that brings social, environmental and economic benefit.

Loago Tshomane is Manager, Client Coverage, Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB), Stanbic Bank Botswana

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Opinions

Brands are important

27th March 2023

So, the conclusion is brands are important. I start by concluding because one hopes this is a foregone conclusion given the furore that erupts over a botched brand. If a fast food chef bungles a food order, there’d be possibly some isolated complaint thrown. However, if the same company’s marketing expert or agency cooks up a tasteless brand there is a country-wide outcry. Why?  Perhaps this is because brands affect us more deeply than we care to understand or admit. The fact that the uproar might be equal parts of schadenfreude, black twitter-esque criticism and, disappointment does not take away from the decibel of concern raised.

A good place to start our understanding of a brand is naturally by defining what a brand is. Marty Neumier, the genius who authored The Brand Gap, offers this instructive definition – “A brand is a person’s gut feel about a product or service”. In other words, a brand is not what the company says it is. It is what the people feel it is. It is the sum total of what it means to them. Brands are perceptions. So, brands are defined by individuals not companies. But brands are owned by companies not individuals. Brands are crafted in privacy but consumed publicly. Brands are communal. Granted, you say. But that doesn’t still explain why everybody and their pet dog feel entitled to jump in feet first into a brand slug-fest armed with a hot opinion. True. But consider the following truism.

 

Brands are living. They act as milestones in our past. They are signposts of our identity. Beacons of our triumphs. Indexes of our consumption. Most importantly, they have invaded our very words and world view. Try going for just 24 hours without mentioning a single brand name. Quite difficult, right? Because they live among us they have become one of us. And we have therefore built ‘brand bonds’ with them. For example, iPhone owners gather here. You love your iPhone. It goes everywhere. You turn to it in moments of joy and when we need a quick mood boost. Notice how that ‘relationship’ started with desire as you longingly gazed upon it in a glossy brochure. That quickly progressed to asking other people what they thought about it. Followed by the zero moment of truth were you committed and voted your approval through a purchase. Does that sound like a romantic relationship timeline. You bet it does. Because it is. When we conduct brand workshops we run the Brand Loyalty ™ exercise wherein we test people’s loyalty to their favourite brand(s). The results are always quite intriguing. Most people are willing to pay a 40% premium over the standard price for ‘their’ brand. They simply won’t easily ‘breakup’ with it. Doing so can cause brand ‘heart ache’. There is strong brand elasticity for loved brands.

 

Now that we know brands are communal and endeared, then companies armed with this knowledge, must exercise caution and practise reverence when approaching the subject of rebranding. It’s fragile. The question marketers ought to ask themselves before gleefully jumping into the hot rebranding cauldron is – Do we go for an Evolution (partial rebrand) or a Revolution(full rebrand)? An evolution is incremental. It introduces small but significant changes or additions to the existing visual brand. Here, think of the subtle changes you’ve seen in financial or FMCG brands over the decades. Evolution allows you to redirect the brand without alienating its horde of faithful followers. As humans we love the familiar and certain. Change scares us. Especially if we’ve not been privy to the important but probably blinkered ‘strategy sessions’ ongoing behind the scenes. Revolutions are often messy. They are often hard reset about-turns aiming for a total new look and ‘feel’.

 

 

Hard rebranding is risky business. History is littered with the agony of brands large and small who felt the heat of public disfavour. In January 2009, PepsiCo rebranded the Tropicana. When the newly designed package hit the shelves, consumers were not having it. The New York Times reports that ‘some of the commenting described the new packaging as ‘ugly’ ‘stupid’. They wanted their old one back that showed a ripe orange with a straw in it. Sales dipped 20%. PepsiCo reverted to the old logo and packaging within a month. In 2006 Mastercard had to backtrack away from it’s new logo after public criticism, as did Leeds United, and the clothing brand Gap. AdAge magazine reports that critics most common sentiment about the Gap logo was that it looked like something a child had created using a clip-art gallery. Botswana is no different. University of Botswana had to retreat into the comfort of the known and accepted heritage strong brand.  Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital was badgered with complaints till it ‘adjusted’ its logo.

 

 

So if the landscape of rebranding is so treacherous then whey take the risk? Companies need to soberly assess they need for a rebrand. According to the fellows at Ignyte Branding a rebrand is ignited by the following admissions :

Our brand name no longer reflects our company’s vision.
We’re embarrassed to hand out our business cards.

Our competitive advantage is vague or poorly articulated.
Our brand has lost focus and become too complex to understand. Our business model or strategy has changed.
Our business has outgrown its current brand.
We’re undergoing or recently underwent a merger or acquisition. Our business has moved or expanded its geographic reach.
We need to disassociate our brand from a negative image.
We’re struggling to raise our prices and increase our profit margins. We want to expand our influence and connect to new audiences. We’re not attracting top talent for the positions we need to fill. All the above are good reasons to rebrand.

The downside to this debacle is that companies genuinely needing to rebrand might be hesitant or delay it altogether. The silver lining I guess is that marketing often mocked for its charlatans, is briefly transformed from being the Archilles heel into Thanos’ glove in an instant.

So what does a company need to do to safely navigate the rebranding terrain? Companies need to interrogate their brand purpose thoroughly. Not what they think they stand for but what they authentically represent when seen through the lens of their team members. In our Brand Workshop we use a number of tools to tease out the compelling brand truth. This section always draws amusing insights. Unfailingly, the top management (CEO & CFO)always has a vastly different picture of their brand to the rest of their ExCo and middle management, as do they to the customer-facing officer. We have only come across one company that had good internal alignment. Needless to say that brand is doing superbly well.

There is need a for brand strategies to guide the brand. One observes that most brands ‘make a plan’ as they go along. Little or no deliberate position on Brand audit, Customer research, Brand positioning and purpose, Architecture, Messaging, Naming, Tagline, Brand Training and may more. A brand strategy distils why your business exists beyond making money – its ‘why’. It defines what makes your brand what it is, what differentiates it from the competition and how you want your customers to perceive it. Lacking a brand strategy disadvantages the company in that it appears soul-less and lacking in personality. Naturally, people do not like to hang around humans with nothing to say. A brand strategy understands the value proposition. People don’t buy nails for the nails sake. They buy nails to hammer into the wall to hang pictures of their loved ones. People don’t buy make up because of its several hues and shades. Make up is self-expression. Understanding this arms a brand with an iron clad clad strategy on the brand battlefield.

But perhaps you’ve done the important research and strategy work. It’s still possible to bungle the final look and feel.  A few years ago one large brand had an extensive strategy done. Hopes were high for a top tier brand reveal. The eventual proposed brand was lack-lustre. I distinctly remember, being tasked as local agency to ‘land’ the brand and we outright refused. We could see this was a disaster of epic proportions begging to happen. The brand consultants were summoned to revise the logo. After a several tweaks and compromises the brand landed. It currently exists as one of the country’s largest brands. Getting the logo and visual look right is important. But how does one know if they are on the right path? Using the simile of a brand being a person – The answer is how do you know your outfit is right? It must serve a function, be the right fit and cut, it must be coordinated and lastly it must say something about you. So it is possible to bath in a luxurious bath gel, apply exotic lotion, be facebeat and still somehow wear a faux pas outfit. Avoid that.

Another suggestion is to do the obvious. Pre-test the logo and its look and feel on a cross section of your existing and prospective audience. There are tools to do this. Their feedback can save you money, time and pain. Additionally one must do another obvious check – use Google Image to verify the visual outcome and plain Google search to verify the name. These are so obvious they are hopefully for gone conclusions. But for the brands that have gone ahead without them, I hope you have not concluded your brand journeys as there is a world of opportunity waiting to be unlocked with the right brand strategy key.

Cliff Mada is Head of ArmourGetOn Brand Consultancy, based in Gaborone and Cape Town.

cliff@armourgeton.com

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Opinions

The case for Botswana to ratify the ACDEG

6th March 2023

The Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) is the most comprehensive dataset measuring African governance performance through a wide range of 81 indicators under the categories of Security & Rule of law, Participation, Rights & Inclusion, Foundations of Economic Opportunity, and Human Development. It employs scores, expressed out of 100, which quantify a country’s performance for each governance measure and ranks, out of 54, in relation to the 54 African countries.

The 2022 IIAG Overall Governance score is 68.1 and ranks Botswana at number 5 in Africa. In 2019 Botswana was ranked 2nd with an overall score of 73.3. That is a sharp decline. The best-performing countries are Mauritius, Seychelles, Tunisia, and Cabo Verde, in that order. A glance at the categories shows that Botswana is in third place in Africa on the Security and Rule of law; ninth in the Participation, Rights & Inclusion Category – indicating a shrinking participatory environment; eighth for Foundations of Economic Opportunity category; and fifth in the Human Development category.

The 2022 IIAG comes to a sweeping conclusion: Governments are less accountable and transparent in 2021 than at any time over the last ten years; Higher GDP does not necessarily indicate better governance; rule of law has weakened in the last five years; Democratic backsliding in Africa has accelerated since 2018; Major restrictions on freedom of association and assembly since 2012. Botswana is no exception to these conclusions. In fact, a look at the 10-year trend shows a major challenge. While Botswana remains in the top 5 of the best-performing countries in Africa, there are signs of decline, especially in the categories of Human Development and Security & Rule of law.

I start with this picture to show that Botswana is no longer the poster child for democracy, good governance, and commitment to the rule of law that it once was. In fact, to use the term used in the IIAG, Botswana is experiencing a “democratic backsliding.”

The 2021 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) had Botswana at 55/ 100, the lowest ever score recorded by Botswana dethroning Botswana as Africa’s least corrupt country to a distant third place, where it was in 2019 with a CPI of 61/100. (A score closer to zero denotes the worst corrupt and a score closer to 100 indicates the least corrupt country). The concern here is that while other African states are advancing in their transparency and accountability indexes, Botswana is backsliding.

The Transitional National Development Plan lists participatory democracy, the rule of law, transparency, and accountability, as key “deliverables,” if you may call those deliverables. If indeed Botswana is committed to these principles, she must ratify the African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance (ACDEG).

The African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance is the African Union’s principal policy document for advancing democratic governance in African Union member states. The ACDEG embodies the continent’s commitment to a democratic agenda and set the standards upon which countries agreed to be held accountable. The Charter was adopted in 2007 and came into force a decade ago, in 2012.

Article 2 of the Charter details its objectives among others as to a) Promote adherence, by each State Party, to the universal values and principles of democracy and respect for human rights; b) Promote and protect the independence of the judiciary; c) Promote the establishment of the necessary conditions to foster citizen participation, transparency, access to information, freedom of the press and accountability in the management of public affairs; d) Promote gender balance and equality in the governance and development processes.

The Charter emphasizes certain principles through which member states must uphold: Citizen Participation, Accountable Institutions, Respect for Human Rights, Adherence to the principles of the Rule of Law, Respect for the supremacy of the constitution and constitutional order, Entrenchment of democratic Principles, Separation of Powers, Respect for the Judiciary, Independence and impartiality of electoral bodies, best practice in the management of elections. These are among the top issues that Batswana have been calling for, that they be entrenched in the new Constitution.

The ACDEG is a revolutionary document. Article 3 of the ACDEG, sets guidance on the principles that must guide the implementation of the Charter among them: Effective participation of citizens in democratic and development processes and in the governance of public affairs; Promotion of a system of government that is representative; Holding of regular, transparent, free and fair elections; Separation of powers; Promotion of gender equality in public and private institutions and others.

Batswana have been calling for laws that make it mandatory for citizen participation in public affairs, more so, such calls have been amplified in the just-ended “consultative process” into the review of the Constitution of Botswana. Many scholars, academics, and Batswana, in general, have consistently made calls for a constitution that provides for clear separation of powers to prevent concentration of power in one branch, in Botswana’s case, the Executive, and provide for effective checks and balances. Other countries, like Kenya, have laws that promote gender equality in public and private institutions inscribed in their constitutions. The ACDEG could be a useful advocacy tool for the promotion of gender equality.

Perhaps more relevant to Botswana’s situation now is Article 10 of the Charter. Given how the constitutional review process unfolded, the numerous procedural mistakes and omissions, the lack of genuine consultations, the Charter principles could have provided a direction, if Botswana was party to the Charter. “State Parties shall ensure that the process of amendment or revision of their constitution reposes on national consensus, obtained, if need be, through referendum,” reads part of Article 10, giving clear clarity, that the Constitution belong to the people.

With the African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance in hand, ratified, and also given the many shortfalls in the current constitution, Batswana can have a tool in hand, not only to hold the government accountable but also a tool for measuring aspirations and shortfalls of our governance institutional framework.

Botswana has not signed, nor has it acceded or ratified the ACDEG. The time to ratify the ACDEG is now. Our Movement, Motheo O Mosha Society, with support from the Democracy Works Foundation and The Charter Project Africa, will run a campaign to promote, popularise and advocate for the ratification of the Charter (#RatifytheCharter Campaign). The initiative is co-founded by the European Union. The Campaign is implemented with the support of our sister organizations: Global Shapers Community – Gaborone Hub, #FamilyMeetingBW, Botswana Center for Public Integrity, Black Roots Organization, Economic Development Forum, Molao-Matters, WoTech Foundation, University of Botswana Political Science Society, Young Minds Africa and Branding Akosua.

Ratifying the Charter would reaffirm Botswana’s commitment to upholding strong democratic values, and respect for constitutionalism, and promote the rule of law and political accountability. Join us in calling the Government of Botswana to #RatifyTheCharter.

*Morena MONGANJA is the Chairperson of Motheo O Mosha society; a grassroots movement advocating for a new Constitution for Botswana. Contact: socialcontractbw@gmail.com or WhatsApp 77 469 362.

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