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Academics frustrated by Gov’t snub in policy formulation

Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) academics have expressed disgruntlement over government’s continual snubbing of their research based solutions aimed at revitalizing the sluggish agricultural sector.


At a workshop held this week, organised by Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA) and Food Agriculture, Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) to facilitate policy dialogue on climate smart agriculture, academics revealed that government has ignored their research as well as that of other quasi-government research institutions.


Associate Professor at BUAN, Cecil Patrick, revealed in a discussion that he and his colleagues have found it difficult to influence government policy because government officials are indifferent in engaging them to find the solutions to Botswana’s slow-moving agricultural sector.


When the country gained independence 50 years ago, agriculture contributed 40 percent to Botswana’s economy, but has since degenerated to almost insignificant contribution, with below 3 percent figures registered in recent years. Prof Patrick said this is mainly due to government’s approach of formulating policies which are not informed by research, which therefore fail in helping to revive the sector.


Patrick is one of the academics who have researched extensively on agriculture, with the view of influencing government policy but with no headway as yet. He told the workshop that, in one of his recent researches, it proved difficult for his work to get the attention of then Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Marcus Chimbombi.


He further noted that when he finally managed to get in touch with the ministry; the research was shelved and ignored for good afterwards. Other academics made comments in the same line, stating that sometimes government chooses to implement policies which are completely different from what the available research recommends.


Government is also accused of being obsessed with recommendation from research carried out abroad without first having to establish if the recommendation can apply in the context of Botswana. According to Patrick, Botswana needs to always utilise researches to justify decision making at policy level. He also said conventional farming methods have their merits and should not be discarded as it has been recommended by government on several occasions.


While farmers have been told to rear other breeds over Tswana, some academics are of the view that reasons advanced for rearing other breeds at the expense of Tswana  breed are not sufficient to justify entire ‘cleansing’  of the Tswana breed.
Dr Olatotswe Kgosikoma said most recommendations in the agricultural sector lack local research backing to validate their implementation. He noted that contrary to what some may believe, if something works in other countries it does not necessarily mean it will work for Botswana. He said it was thus necessary to conduct local research before implementing such recommendations.


Professor Nnyaladzi Batisani of Botswana Institute for Technology, Research and Innovation (BITRI) has highlighted that it is necessary for government policies across all ministries and departments should inform each other in order to produce desired results. Prof Batisani observed that, sometimes an agricultural policy will have a good intended purpose, only to be hindered by what a land policy stipulates, proving counterproductive eventually.


He said there is a need to develop policy frameworks and for government continual finance researches for the purpose of producing best results. It is not the first time that government has been accused of implementing policies which are not influenced by research. Earlier this year in a Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) workshop, Dr Comfort Mokgothu,  Chairperson of Transport and Logistics sector committee, contended that while Botswana might have progressed significantly with regards to well trained human resources, academics still have no place in formulation of policies because government policies are not always informed by research.


The agriculture sector has not been given priority for decades, with its ministry getting lowest funds as compared to other ministries. For the financial year 2016/17, Ministry of Agriculture received the second least share with a recurrent budget of P1.09 billion. Botswana is heavily reliant on South Africa for agricultural produce and the country is unable to produce enough to meet the country’s demand.

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Free at last: Ian Kirby Speaks Out

6th December 2021
Justice Ian Kirby

The outgoing President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, shares his thoughts with us as he leaves the Bench at the end of this year.

WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?

Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.

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Civil society could rescue Botswana’s flawed democracy’ 

6th December 2021
Parliament

Botswana’s civil society is one of the non-state actors that could save the country’s democracy from sliding into regression, a Germany based think tank has revealed.  This is according to a discussion paper by researchers at the German Development Institute who analysed the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes In Botswana.

In the paper titled “E-government and democracy in Botswana: Observational and experimental evidence on the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes,” the researchers offer a strongly worded commentary on Botswana’s ‘flawed democracy.’  The authors noted that with Botswana’s Parliament structurally – and in practice – feeble, the potential for checks and balances on executive power rests with the judiciary.

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Bangwato at loggerheads over Moshupa trip

6th December 2021

Bangwato in Serowe — where Bamagwato Paramount Chief and former President Lt. Gen Ian Khama originates – disagree on whether they must send a delegation to dialogue with President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s family in Moshupa. Just last week, a meeting was called by the Regent of Bamagwato, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, at Serowe Kgotla to, among others, update the tribe on the whereabouts of their Kgosi (Khama). 

Further, his state of health was also discussed, with Kgamane telling the attendees that all is well with Khama. The main reason for the meeting was to deliberate on the escalating tension between Khama and Masisi — a three-year bloodletting going unabated.

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