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.
Despite the President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Namibian counterpart, Hage Geingob giving an impression that the borderline security disputes are a thing of the past and that diplomatic ties remain tight, fresh developments from Namibia suggest otherwise, following Geingod’s close confidante’s attack on Botswana and its army.
Giving a Zambezi region state of the affairs last week, a Geingob-appointed governor of Zambezi region, Colonel Lawrence Ampofu, a retired Colonel in the Namibian Defence Force, former plan combatant during the liberation struggle of Namibia, in a written speech, charged at the BDF and condemned their killings of the Namibians as unacceptable.
“The security situation within our borders remains calm. The incidence of the Botswana Defence Force shootings and wanton killings on the Nchindo Brothers on 05 November 2020 and other 37 Namibian lives lost since independence remain a serious challenge with our neighbor, Botswana.
Our residents living along the Chobe, Linyanti and Kwandu rivers are living under constant threats, harassment, fear, intimidation and killings and such activities are condemned and not acceptable,” he said under the safety and security title.
The attack suggests that Namibia has not bought Botswana’s story. Ampofu was part of the entourage that accompanied Geingob to the three Nchindo brothers and their cousin who were gunned down by the BDF, and is reported to be privy to the details of the unpublished Botswana-Namibia joint investigations report about the killings as a governor or political head of the region which has eight electoral constituencies.
The report contains the sensitive details of how the three Namibians referred as poachers by the BDF – and Fisherman by the Namibian government were gunned down on 5 November last year along the Chobe River. They were Tommy (48), Martin (40) and Wamunyima Nchindo (36), and their cousin Sinvula Muyeme (44).
His views are not really in contrast to his President’s views who also described the BDF as trigger happy in a scripted report to his cabinet.
The Zambezi region is located in the extreme north east part of Namibia and covers a total of 14,667.6 square kilometres. “We share borders with Angola, Zambia to the north, Zimbabwe to the east and Botswana to the South,” he said.
Sampofu was first appointed governor of the former Caprive Region in 2010 by the former Namibian president, Hifikepunye Pohamba and was reappointed as Zambezi governor by President Dr.Hage Geingob in 2015, a term running to 2025.
37 Namibia residents killed by Botswana army so far
Sampofu is a man who continues to insist that Botswana has killed 37 residents of his region. A video posted by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) shows him alleging that at least 37 Namibians were killed by the BDF, after he met with the community at Impalila.
“It is true, the BDF started long ago. As we speak 37 lives have been lost here in Impalila along the Chobe river going to Linyanti and Kwado rivers up to Lizauli. All those families lost their loved ones,” Ampofu said in the video posted by NBC.
It is not known how the BDF, which has maintained their position that the Namibians were engaging in illegal activities of poaching, treats the constant attacks by the Namibian authorities, but they have repeatedly vowed to continue protecting the country’s sovereignty and natural resources.
Botswana’s premier brewer and leading distributor of beer, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), this month dragged the government of Botswana to court after President Mokgweetsi Masisi imposed an alcohol ban with immediate effect. KBL labelled the decision as unjustifiable, irrational and that it overrides the rights that are enshrined in the constitution.
This week, Masisi through attorneys representing the government disparaged the case in his written affidavit of KBL’s application, referring to it as frivolous and that it ought to be dismissed with costs on a punitive scale.
In his court papers, Masisi reminded KBL that Botswana is a Republic whose laws find validity from the constitution, and in terms of Section 17 of the constitution the President is empowered to declare a State of Emergency and that it is a common cause that Botswana is under such state.
“It is common course that there is in existence emergency powers (Covid-19) Regulations 2020 as amended from time to time which is solely designed to regulate the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
Masisi pointed out that he denies that the application before Court is proper such as to challenge the lawfulness and validity of a regulation made and a notice published in the exercise of a legislative function in accordance with the Emergency Powers Act which empowers the President to make regulations as appear to him to be necessary and expedient for securing public safety.
Furthermore, the President revealed that the decision to ban alcohol sales was not arrived at willy-nilly, but rather that there had been careful considerations that the risks posed by Covid-19 had increased and therefore it was expedient and necessary to suspend all liquor licenses.
Moreover, Masisi denied that the decision to reinstate the ban should be made by the Director of Health Services as indicated by KBL in their nature of the application, “the Director is to cause the notice to be published in the Gazette after consultation with the President.”
Masisi indicated that the role of the Director of Health Services is to publish a regulation made by the President.
He further, reminded KBL that the power to make regulations in a State of Public Emergency in accordance with the EPA lies with the President, “such power includes the amendment of any enactment, suspending the operation of any enactment or modification of an enactment.”
According to Masisi, his decision to ban alcohol sales was based on evidence provided by the Director of Health Services who indicated to him that there was a sudden spike in the transmission of the Covid-19 virus following the reinstatement of liquor licenses.
Another piece of advice tendered by the Director of Health to Masisi was that bars and other liquor outlets were some of the major hotspots in the sense of such being high-risk areas at which the virus spread rapidly.
“Alcohol was one of the major causes of non-compliance with the health protocols that were put in place to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Further, there was an indication that more arrests were made on people failing to adhere to Covid-19 protocols more particularly at places where there were gatherings,” he contended.
He pointed out that therefore, it was expedient and or necessary to preserve lives and to reduce the risks of transmissions of the virus to reinstate the suspension of liquor licenses.
Moreover, the President says that it must be noted that he avers that the Director of Health Services is a credible source on matters of public health of which he also accordingly gave due weight to the Director’s advice on deciding to reinstate the ban through the impugned notice.
“I am aware and was always aware at the time of promulgating the regulation complained of that it shall negatively affect some sectors of the economy. However, after due consideration and receipt of advice, I decided to give priority to the safety and health of the nation,” Masisi said.
He presaged KBL that it would not be prudent and in the best interest of the nation to ignore a health emergency such as Covid-19 and gave preference to trading and making of profits by the applicant. “The results would only be catastrophic to the extent that when we emerge from the scourge we would be left with a depleted and ailing nation from Covid-19 and its side effects.”
Furthermore, his written affidavit further pointed out that the decision to reinstate the ban on alcohol was taken notwithstanding understanding and appreciation of the economic hardships that would befall the country.
However, he said he deliberately made the decision based on the evidence provided to him by the Director of Health, whose evidence he believes to be credible to give public/safety and health priority over economic considerations in some sectors.
In making the decision, Masisi states that he was and considered different options including allowing for sale of alcohol consumption off premises, however the evidence he had been provided with suggested that such other alternatives would not achieve the overall objective of securing public safety and health by reducing the risk of the spread of the virus.
“By the time I imposed the ban, alcohol was already being sold for consumption off-premises. This did not work. The information provided to me by the Director and the Presidential Task-Force team demonstrated that consumers purchased alcohol and then loitered and consumed it within the peripheries of bars and other liquor outlets,” he said.
Attached to the affidavit as emphasis, were photographs and videos of Gaborone West, Phase 4 in mid-June 2021, which he explains circulated on social media and was brought to his attention.
“I need not say much about the photos as they depict a crowd exceeding 50 gathered at the parking area of a bar. There is little or no regard to Covid-19 protocols. It was clear to me and my advisors, including the Director of Health Services and members of the Presidential Task-Force team that the total ban of alcohol was necessary to manage the risk of increase in infections, to understand what seems to have led to an increase in the risk of infection when alcohol is present I was advised by the Presidential Task-Force team that scientifically there has been evidence that alcohol narrows physical distance,” he argued.
Masisi says that allegations made by KBL are serious allegations of infringement of fundamental rights yet they fail to state how imposition and reinstatement of the suspension of liquor licenses out of necessity and expediency of the health of the nation infringes on the rights as alleged.
In an embarrassing turn of events that depicts disintegration in government communication on the fight against COVID-19, President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Assistant Minister of Health & Wellness, Sethomo Lelatisitswe gave two conflicting statements on the same matter, same day, just minutes apart.
The Commander-in-Chef told health practitioners and residents in Ramotswa that the COVAX facility has scammed African countries after billions were paid in a crowd funding effort to procure COVID-19 vaccines in bulk.
“We have pumped money as developing countries of the African continent into the COVAX Facility but the returns were not satisfactory, they cheated us,” the President said in Ramotswa.
According to President Masisi, the COVAX facility Vaccine only came in bits and pieces, frustrating the continent ‘s head immunity targets amid rapidly spreading Delta Variant which is currently reversing all progress made by Africa in containing the contagious virus.
“What we are getting is very small portions of the vaccine, they keep telling us that there is shortage of supply, this is not fair, but we have paid in advance, however what can we do, we have no choice but to spend more money and look for other avenues of securing other available vaccines,” he said.
Meanwhile in Gaborone, Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness told Parliament that vaccine from COVAX facility is anchoring Botswana’s vaccination program.
“I am not aware of such information that COVAX facility is not delivering as expected, we are actually bolstered by COVAX facility in this country,” he said responding to a question from Mahalapye West Member of Parliament David Tshere who is also Chairman of Parliament Committee On Health and HIV/AIDS.
“We have received doses as ordered from the COVAX facility, and we are still receiving more, I have not seen that information which is purported to have been revealed by the President, unless its new information, we as the Ministry we are not aware of any frustrations by the COVAX facility,” he said.
COVAX is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF.
Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.
The facility is a global coalition that works to ensure fair and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines around the world. So far, 190 countries have joined the COVAX initiative, including all 22 countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.
The COVAX Facility aims to have 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines available for distribution across the globe by the end of 2021, targeting those most at risk (e.g. frontline health workers) and most vulnerable severe diseases and death (e.g. elderly and people with co-morbidities).
On other vaccination issues President Masisi revealed, still in Greater Gaborone vaccination centre visits, that Botswana has placed orders with Pfizer, a United States vaccine producer noting that they have promised to deliver next year.
Meanwhile, government kick-started phase two of the Covid-19 vaccination program this week, opening up for ages between 30 and 54.
President Masisi revealed that this was done because some elderly were reluctant to be inculcated.
“We can’t take forever trying to convince people to take vaccine, we moved to the next age segments because we cannot afford to have vaccines-which are already in shortage supply to just lie there,” he said.
On Friday, Ministry of Health revealed that it was receiving large numbers of people below the age of 55 lining up to be vaccinated.
In a statement the Ministry of Health said it, “acknowledges the huge turnout that marked the commencement of the Phase two COVID-19 vaccination program”.
Given this high turnout, especially in the Greater Gaborone region, the ministry announced an extension of operation hours in order to serve the huge crowds that had come for vaccination.
Of the nearly 85 000 doses that were being doled across the country as first doses, the majority of the Greater Gaborone vaccination sites were already getting depleted by 1800hrs on 22 July 2021.
As a result of this development, the ministry took a decision to discontinue the extended hours of operation announced yesterday for vaccination sites in Gaborone.
This means that vaccination sites in Gaborone and elsewhere in the country which still have some vaccines, will offer them in the normal working hours and days of the week.
The Ministry says it appreciates the great desire to be vaccinated shown by thousands of citizens and residents of this country and wishes to assure them that it will continue to expedite their vaccination every time vaccines become available. As has been communicated in various fora, more vaccines are expected in August 2021.
As at July 2021, Botswana has so far received 62, 400 doses of AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD bought through the Covax facility, 30,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine donated by the Republic of India, 19, 890 doses of the Pfizer vaccine bought through the COVAX facility, 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine, donated by the Peoples Republic of China and another 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine bought through bilateral negotiations with Sinovac company in China.
“We encourage Batswana to remain hopeful that although it’s taking longer than anticipated, enough COVID-19 vaccines will eventually arrive in our country. We urge them to always strictly abide by all COVID-19 protocols so that they protect themselves and others from this deadly virus,” the ministry said.