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Decline in accountability hurts implementation – BIDPA

BIDPA SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW: Keneilwe Marata

Senior Research fellows at the Botswana Institute of Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA), Gape Kaboyakgosi and Keneilwe Marata have pinpointed key factors that have led to implementation challenges in Botswana. They noted that for public policy goals to be realized, implementation needs to be optimized.


According to the Researchers, these include declining public accountability, lack of commitment to reforming the public sector, and a decline in commitment by state authorities and the declining credibility of the government’s ability to adhere to its policies, among other factors. These challenges emerge as strong bottlenecks to optimal policy implementation.


Lack of commitment to selected policy choices is emerging as an important challenge for project implementation. Kaboyakgosi and Marata posit that since the turn of the new millennium, the government has increasingly created and adopted policies to which it does not adhere.


They cite that policy commitment assists in building state credibility (when dealing with outsiders such as investors), and certainty among the locals. They also give a number of examples that show failure in this respect:

• The failure to privatize Air Botswana after the Government had called for international bidders to buy a stake in the national airliner, including the government spending funds in procuring an international transaction advisor,

• The failure to procure a private sector partner to develop the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) campus in Palapye in partnership with the Government, as had been promised. Though the Government’s call for a partner resulted in two such partners posting a P1 million each, the fate of the two bonds of one million Pula each that were posted remain unclear

• Commitment to the Public Private Partnerships (PPP) Policy appears half-hearted. Whereas the policy was adopted by Parliament, there appears to be little enthusiasm for PPPs and there is insufficient explanation why this is so. Thirteen years after the adoption of the Public-Private Partnership Policy and Framework, only two minor undertakings have been carried out under the PPP framework.


According to Kaboyakgosi and Marata, besides the slowing momentum of policy implementation, the policy reversals mentioned above have other costs. They observed that a committee charged with reviewing the implementation failures associated with building the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), came up with a number of costs likely to result from policy reversals related to the project.

These include uncertainty of investment returns, impact on investor confidence, and adverse impact on the international marketing of Botswana projects, negative perception of government commitment, and the erosion of reputation in the medium term.


The BIDPA researchers also point out that Botswana appears to be experiencing a steady decline in accountability. Botswana’s public accountability has declined from 75 percent in 1996 to 60 percent in 2010, according to the World Bank Institute, they write. According to Kaboyakgosi and Marata, optimal public accountability ensures that goals are not diverted, and excesses are kept at a minimal, but holding politicians and public servants accountable for their actions (or omissions) is diminishing in Botswana.


“Such a culture pervades the civil service and state owned corporations. In the civil service, the limited capacity for oversight by Parliament and the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) compounds the problem.

Parliament comes into contact with the budget on the day the speech is read by the Minister in charge of finance and development planning. Parliament then has only a month to debate a document that has taken ten times longer to prepare, with little access to the parameters that informed the same budget(s). Similarly, the OAG lacks the authority to enforce some of the decisions it makes in relation to poor management of public resources, leading to repeated malpractice,” wrote Kaboyakgosi and Marata.


The two Researchers poke further by stating that: “Where state owned corporations are concerned, a number of parliamentary inquiries have revealed a worrying trend that points to lack of accountability. Committees set up to investigate poor performance at the Botswana Meat Commission (Republic of Botswana 2013) and the failure of the Palapye Glass Project both conclude that the major causes of failure include poor corporate governance, lack of due diligence, failure to contain prices, and poor project management. Poor accountability results in implementing agents not taking their tasks seriously, misappropriating funds, or changing the goals of policy.”


They are also concerned by the reluctance to reform. Kaboyakgosi and Marata observe that since the turn of the century, Botswana’s rankings in certain policy areas, particularly those concerned with industrial development, diversification, and competitiveness and doing business have been declining steadily. Initially adept at reforming her political, economic, legal and other frameworks, Botswana’s reluctance to reform is becoming more pronounced. The submit that the decline as shown by indicators such as the Doing Business Index (DBI) and the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) suggests an unwillingness by Botswana to reform policies and laws to respond to a changing world.


“While it is arguable that the DBI shows some growth for the period under review, such growth is minimal, given the urgency to position Botswana as a destination of choice for foreign direct investment. The GCI on the other hand shows a steady decline in performance, from number 56 best countries in the world in 2008 to number 80 by 2011,”they wrote.


Another notable example of a reform process that has been abandoned quietly is the implementation of the results based monitoring and evaluation (RBM) inside the Government. RBM is used to generate information and data needed for evidence based policy making and it facilitates accountability and aids planning.


“Lack of commitment to reform is also evidenced by the failure to empower reform institutions, such as the National Strategy Office and the Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatization Agency (PEEPA), thus rendering them incapable of driving reform. The NSO, a semiautonomous agency in the Office of the President, whose mandate includes coordinating the Botswana Excellence Strategy (BES), lacks legal authority to undertake certain aspects of its mandate. Similarly PEEPA, formed out of the Privatisation Policy for Botswana to advise the Government on the readiness of state owned institutions for privatization, has no legal basis to implement its mandate because it is a creation of a policy. As a result, neither one of these important agencies is able to enforce its mandate, leaving compliance and implementation to the discretion of the implementing agencies.”

The challenges of policy complexity

Another implementation challenge, according to the two BIDPA Researchers, is the growing complexity of the economy, administration and society. They point out that three challenges characterize complex implementation problems: The capacity to tackle complex problems is often distributed among actors; Complex problems are difficult to predict: many social, political and economic problems are not easy to forecast; and Complex problems often involve conflicting goals.


They insist that while many of the policy challenges facing the Government are complex, many implementation structures are ill-suited to handle complexity. According to Kaboyakgosi and Marata, the result of this is that implementers focus overly on one cause or effect, to the detriment of other equally important causes or effects of these policy challenges.


They buttress that Botswana’s persistent challenges such as poverty, the spread of HIV, slow diversifying economy and high unemployment have multiple causes and effects, so managing them is difficult. Many laws and policies, as well as agencies need to be mobilized to achieve positive outcomes.


In addition, Kaboyakgosi and Marata observed that another important implementation challenge is the propensity, particularly in the public sector, to undertake projects without due assessment of the need for such projects. They point out that projects are developed because of the ability of the Government to procure them than an assessed need for such projects. Examples include the following:

• Both the Francistown and Maun abattoirs to add to the original one at Lobatse resulted in the Botswana Meat Commission losing profitability as its cost structure rose.

• Undertaking the Morupule B Power Plant, BIUST, major dams all within a five year span constrained labour supply and drove construction prices up (MIST 2012), and

• Constructing vocational training colleges (VTCs), led to an over-supply of these, and an undersupply of students and instructors.


The BIDPA researchers state that Supply driven implementation has a number of undesirable consequences. Among these effects are that though undertaken at great financial cost, outputs of such implementation tend to have little relevance to the needs of the nation. Additionally, when projects are implemented without due regard for demand, priority areas are deprived of much needed funds.

“Added to the foregoing, projects implemented without due regard for the demand send wrong signals to the market; businesses tend to mobilize financial and other resources in response to what they see as public sector priorities, only for these to have minimal future sustainability. The consequences of this is that businesses may borrow money from banks, train and employ human resources and purchase materials, only for the Government priorities to change, saddling such businesses with expensive and idle facilities,” they wrote in their paper.


Kaboyakgosi and Marata further indicate that while there appears to be consensus that implementation challenges have become more pronounced in Botswana, there is no explanation for this problem. They state that until recently, lack of finance, which is one of the often cited implementation challenges, has not been a problem in Botswana. “However, this challenge is likely to gain prominence with the decline of mineral revenues. The next section therefore outlines some of the causes of Botswana’s implementation challenges”.


Furthermore, Botswana’s implementation challenges transcend economic and social policies as well as affect the capacity of the state to achieve many of its stated policy aims. According to Kaboyakgosi and Marata, a number of implementation challenges have since become prominent in Botswana and these include the persistence of HIV/AIDS, slow economic diversification, rising youth unemployment, poverty and social inequality.

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Botswana economic recovery depends on successful vaccine rollout – BoB

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Bank of Botswana (BoB) has indicated that the rebounding of domestic economy will depended on successful vaccine roll-out which could help business activity to return to its post pandemic days.

Projections by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggest a rebound in economic growth for Botswana in 2021.

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Inside the UB-BDF fighter Jet tragedy report

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Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.

Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”

Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”

The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.

“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.

Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.

Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.

Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.

Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”

In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”

Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.

“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.

Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.

Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.

He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”

Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.

“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.

One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.

A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.

Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.

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Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.

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