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Our public service or civil service as it is commonly known is very unproductive by any measure. It currently lacks initiative and creativity. It just exists and does not make any real meaningful and measurable impact on the lives of Batswana in general and business in particular, if anything, it frustrates the efforts of ordinary people in their individual efforts to enhance their livelihood and also it limits the business community by making the business environment in our country onerous and unnecessarily unattractive when the contrary should be true.

I refuse to accept that our people are by nature unproductive. I refuse to agree that by nature our people in the civil service lack initiative. I refuse to concur with those who believe that our people by nature lack creativity. I believe strongly that our people can be productive, can be efficient and effective. 

I believe our civil service has the capacity, the skills and aptitude to be as productive, as efficient and as effective as the best civic service any where in the world or better. What then are the challenges that prohibit our public service from being the best it can be?  I would like to explore these challenges, but not as an academic exercise but as a social observation based on the existential realities in our country today.

The World Bank and or the IMF have said many times that our civil service is blotted and inefficient. The ordinary man in the street has experienced the full force of the infectiveness of our civil service in countless areas. The business community can also attest to the inefficiency and in effectiveness of the civil service. The government has also acknowledged this problem and even came up with a whole parastatal called the National Productivity Centre, which has made minimal impact on the productivity of the civil service. What then is the problem? What are the root causes?

Trying to address the productivity of the civil service without understanding and dealing  a fatal blow to the root causes is like trying to remove a tree by cutting the branches  without removing the roots, that tree will not only  continue to grow but it will grow faster with more branches sprouting out fast and furious much more than before. So over the years we have unknowingly been fertitising the inefficiency and the unproductivities of the civil service. We need to stop, ponder and carve a new path for our public service.

Here are the challenges facing our civil service as a clearly see it. The first significant challenge is wicked pay structure and very poor remuneration and benefits that our public service is subjected to. They say if you pay peanuts and treat people like brainless puppets, you must look for monkeys and puppets to do your work. The second major challenge is role clarity that is duplication of roles which is a sure way of making decision-making a slow and a very dubious process.

The third major challenge is poor communication resulting in unhealthy industrial relations and the emergency of unionism within the civil service that as we see has become so divisive and self seeking. The other challenge is political influence that together with the three challenges above have resulted in a very unhappy, very corrupt and consequently a very unproductive and inefficient public service.

Pay structure

Despite being one of the richest African country blessed with the richest mine in the world in the name of Jwaneng;, a country with a per capital gross domestic product of over US$7000, a country whose natural resources are the envy of many in the world, our civil service remains one of the worst in terms of remuneration in the world and in Africa. This is an insult to our people.

The disparity between the highest civil servant and the lowest is also gross and depressing.  I am not going to give the exact figures but the actual figures are publicly available for those who want exact figures. 

Our civil service, like any organisational structure has the executive, the management, the supervisory and the operatives. The executive earns between P20 000 and P40 000 (US$2 000 and US$4000), the management cadre earns between P13 000 and P20 000 (US$1 300 and US$2 000), the supervisory level earn between P4 000 and P13 000 (US$400 and US$1 300) and the bottom rung earns less than P4 000 (US$400) with some earning around P900 (US$90). These are monthly earnings not weekly earning as some in other country may think.

As you can see the difference between the lowest and the highest is gross, P900 to P40 000. The number of people in this structure will typically follow a normal distribution curve like any organisation where the very top and the and the very bottom will constitute about 5 % of the working population while the majority of the workers (more than 50%) will be in the middle earning between P2 000 and P10 000 which is by any standard very law and very depressing.

In a country such as ours where a typical worker supports at least four children and has extended relatives who are not working and expect the working person to support them, these earnings are gross and will result in these people being very unhappy, unhappy people cannot be productive, unhappy people do not simply care about their work. Because of this low pay these people will find other means, many times unlawful means to earn more money to support themselves and their families.  They will create overtime that is not necessary.

They will engage in other personal activities at work in order to get more money. This low pay is a breeding ground for corruption in the work place where artificial problems and bottlenecks are created in order for service seekers to pay bribes called by other sweet names in order to be assisted. No amount of training, no amount of schooling, on amount of degrees obtained, no amount of attending productivity workshops will change the status quo. Without enough money to meet their survival needs the civil servants will continue to be unhappy and unproductive.

Duplication of roles

It is true that the civil service is blotted, there are just too many people doing the same level of work, reporting in a long chain that only makes the work of a civil servant boring and exceedingly unattractive. How can one be creative in such a scenario, how can one be productive in such a scenario, how can one be concerned about the level of productivity, how can one be happy in their work place in such a scenario. 

Each person needs to have a meaningful, challenging and measurable job that he or she can call his or hers that will occupy 8 hours of his or her day, not sitting in an office waiting to append a signature on someone’s work. I was taught as a young man that idleness is the devils workshop. If you are not fully occupied during your workday, you will find other personal and or even evil things to do to keep your mind occupied. Gossiping, idle talk and interfering in other peoples work will become a norm thereby killing productivity in the work place.
Poor communication

Unionism has grown very fast in the civil service in recent years. I believe it is a result of a frustrated civil service that is now asserting its rights very aggressively due to poor communication. It is a realisation that the establishment does not care about the civil servant.  Come to think of it, what can this country achieve with civil servants who only carry their bodies to work and go home without having applied themselves in anyway, who feel that they are not appreciated?

Do we realise it is through the civil service that we can regulate, police the business community and make the business community function effectively, it is the civil service that collects all the taxes and revenues, it is the civil service that ensures that laws are written and obeyed, it is the civil service that ensure our children are educated, it is the civil service that ensures that we have a functioning health care. What service to we have that does not need to the civil servant. If the politicians think they are in charge they are still in deep slumber. The politician’s job is to empower and tool the civil service to deliver services in an efficient and effective manner. Poor communication and lack of appreciation has resulted in the status quo.

Politicising the civil service

The politicians have failed to manage our civil servants; they have turned the civil service into an unparallel militant body that will not propel this country forward at the speed it is destined to progress at. In my view the civil service should be totally apolitical, real neutral when it comes to politics.  Politics should be a taboo to the civil service.

The president and others in the ruling party have potiticised the civil service, they have publicly stated that they will appoint those card carrying members of their party into the civil service and will give offer government tenders based on political affiliations.  Imagine our police force taking party lines, imagine our solders doing the same, imagine our teachers, imagine our nurses and doctors as politicians and unionists.

I think like Chinua Achebe intimidated long time ago, things have fallen apart, the centre can no longer hold. We need a new centre to bring back glory to our civil servants, to reorganize and appropriately size the civil service, to give it a new mandate that of managing our country professionally with politicians being only facilitators and their mouth piece in public.

In conclusion, the civil servants must be paid well, really well in commensurate with the status of our economy. The civil servants must be recognised as professionals above politics. They should be no need for unionism within the civil service. Underpaying them, not recognising them as professionals, undermining their intelligence has created the current unproductive, self seeking and a very corrupt civil service. Good communication will endear the public servants to the government of the day.

Their job is to serve the nation regardless of which party is in power. Where civil servants are expected and in a way forced to be card carrying members of the ruling party is gross and must be condemned.

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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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