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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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Plight of GBV amid Covid-19

26th November 2020
16-days-of-activism

The United Nation’s UNiTE campaign has marked the beginning of 16 days of activism against Gender-based Violence which will end in December 10 2020, under the global theme, “Orange the world: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”

The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign (UNiTE campaign), managed by UN Women — is a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls around the world.

The UN Women’s generation equality campaign emphasises the call for global action to bridge funding gaps, ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the COVID-19 crisis, focus on prevention, and collection of data that can improve life-saving services for women and girls.

Furthermore, the UN Secretary General’s report maintains that this year is like no other. Even before Covid-19 hit, violence against women and girls had reached pandemic proportions.

Globally, according to United Nations, 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in the past year.

Meanwhile, less than 40 percent of women who experience violence report it or seek help.

Evidently they suggest that as countries implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women, especially domestic violence, intensified- in some countries, calls to helplines have increased five-fold.

“In others, formal reports of domestic violence have decreased as survivors find it harder to seek help and access support through the regular channels. School closures and economic strains left women and girls poorer, out of school and out of jobs, and more vulnerable to exploitation, abused, forced marriage, and harassment,” said the UN.

According to the UN, in April 2020 as the pandemic spread across the world, the UN Secretary-General called for “peace at home”, and 146 member states responded with their strong statement of commitment.

“In recent months 135 countries have strengthened actions and resources to address violence against women as part of the response to Covid-19. Yet, much more is needed,” said the report.

Moreover, they submit that as today, although the voices of activists and survivors have reached a crescendo that cannot be silenced or ignored, ending violence against women will require more investment, leadership and action.

“It cannot be sidelined; it must be part of every country’s national response, especially during the unfolding COVID-19 crisis,” contended the UN report.

For the 16 Days of Activism, UN Women handed over the mic to survivors, activists and UN partners on the ground, to tell the story of what happened after COVID-19 hit.

According to Dubravka Šimonovic, special rapporteur on violence against women, there is urgent need to end pandemic of femicide and violence against women.

Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, she emphasizes that as the world grapples with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impact on women, a pandemic of femicide and gender-based violence against women is taking the lives of women and girls everywhere.

Therefore, she is calling on all States and relevant stakeholders worldwide to take urgent steps to prevent the pandemic of femicide or gender related killings of women, and gender-based violence against women, through the establishment of national multidisciplinary prevention bodies or femicide watches/observatories on violence against women.

These bodies should be mandated to 1) collect comparable and disaggregated data on femicide or gender-related killings of women; 2) conduct an analysis of femicide cases to determine shortcomings, and recommend measures for the prevention of such cases, and 3) ensure that femicide victims are not forgotten by holding days of remembrance.

“Data this mandate has collected since 2015 through my Femicide Watch initiative corroborates the data available from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and indicates that among the victims of all intentional killings involving intimate partners, more than 80% of victims are women.  Many of these femicides are preventable. Since 2015, a growing number of States have either established femicide watches or observatories, and in an increasing number of countries, it is the independent human rights institutions, civil society organizations, women’s groups and/or academic institutions that have established femicide watches or observatories,” she argued.

GBV in Botswana

UNFDP (United Nations Population Fund) Botswana cites that, locally over 67 percent of women have experienced abuse, which is over double the global average.

“Gender-based violence undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence and normalization. Victims of violence, the majority of which are women and girls, can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and even death,” indicated UNFDP

In his 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA) he delivered on Monday 9th November at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC), President Mokgweetsi Masisi said government is concerned about the snowballing of GBV incidences, saying, they have prioritized drafting of a Sexual Offenders Bill to be tabled during the sitting of the 12th Parliament.

“The Bill will establish a Sex Offenders’ Registry to record and publicise names and particulars of all persons convicted of sexual offences. To date twelve districts have set up the District Gender Committees in Chobe, Kweneng, Kgatleng, Kgalagadi, Maun, Serowe, Selibe-Phikwe, North East, Bobirwa Sub District, Mabutsane Sub District, Goodhope Sub District as well as Mahalapye Sub District. These committees will promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, and also address gender based violence,” Masisi said.

The President highlighted that the Botswana Police Service, which has been dealing a lot with GBV cases has taken swift action and introduced a Toll-Free number for reports on gender based violence. He further indicated that the Police will establish a Gender and Child Protection Unit

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Transgender persons in Botswana live a miserable life

23rd November 2020
Transgender persons

An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.

In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.

In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.

Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.

More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.

At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.

The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).

Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).

International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.

In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”

The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”

According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.

In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.

The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.

LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.

“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.

Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.

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Khato Civils fights back, dares detractors

23rd November 2020
Khato-civil

CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”

Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.

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