The Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA) has been ranked in the top five Think Tanks in the Sub-Saharan region.
BIDPA is only outshined by Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) (Kenya); IMANI Center for Policy and Education (Ghana); South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) (South Africa); and Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) of Senegal.
The bottom four Think Tanks are Swaziland Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (SEPARC) (Swaziland) at number 62; Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR) (Rwanda) occupying position 63; African Institute for Applied Economics (AIAE) (Nigeria) at 64; and Development Policy Research Unit (DPRU) (South Africa) at spot 65.
According to the Executive Director of BIDPA, Dr Tebogo Seleka, the improvement in ranking implies that BIDPA’s work on policy research and analysis is recognized as being of good quality amongst the organisation’s peers.
“It was mainly the outcome of deliberate effort by the Institute to refocus its work to allow for increased emphasis on supply-driven work (independent work initiated by the Institute), rather than demand-driven work (consultancies), to further ensure the delivery of the Institute’s think tank mandate. Over the past four years, the Institute has embarked on a program that has allowed it to increase its publications, policy dialogue, stakeholder engagement and public education, which are at the core of the Institute’s mandate,” he observed.
Think tanks have become more active players in domestic and foreign policy in the last two decades and are now present in 182 countries. While think tanks continue to be concentrated in the United States and Western Europe, several factors are driving the growth of think tanks in other areas of the world.
According to Seleka, as a policy research Institute, BIDPA should continue to emphasize the production of evidence through research, which can then be used as reference material to engage in continuous policy dialogue between Government and the Non-sate sectors.
“We believe that the improvement in BIDPA’s ranking over the past four years is a reflection of the Institute’s progress in this regards. We are therefore challenged to continue our effort at aligning our work to the development needs and priorities of this country. The independence that the Institute has enjoyed since its establishment in 1995 has also enhanced its growth over years,” he stressed.
According to the 2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report prepared by James G. McGann, Think Tanks have increased and expanded dramatically, with approximately 6,618 think tanks currently operating all around the world.
“Think tanks are public-policy research analysis and engagement organizations that generate policy-oriented research, analysis, and advice on domestic and international issues, thereby enabling policymakers and the public to make informed decisions about public policy. Think tanks may be affiliated or independent institutions that are structured as permanent bodies, not adhoc commissions.
These institutions often act as a bridge between the academic and policymaking communities and between states and civil society, serving in the public interest as independent voices that translate applied and basic research into a language that is understandable, reliable, and accessible for policymakers and the public,” reads McGann’s document.
He observes that the ongoing challenge for think tanks is to produce timely and accessible policy-oriented research that effectively engages policymakers, the press, and the public on the critical issues facing a country. Gone are the days when a think tank could operate with the motto “research it, write it and they will find it.” Today, think tanks must be lean, mean, policy machines.
McGann stresses that demand for Independent Information and Analysis has given Think Tanks impetus. “Over the last 15 years, the state’s monopoly and control of information has rapidly diminished due to technological advances, globalization, and democratic movements. With the emergence of the so-called “Data Revolution,” there is a new need for governments, NGOs, and research institutes to collaborate in sharing data and closing data gaps.
These trends have created a space for knowledge-based institutions like think tanks to provide independent information and analysis. In other words, “big data is the oil of the information economy that needs to be treated as an economic asset. If not, actors are doomed to the old witticism of knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing”.”
McGann explains why Think Tanks are crucial
Increased Complexity of Policy Issues: Governments are faced with a range of highly technical and complex problems that require a high degree of expertise, requiring policymakers to seek outside advice. At the same time, governments are under increased pressure to improve economic and bureaucratic performance.
The complexity of these policy issues also arises from our current globalized context. In today’s world, policy formation is no longer under the sole control of the state, issues are not fully domestic or foreign, and the international system is anything but simple and straightforward.
Instead of one organization being completely in control of accomplishing a particular task, the assignment may rely on the collaboration of various institutions. Jones adds additional insight:
“Agencies must approach the delivery of their mandate with a networked approach to policy and governance. Accountability structures can usefully focus on holding units accountable for their mission or role description. Relationship management concern and participatory processes should be central focuses.” Historically, governments have turned to think tanks for evidence and advice on these matters – but that may be changing.
Increasingly Open Debate about Government Decision-Making: Interest groups and public citizens are less deferential to government monopolies on decision making, which has put a premium on more open discussion of issues and policy options. Key players are less likely to accept government information and rationales, creating a demand for more independent sources of analysis. Global policy and advocacy networks have increased the power and influence of these organizations.
Global “Hacktivist,” Anarchist, and Populist Movements: Within the last 18 months, a seemingly unrelated set of movements have sprung up across the globe that have one thing in common: they all, at their core, are anti-establishment in nature. The groups have emerged in countries as diverse as India, Greece, Egypt, Tunisia, China, Bahrain, Chile, the United States, and Turkey. This new wave of global populism has gathered the young, unemployed, underemployed, and disaffected into mass movements, often leader-less, aimed at challenging the established political and economic order.
Fueled by the economic crisis, political paralysis, and policy gridlock of many regional and national governments, these popular movements have surfaced to give voice to the public dissatisfaction with corruption, the abuse of civil liberties, and the general ineffectiveness and indecisiveness of their leaders. It is also in response to a credibility and representation gap where citizens feel that they have been marginalized and that they have elected leaders that are out of touch with their needs and interests.
Increasing Political Polarization: National politics are increasingly polarized in many countries around the globe, a trend that has increased the paralysis and policy gridlock in many legislative bodies. Political battle lines are now drawn between polar opposites: Liberal vs. Conservative, Secular vs. Fundamentalist, Political Reform vs. Tighter Government Control, Reduced Government Spending (Austerity) vs. Increased Government Spending (Stimulus).
And while we have always had conflicting priorities and worldviews, they are now more extreme in nature. This increased political polarization has made it difficult – if not impossible – to find common ground or to reach consensus on many of the critical policy issues of our time.
According to the Global report, the World Bank has called for a Global Partnership for the Data Revolution to help think tanks collaborate in sharing data. Involving a wide variety of agencies, the collaboration would focus on developing and sharing relevant information.
Think tanks will play a crucial role in the process, furthering existing efforts for greater independent analysis and information. However, the high number of think tanks and other institutions working to meet the demand for information means that the quality of information could potentially suffer.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.