Many Christians struggle with the issue of tithing. It is perhaps one of the most divisive issues in the modern Church world, and perhaps unnecessarily so. But then again, money is always a touchy subject. It might be a fair conclusion to say that the issue of tithing is so divisive that the Church world is split in half over it; half for it and half against it.
And, a sizeable number in both camps have no settled stand. Both sides have potent scriptural basis for their doctrinal position. If circumcision was a hot potato in the early Church, tithing is our modern day equivalent.
Money will always be an emotional subject. It is inherently so. This powder keg is not helped by the fact that in some churches giving is over-emphasized. I've been born again for twenty years. And I can confidently say that I have heard more sermons on tithing than on any other subject. Yes, sir!
The sermons came and still come in different flavors; from impassioned, borderline begging pleas, to threats of curses, to manipulation, and whatever else could possibly tug at one's heartstrings. All too often it's been thinly veiled emotional and spiritual blackmail! I wouldn't be entirely too surprised if I got to hear one day that a man of the cloth preached on the tithe gun cocked and pointed at the congregation! It's that serious.
Much has been made of tithing and offering, and rightfully so. But at times the overemphasis has not helped matters, especially if not clearly presented and taught without emotion and an attempt to place the hearer under duress.
At the same time, many Christians refuse to submit to the biblical exhortations about making offerings to the Lord. Tithing/giving is intended to be a joy and a blessing. Sadly, that is all too often not the case in the Church today. But why is the subject of the tithe so divisive? Why does it elicit such passionate emotions, whether for or against it? What is the tithe?
The first biblical mention of tithing is found in Genesis 14. After four Mesopotamian kings had taken Lot captive, Abraham attacked them and recovered all the booty. After his victory, the king of Sodom came out to meet him, and so did Melchizedek, an enigmatic priest of God mentioned once here in Genesis and in only two other places in the Bible.
Melchizedek blessed Abraham, and then Abraham “gave him a tenth of everything” (Genesis 14:20). This Melchizedek is mentioned as a priest long before priesthood was introduced or even understood. Who instituted his priesthood? Through what means? What liturgical order did he follow? Encoded in what?
These questions are not easy to answer. The text does not tell us whether Abraham had ever tithed before, or ever tithed afterwards. Perhaps it was a custom of his culture. Perhaps not. Nothing can be conclusively inferred from the text.
Abraham was generous, and gave the rest of his booty to the king of Sodom (verses 23-24). Abraham kept all of God’s laws that were relevant in his day (Genesis 26:5), but Genesis does not tell us whether tithing was a law in Abraham’s day.
And unsurprisingly so. In Abraham's day there was no written legal code. It was the dispensation of conscience following a patriarchal tradition of handing over revealed divine instructions from one generation to another. Many of God’s decrees and requirements were built around the nation of Israel and the Levitical priesthood and tabernacle.
Abraham could not have kept such decrees and laws. He may have tithed regularly, but we cannot prove it. Abraham lived near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite (Genesis 14:13) at Hebron (Genesis 13:18). Hebron is about 15 miles south of Jerusalem.
The Genesis account says Abraham pursued Kedorlaomer north “as far as Dan” (Genesis 14:14), which is about 100 miles north of Jerusalem. When Abraham and his men caught up with Kedorlaomer at Dan, Abraham divided his men and attacked during the night, giving chase as far north as Hobah (north of Damascus) which is 30 miles north of Dan (Genesis 14:15-16). Abraham’s pursuit took him about 145 miles north of his home in Hebron.
Following his victory over Kedorlaomer, Melchizedek came out to meet Abraham in King’s Valley (to the east of Jerusalem) as he returned from Hobah (Genesis 14:17-18, Hebrews 7:1). Abraham’s home in Hebron was still another 15 miles to the south of King’s Valley.
Unless Abraham carried his household possessions with him to Dan and back (about 290 miles round trip), Abraham gave to Melchizedek only out of the spoils – plunder he carried back from his victory over Kedorlaomer (Hebrews 7:2,4). In that sense, it was Kedorlaomer, the enemy, who paid the tithe! I'll give you a minute to pick your jaw off the floor. There are important elements to consider in the story of Abraham's victory over Kedorlaomer.
A map in my Bible suggests the location for Sodom and Gomorrah near Zoar (Genesis 13:10), south east of the Dead Sea, which is about 50 miles from Hebron where Abraham lived. News was spread by word of mouth. It took time for word of Kedorlaomer's conquest of Sodom and Gomorrah to reach Abraham in Hebron. It took time for Abraham to assemble an army of 318 trained men from his household (Genesis 14:14).
All the while, Kedorlaomer was making his way north with Lot, his family, and the plunder of Sodom and Gomorrah, presumably making his way northward in the plains area east of the Jordan River, Dead Sea and Mt. Seir.
The mileage figures I used in the paragraph above, assume Abraham and his men headed due north from Hebron, on the west side of the Jordan River and Dead sea, converging on Kedorlaomer at Dan. If Abraham turned south from Hebron and went around the south end of the Dead Sea, through Zoar and Sodom and Gomorrah, it would be necessary to add at least 80 miles to the round trip figure above.
My point with all the discussion of mileage and geography, is that a small army of 318 men, in pursuit of a powerful army with a substantial 'head start', must travel light. I assume Abraham and his men pursued Kedorlaomer on foot, and carried only swords and shields, minimal food and water. A 'light infantry' going off to war, does NOT carry their household possessions with them, their silver and gold, nor did they drive their flocks and heards before them when in pursuit of Kedorlaomer.
Undoubtedly Abraham and his men ran in marathon-like fashion to catch up with Kedorlaomer. Their northward pursuit was over 115 miles of hilly terrain west of the Jordan and Dead Sea. If they turned south and followed Kedorlaomer's tracks from Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham and his men would have run nearly 200 miles before catching up with Kedorlaomer.
That Abraham's home was still 15-20 miles south of when he met up with Melchizedek in the King's Valley, shows a clear distinction between giving a tenth out of the plunder of war that Abraham brought back with him from Dan, and Abraham's personal wealth and income which remained at Abraham's household in Hebron. Interestingly, Genesis 13 says Abraham was already wealthy with silver, gold, and livestock, before he even moved to Hebron.
It's important to highlight that Abraham did NOT tithe out of his income. That's an incontestable fact. There is a distinct difference between Abraham's one time voluntary thanksgiving offering out of the plunders of war, and what was later instituted by the Law of Moses as the ongoing tithe for the Levitical priesthood.
Yes, later, when the tithe was incorporated into the Law, one was to tithe from their increase. But, in Abraham's case, what he gave the tithe from was NOT his income or his increase. It was from the plunders of war. To say that Abraham gave the tithe from his wealth would be a gross violation of clearly stated scriptural fact.
I believe that difference is the reason the NIV Bible translates the word "ma'aser" (Strong's Reference #4643) in Genesis 14:20 as "tenth" and not "tithe". The next mention of tithing is in Genesis 28:20-22. Jacob had a supernatural dream at Luz, which he later renamed Bethel. In the morning, Jacob vowed to give a tithe if God helped him during his journey.
He was trying to make a bargain with God. He wanted special help, and in return for that help, he was willing to worship God, and to tithe as a part of that worship. It is not clearly stated WHEN and HOW Jacob did finally honor his vow. What we have in the text is only a promise, and a conditional one at that.
The Genesis account goes on to show that Jacob did in fact go on to prosper in his journey and during his sojourn with Laban. So we can safely conclude that he did honor his promise and redeemed his tithe. Tithing may have been part of the common worship practices of that time and culture, or it may have been an extra-special vow for those who desperately desired divine help. This has to be the case because tithing was not coded into any written law.
Jacob had to have learned it from his grandfather, Abraham, or his father, Isaac. If that be the case, then perhaps we won't be too far off to truth to assume that tithing was a known practice in Jacob's day. It goes without saying that tithing is an Old Testament concept. But I want to go a bit further and say that tithing was, and is, a spiritual or revelational concept.
The tithe was a requirement of the Law in which the Israelites were to give 10 percent of the crops they grew and the livestock they raised to the tabernacle/temple (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5). In fact, the Old Testament Law required multiple tithes—one for the Levites, one for the use of the temple and the feasts, and one for the poor of the land—which would have pushed the total to around 23.3 percent! Some understand the Old Testament tithe as a method of taxation to provide for the needs of the priests and Levites in the sacrificial system. That makes perfect sense.
The New Testament nowhere explicitly commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. The New Testament nowhere designates a percentage of income a person should set aside, but only says gifts should be “in keeping with income” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Some in the Christian church have taken the 10 percent figure from the Old Testament tithe and applied it as a “recommended minimum” for Christians in their giving. However, silence on a matter is never to be interpreted to mean license on a matter.
Silence is not license. Some objections to the tithe is that it cannot possibly be applicable to us since there is no temple to which the tithe is to be taken, nor is the Levitical priesthood in existence since we, the Church, are now ALL become the priesthood. In other words, since there are no full time priests in our day and every believer is a priest, of necessity, the requirement to support priests is null and void.
This argument sounds potent on face value. But it conveniently omits the fact that even though every believer is a priest, there are still those God has set aside from amongst the rest to serve the rest. Ephesians 4:11-12 KJV  And he gave SOME, apostles; and SOME, prophets; and SOME, evangelists; and SOME, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ… It is my humble submission that it is these SOME who presently stand as "priests among priests."
Just as Israel was required to take care of the Levites, so is the modern Church required to take care of these "some" whose entire lives may be dedicated to ministering to the saints. I find the argument that we shouldn't tithe to support Churches and Pastors as decidedly unconvincing since a greater part of its premise is that, as we are now all priests, there are no "special" priests to receive our tithes.
A thorough examination of the totality of the New Testament punches holes in this argument. Paul's writings clearly show that there is still need to take care of those set apart for ministry, just as the Old Testament Levites were being taken care of.
The argument that we are all the same also doesn't hold in the evidence of New Testament hermeneutics or exegesis. While we must desist from categorizing believers into classes or even perhaps shy away from severing the Body of Christ into clergy and laity, it still is vividly clear that there are those set apart, distinctly so, from the rest of the Church. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 KJV  And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 
And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves. Could it be any clearer than this? If we are all the same, then who are these who are to be "known?" Who are these who "labor" if we are all laborers? Who are these who are "over you" in the Lord if we are all on the same footing? Who are these who are to be "esteemed very highly in love for their works' sake?"
Clearly, in my opinion, these are the modern day Levites! These are the ones who in our times are to receive the tithes. These are the full time Pastors/Bishops whose entire lives, like those of the Levites, are dedicated to the service of the Lord. Someone might say, "I hear you on that point, but what about the storehouse that Malachi spoke of? The temple system has been abolished, so there is no temple to take them to. Moreover, we, the Church, are now the temple!" This sounds like a fair question. However, we cannot separate the Levites from the temple.
Tithes were taken to the temple, yes; but they were received by the Levites. So, following from my earlier argument, where are the modern day Levites to be found? Why, at Church of course! But, you say, we are the Church! The temple is no longer a building! Correct. It is not. But there are still physical buildings we gather at where the Pastors minister to us as the Old Testament Levites ministered to Israel.
Although people are THE Church, we call the buildings where we worship "churches." Another objection from some is that the early Church actually met in homes and there were no recognized and institutionalized buildings serving as churches. Given that, we should not tithe because there are no temples. Again, while there is truth to this argument, it's not the whole truth.
The Book of Acts tells us that the believers habitually gathered at Solomon's Porch at Herod's Temple. This was their meeting place for corporate worship and to receive teaching. They were not at anybody's house! Moreover, take the in-gathering of 3,000 souls after Peter's sermon in Acts 2. Whose house would accommodate such a number?
Later on, 5,000 more men were added to the Church! Yes, there perhaps were multiple "cell" groups in Jerusalem, but there clearly was a massive Jerusalem Church led by the apostles. Again, I cannot be convinced that Paul's letters to Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, etc, were written to circulated around homes! Can you imagine Paul's letter "To The Church In Gaborone," and it's actually written to be read around multiple homes? I receive it and read it to my cell group in Broadhurst, then I pass it on to be read to another cell group in Maru a Pula and I tell them that after reading it, they must ensure that they pass it on to the cell group leader in Extension 9! I'm tempted to write "LOL!"
These were not chain letters! They were addressed to local assemblies that gathered in specific locations for corporate worship under pastoral leadership. There might have been "cell" groups meeting in various homes in those cities, but it cannot possibly be plausible to imagine that Paul's epistles were written to any other addressee except major, central assemblies in those places. It cannot be otherwise. So then, these would be the "temples" or "storehouses" of those cities and the Pastors therein would be the "Levites" who received tithes.
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
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.
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 oftheir 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: email@example.com or WhatsApp 77 469 362.