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A misguided political leadership

I have never really trusted politicians especially those in the ruling party since my youth. The reason being that during the elections every five years they came, made promises, ridiculed the opposition politicians as dreamers and went back only to come back for the same similitude after five years. Many of the promised developments, especially roads networks have still not been constructed almost fifty (50) years later making access to these villages very difficult resulting in a lot of our people migrating to towns and other villages.

Without roads and necessary developments who will be interested in investing in these villages? How many educated and informed people given a choice will remain in undeveloped remote villages, surrounded by poverty, with no social amenities?  How many people will choose to travel every weekend on dusty, bumpy and unsafe roads with their children to these far flung villages just for the sake of being in their beloved undeveloped villages? The fifty (50) year old song, the political song called diversification of the economy, will remain a song, a pipe dream that will last as long as we have the kind of politicians we have in this country, especially those in the ruling party.

The kind of politicians who do not realise that diversification will not happen until the country is first adequately prepared for it; the kind of politicians who do not realise that investors will come only if their livelihood and that of their families is not compromised; the politicians who does not realise that investors will need decent schools for their children, the politicians who do not understand that investors will need decent health care systems for their families, the politicians who do not appreciate that investors will need decent transportation infrastructure like road networks, railway facilities, telecommunication and air travel to reach the market and to fully benefit from and fully enjoy the benefits of his investment. Without the right kind of politicians no meaningful diversification of the economy will take place.  

Our politicians do not understand why Gaborone and the Greater Gaborone are so congested. They do not realise that it is because of our failure to decentralise and spread the economic burden to all the major centres of our country. Our politicians do not understand why the cost of living is unbearable for many living in Gaborone and the Greater Gaborone. They wonder why accommodation is extremely expensive in Gaborone and the Greater Gaborone.

They cannot see that it is because of poor planning that has resulted in concentration of all economic activities centred on these areas.  Gaborone was never designed for the population it is currently forced to support. The resultant congestion has complicated many things including land shortages resulting in expensive accommodation, on the lower end of the community economic spectrum accommodation is not only expensive, it is also appalling with many families living in one roomed accommodation which is used as a kitchen, a bathroom, a sitting room and a bedroom.

Roads are overflowing with traffic making driving not only a very expensive and dangerous occupation, but also a negative productivity factor as people cannot get to work on time and cannot carry their economic activities on time making the business environment very unattractive. Water supply challenges in and around Gaborone is a result of the volumes required to water Gaborone and the Greater Gaborone as a consequence of this congestion and poor planning and execution by our politicians. These politicians do not realise that developing rural areas will help in their diversification efforts and will ease congestions in Gaborone and surrounding villages.

As a young man I vowed never to be become a politician as I believed many politicians I observed as I was growing were just load mouths with very little in between their ears.  I was also told that it is the empty drums that make the loudest noise. I heard their loud noises in their load speakers as they bellowed and traversed our villages, at freedom squares canvassing for votes from desperate  and unsuspecting villagers who were always ready to hero worship these noisy politicians who always told them that they held the national purse for development of their villages.

I heard them too, they promised but never delivered. Every five years they came with their empty loud promises, and then disappeared never to be heard until the next five years. What a bunch of clowns!  See them at work in parliament and you will realise that indeed they are a bunch of clowns, not the honorables that they fake to be.

It is this crop of politicians who have not understood their role or who have deliberately misguided themselves for their own selfish interests, or who have not taken time to understand what their functions are or who neither have the ability nor the aptitude to understand their mandate or who are so malleable that they can easily be swayed to toe the line by the party leadership against their better judgment. It is this bunch of politicians who are purchasable, bought by promise of tenders and personal opportunities. It is these politicians who have sold their souls to their party at the expense of their mandate and the people they are supposed to represent. What a bunch of people!

The role of a politician is to represent the diverse interests of his or her people fearlessly with the courage and ferocity of a hungry lion to get the best ‘meal’ for his constituency and his country; to make laws that govern the country for the promotion of peace, tranquility and development, to allocate resources equitably through out the country and to be able to explain to the electorate the rationale behind each allocation of funds and the development priorities. It is not up to the Minister of Finance or the President to allocate resources. No. Their job is to manage and ensure a fair, transparent and equitable framework for the allocation of resources.  It is the responsibility of all politicians to allocate resources according to the needs of their people and the needs of the country using a fair and transparent system.

The people must see how the allocation will benefit them and it is the responsibility of the politicians to be able to explain these to their people as all the resources in the country belong to every citizen and therefore each citizen must be assured that the resources are allocated and used for his or her benefit one way or the other. When resources are used to benefit individuals and selfish interests then we have politicians who are irresponsible and lacking in character; then we have politicians who can be described as vultures and dishonorable; then we have politicians who should be purged and cast out of the political system.

Our politicians have given themselves responsibility to appoint and manage public servants including people employed in the parastatals. It seems they have even now expanded this self given mandate to influence critical and strategic appointments in the private sector because they hold the purse and influence on the civil servants. Politicians by nature are not experts in any field and they should not even want to be. 

Their job is to ensure that there is a legitimate, transparent and world class framework for appointment of civil servants, and employment of people running the parastatals such frameworks must be devised and managed by experts with politicians only playing an oversight role. Politicians should have no role whatsoever ever in private companies as this can only be a recipe for economic disaster that we see emerging in our beloved republic.

If you look closely to the failure of the entire government sponsored project you will realise that the politicians were and are running the show. The Morupule B it was the Minister of Mines who was running the show with BPC executive as just the minister’s messengers.  Just mention any government project and there are many, the ministers where and are responsible. At one stage when our current President was the Vice President he was given the mandate, his only mandate at the time to manage the implementation of all government projects. Did we get any of the projects implemented satisfactorily? No. But it was not his fault; he was not simply qualified to carryout that function. The current President continues to make the same mistake and has even made the mistake bigger and more expensive by now appointing retired and failed politicians to oversee government projects.

These are politicians who do not have any project implementation skills, how can they be appointed to manage projects and how do you expect them to make any positive difference? They are going to fail not because they are bad people but because they have been given jobs they are not qualified to do. Why can’t these people also realise that they are inadequately equipped for such jobs and decline these jobs? Do these people have the interests of the country at heart or only the interest to line their pockets? Do they care whether these projects will succeed or not?

What we need for these retired politicians is for them to be given adequate retirement packages to allow them to retire from public office gracefully and do their own thing in their own chosen areas of interest.

We do not need retired politicians to be made project managers when we have qualified younger people waiting to be given opportunities to prove themselves. We do not need retired and failed politicians to be made ambassadors when we know they have no such skills. What skills to they have to represent our country in foreign countries?  What skills do they have to find business opportunities for Batswana in those countries and what skills do they have to find investors in those countries and guide them to partner with Batswana to start businesses in Botswana? With good ambassadors we do not need some of the many politically motivated parastatals that have been created to promote foreign investment.

In conclusion, our politicians need to realise that they must change and start serving the interests of the people not their own interests. I believe what I have said here is a true reflection of our political status. However, I must admit that we have politicians in the past and now who have interests of their people at heart. They are however very few, I can mention a few but I will not.  It is disappointing and disheartening that almost all the politicians in the ruling party have sold their soul to their party forgetting their country and their people. They have regrettably become spineless puppets on the string to serve only the interests of the party.

We need to raise the voice of consciousness and urge these politicians to understand and pursue only their mandate and not to accept programs and laws that will drain our national coffers without commensurate benefit to the country. We need politicians who will stand for principle not only to satisfy their political bosses. Let us watch the American and European politicians at work and learn how function democracies work. The politicians including the president should not be above the law, the politician including the president should not be above his or her people; the politician including the president should rather be a true servant of the people.

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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: or WhatsApp 77 469 362.

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The Taiwan Question: China ramps up military exercises to rebuff US provocations

18th August 2022

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosis visit to Taiwan has violated the One-China policy, and caused the escalation of tensions across the Taiwan Strait. Experts and political observers across the spectra agree that Pelosis actions and subsequent pronouncements by US President Joe Biden gave impetus to an already simmering tension in the Taiwan Strait, provoking China to strengthen its legitimate hold on the Taiwan Strait waters, which the US and Taiwan deem as international waters.

Pelosis visit to Chinas Taiwan region has been heavily criticised across the globe, with China arguing that this is a serious violation of the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-US Joint Communiqus. In response to this reckless move which seriously undermined China’s sovereignty, and interfered in China’s internal affairs, the expectation is for China to give a firm response. Pelosi visit violated the commitments made by the U.S. side, and seriously jeopardized peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

To give context to Chinas position over Taiwan region, the history behind gives us perspective. It is also important to note that the history between China and Taiwan is well documented and the US has always recognized it.

The Peoples Republic of China recognises Taiwan as its territory. It has always been the case even before the Nationalist Republic of China government fled to the previously Japanese-ruled Island after losing the civil war on the mainland in 1949. According to literature that threat was contained for decades first with a military alliance between the US and the ROC on Taiwan, and after Washington switched diplomatic recognition to the PRC in 1979 by the US One China policy, which acknowledges Beijings position that Taiwan is part of One China. Effectively, Taiwans administration was transferred to the Republic of China from Japan after the Second World War in 1945, along with the split between the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) as a consequence of the Chinese Civil War. Disregarding this history, as the US is attempting to do, will surely initiate some defence reaction on the side of China to affirm its sovereignty.

However, this history was undermined since Taiwan claimed to democratise in the 1990s and China has grown ever more belligerent. Furthermore, it is well documented that the Biden administration, following the Trump presidency, has made subtle changes in the way it deals with Taipei, such as loosening restrictions on US officials meeting Taiwanese officials this should make China uneasy. And while the White House continues to say it does not support Taiwanese independence, Bidens words and actions are parallel to this pledge because he has warned China that the US would intervene militarily if China attacked Taiwan another statement that has provoked China.

Pelosi, in her private space, would know that her actions amount to provocation of China. This act of aggression by the USA seriously undermines the virtues of sovereignty and territorial integrity which has a huge potential to destabilize not only the Taiwan Strait but the whole of the Asia- Pacific region. The Americans know very well that their provocative behavior is deliberately invoking the spirit of separatism masqueraded as Taiwan independence. The US is misled to think that by supporting separatism of Taiwan from China that would give them an edge over China in a geopolitics. This is what one Chinese diplomat said this week: The critical point is if every country put their One-China policy into practice with sincerity, with no compromise, is going to guarantee the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Therefore, it was in the wake of US House speaker Nancy Pelosis visit to Taiwan, that China, in a natural response revealed plans for unprecedented military exercises near the island, prompting fears of a crisis in the Taiwan Strait and the entire Asia-Pacific region. The world community must promote and foster peace, this may be achieved when international laws are respected. It may also happen when nations respect the sovereignty of another. China may be in a better space because it is well capacitated to stake its territorial integrity, what about a small nation, if this happens to it?

As to why military exercises by Beijing; it is an expected response because China was provoked by the actions of Pelosi. To fortify this position, Chinese President, Xi signed a legal basis for Chinas Peoples Liberation Army to safeguard Chinas national sovereignty, security and development interests. The legal basis will also allow military missions around disaster relief, humanitarian aid and peacekeeping. In addition the legal changes would allow troops to prevent spillover effects of regional instabilities from affecting China, secure vital transport routes for strategic materials like oil, or safeguard Chinas overseas investments, projects and personnel. It then follows that President Xis administration cannot afford to look weak under a US provocation. President Xi must protector Chinas sovereignty and territorial integrity, of which Taiwan is a central part. Beijing is very clear on One-China Policy, and expects all world players to recognize and respect it.

The Peoples Liberation Army has made it clear that it has firepower that covers all of Taiwan, and it can strike wherever it wants. This sentiments have been attributed to Zhang Junshe, a researcher at the PLA Navy Research Institute. Zheng further said, We got really close to Taiwan. We encircled Taiwan. And we demonstrated that we can effectively stop intervention by foreign forces. This is a strong reaction from China to warn the US against provocation and violation of the One-China Policy.

Beijings military exercises will certainly shake Taiwans confidence in the sources of its economic and political survival. The potential for an effective blockade threatens the air and shipping routes that support Taiwans central role in global technology supply chains. Should a humanitarian situation arise in Taiwan, the blame would squarely be on the US.

As Chinas military exercises along the Taiwan Strait progress and grow, it remains that the decision by Nancy Pelosi to visit Chinas Taiwan region gravely undermined peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and sent a wrong signal to Taiwan independence separatist forces. This then speaks to international conventions, as the UN Secretary-General Antnio Guterres explicitly stressed that the UN remains committed to the UN General Assembly Resolution 2758. The centerpiece is the one-China principle, namely, there is but one China in the world, the government of the Peoples Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and Taiwan is a part of China. It must be noted that the US and the US-led NATO countries have selectively applied international law, this has been going on unabated. There is a plethora of actions that have collapsed several states after they were attacked under the pretext of the so-called possession of weapons of mass destruction illuminating them as threats – and sometimes even without any valid reason. to blatantly launch military strikes and even unleash wars on sovereign countrie

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Internal party-democracy under pressure

21st June 2022

British novelist, W. Somerset Maugham once opined: If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.

The truism in these words cannot be underestimated, especially when contextualizing against the political developments in Botswana. We have become a nation that does not value democracy, yet nothing represent freedom more than democracy. In fact, we desire, and value winning power or clinging to power more than anything else, even if it harms the democratic credentials of our political institutions. This is happening across political parties ruling and opposition.

As far as democracy is concerned, we are regressing. We are becoming worse-off than we were in the past. If not arrested, Botswana will lose its status as among few democratic nations in the Africa. Ironically, Botswana was the first country in Africa to embrace democracy, and has held elections every five years without fail since independence.

We were once viewed as the shining example of Africa. Those accolades are not worth it any more. Young democracies such as South Africa, with strong institutions, deserves to be exalted. Botswana has lost faith in democracy, and we will pay a price for it. It is a slippery slope to dictatorship, which will bring among other excess, assault on civil liberties and human rights violations.

Former President, Festus Mogae once stated that Botswanas democracy will only become authentic, when a different party, other than the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) wins elections, and when the President of such party is not from Serowe.

Although many may not publicly care to admit, Mogaes assertion is true. BDP has over the years projected itself as a dyed-in-the-wool proponent of democracy, but the moment its stay in power became threatened and uncertain, it started behaving in a manner that is at variance with democratic values.This has been happening over the years now, and the situation is getting worse by the day.

Recently, the BDP party leadership has been preaching compromise and consensus candidates for 2024 general elections. Essentially, the leadership has lost faith in theBulela Ditswedispensation, which has been used to selected party candidates for council and parliament since 2003. The leadership is discouraging democracy because they believe primary elections threaten party unity. It is a strange assertion indeed.

Bulela Ditswewas an enrichment of internal party democracy in the sense that it replaced the previous method of selection of candidates known as Committee of 18, in which a branch committee made of 18 people endorsed the representatives. While it is true that political contest can divide, the ruling party should be investing in political education and strengthening in its primary elections processes. Democracy does not come cheap or easy, but it is valuable.

Any unity that we desire so much at the expense of democracy is not true unity. Like W. Somerset Maugham said, democracy would be lost in the process, and ultimately, even the unity that was desired would eventually be lost too. Any solution that sacrifice democracy would not bring any results in the long run, except misery.

We have seen that also in opposition ranks. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) recently indicated that its incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) should not be challenged for their seats. While BDP is sacrificing democracy to stay in power, UDC is sacrificing democracy to win power. It is a scary reality given the fact that both parties ruling and opposition have embraced this position and believe democracy is the hindrance to their political ambitions.

These current reality points to one thing; our political parties have lost faith in democracy. They desire power more than, the purpose of power itself. It is also a crisis of leadership across the political divide, where we have seen dissenting views being met with persecution. We have seen perverting of political process endorsed by those in echelons of power to manipulate political outcomes in their favour.

Democracy should not be optional, it should be mandatory. Any leader proposing curtailing of democracy should be viewed with suspicion, and his adventures should be rejected before it is too late. Members of political parties, as subscribers of democracy, should collectively rise to the occasion to save their democracy from self-interest that is becoming prevalent among Botswana political parties.

The so-called compromise candidates, only benefits the leadership because it creates comforts for them. But for members, and for the nation, it is causing damage by reversing the gains that have been made over the years. We should reject leaders who only preach democracy in word, but are hesitant to practice it.

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