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Is Botswana’s Vision 2016 within reach: the case of world rankings?

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

Next year marks the end of Botswana’s Vision 2016 time frame. The question that we ought to ask ourselves is whether by 2016 we will have attained the pillars that we set ourselves as a measure of whether or not we are moving “Towards Prosperity for All”. While there are many ways of measuring that, in this article, I use Botswana’s World Rankings as accessed in knoema.com on 19th February 2015.

With respect to the ‘Human Development Index’, Botswana, with 1 being the most developed, attained 0.68 and 0.66 in 2013 and 2009 respectively. There is an improvement of 0.22. Norway, as the most developed, attained 0.94. The least developed was Niger at 0.34. Since this covers all the Vision 2016 pillars, it contributes positively towards attainment of the Vision, albeit marginally. The improvement is also a positive sign.

As regards the ‘Ease of Doing Business Index’, Botswana, out of 189 countries, attained positions 56 and 50 in 2014 and 2009 respectively. There is a decline of six positions. Singapore attained position 1. The least was Chad at position 189. The decline notwithstanding, the “A Prosperous, Productive and Innovative Nation” pillar is significantly assisted considering that we are 38 places above the world average.
 
With respect to the ‘Global Competitiveness Index’, Botswana, out of 144 countries, attained positions 74 and 66 in 2014 and 2009 respectively. There is a decline of eight positions. Switzerland attained position 1. The least competitive was Guinea at position 144. Our inroads on the “A Prosperous, Productive and Innovative Nation” pillar may be negated considering that we are two places below the world average.

In terms of the ‘Corruption Perception Index’, Botswana, out of 175 countries, attained positions 30 and 37 in 2013 and 2009 respectively. There is an improvement of seven positions. Denmark attained position 1. The most corrupt was Afghanistan at position 175. Though one corrupt person is one too many, considering that we are 57 places above the world average, our road to “A Prosperous, Productive and Innovative Nation” pillar has not reached a dead end as yet.

With respect to the ‘Index of Economic Freedom’, Botswana, with 100 representing the maximum freedom, attained 69.8 and 68.2 in 2015 and 2008 respectively. There is an improvement of 1.6. The most economically free is Laos at 51.4. The least economically free is North Korea at 1.3. This is a favorable indicator which will no doubt assist us in attaining the “A Prosperous, Productive and Innovative Nation” pillar.

As regards the ‘Democracy Index’, Botswana attained position 30 in 2012. Norway was the most democratic at position 1. The least democratic was North Korea at position 167. That we are 53.5 places above the world average is commendable and the ‘Open, Democratic and Accountable Nation’ pillar is well within reach.  

In terms of the ‘Political Rights Index’, Botswana, with 1 being the highest, attained 3.0 in both 2013 and 2009. The United Kingdom attained position 1 at 1.0. The least politically free was Cuba at 7.0. That we are marginally above average and are in fact not improving is worrying. The ‘Open, Democratic and Accountable Nation’ pillar may be at risk of non-attainment despite the favorable appraisal of the ‘Democracy Index’ as shown above.

With respect to the ‘Civil Liberties Index’, Botswana, with 1 being the highest, attained 2.0 in both 2013 and 2009. The United Kingdom attained position 1 at 1.0. The country were the citizenry enjoyed the least liberties was North Korea at 7.0. Despite the setback caused by the ‘Political Rights Index’, our positive posting in this area will no doubt assist us in attaining the ‘Open, Democratic and Accountable Nation’ pillar.  

With respect to the ‘International Property Rights Index’, Botswana, with the highest score being the best, attained 6.3 in both 2013 and 2012. Finland attained position 1 at 8.6. The least was Libya at 3.4. This positive outlook will go a long in contributing to the attainment of the “A Prosperous, Productive and Innovative Nation” pillar.  

As per the ‘Legatum Prosperity Index’, Botswana, out of 142 countries, attained positions 75 and 70 in 2014 and 2012 respectively. There is a decline of five positions. The most prosperous country was Norway at position 1. The least prosperous was Central African Republic at position 142. That we are below the world average and we are experiencing a decline in this area no doubt casts doubt on whether, the aforegoing notwithstanding, we will attain the “A Prosperous, Productive and Innovative Nation” pillar.  

With respect to the ‘Knowledge Index’, Botswana, with the highest score being 10, attained 3.81 and 4.65 in 2012 and 2000 respectively. There is a decline of 0.84. The most knowledgeable country was Sweden at 9.43. The least knowledgeable country was Myanmar at 0.96. With respect to the ‘Knowledge Economy Index’, Botswana attained 4.31 and 4.99 in 2012 and 2000 respectively. There is a decline of 0.68. The best country was Sweden at 9.38. The least country was Myanmar at 0.96. These two are perhaps the most worrying indicators. We will, therefore, not be able to attain the ‘An Educated and Informed Nation’ pillar. This will have several adverse spill-over effects considering the primacy of education and information on our people’s development.

In terms of the ‘Education Index’, Botswana, with the highest score being 10, attained 3.92 and 4.38 in 2012 and 2000 respectively. There is a decline of 0.46. The best country was New Zealand at 9.81. The least was Mozambique at 1.17. For the same reasons advanced under the ‘Knowledge Index’, this negative outlook will inarguably negate our efforts to attain the ‘An Educated and Informed Nation’ pillar.

With respect to the ‘Information and Communications Technologies Index’, Botswana, with the highest score being 10, attained 3.23 and 5.22 in 2012 and 2000 respectively. There is a decline of 1.99. The best country was Bahrain at 9.54. The least was Sierra Leone at 0.32. In view of our negative returns and decline under the ‘Knowledge Index’ and the ‘Education Index’, there is no doubt that we will not attain the ‘An Educated and Informed Nation’ pillar.   

With respect to the ‘Economic Incentive Regime Index’, Botswana, with the highest score being 10, attained 5.82 and 6.02 in 2012 and 2000 respectively. There is a decline of 0.2. The most economically incentivized country was Singapore at 9.66. The least was Zimbabwe at 0.12. This negative return, especially considering the decline, will erode the gains which would assist us attain the “A Prosperous, Productive and Innovative Nation” pillar.

With respect to the ‘Innovation Index’, Botswana, with the highest score being 10, attained 4.26 and 4.35 in 2012 and 2000 respectively. There is a decline of 0.02. The most innovative country was Switzerland at 9.86. The least was Angola at 1.17. That we are below the world average and are suffering a decline will not assist us in attaining the “A Prosperous, Productive and Innovative Nation” pillar.

With respect to the ‘Press Freedom Index’, Botswana, with the lowest being the perfect score, attained 22.9 and 15.5 in 2014 and 2009 respectively. There is a decline of 7.4. The best country was Finland at 9.54. The least was Eritrea at 84.8. This, being our worst performance and the area we have declined the most, poses a threat to attainment of such pillars as ‘An Educated and Informed Nation’, ‘Open, Democratic and Accountable Nation’, ‘ A Moral and Tolerant Nation’, ‘A Safe and Secure Nation’ and ‘A United and Proud Nation’.

On the whole, therefore, from the world rankings perspective, Vision 2016 may be out of reach for Botswana, albeit marginally. The decline in eight out of nineteen world rankings’ indicators and the below average performance in seven indicators will certainly not assist us. It is also worrying that we have experienced a decline from 2009, a period when we should have been solidifying our gains. Though the 2008 World Economic Recession adversely affected some of our deliverables, such indicators as ‘Ease of Doing Business Index’, ‘Corruption Perception Index’, ‘Democracy Index’, ‘Political Rights Index’ and ‘Press Freedom Index’ need not have been affected adversely for they require little or no resources to attain.

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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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