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.
Intelligence and Security Service Act, which is a law that establishes the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DIS), provides for establishment of a Parliamentary Committee. Recently, the President announced nine names of Members of Parliament he had appointed to the Committee.
This announcement was preceded by a meeting the President held with the Speaker and the Leader of Opposition. Following the announcement of Committee MPs by the President, the opposition, through its leader, made it clear that it will not participate in the Committee unless certain conditions that would ensure effective oversight are met. The opposition acted on the non-participation threat through resignation of its three MPs from the Committee.
The Act at Section 38 provides for the establishment of the Committee to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Directorate. The law provides that the Parliamentary Committee shall have the same powers and privileges set out under the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act.
On composition, the Committee shall consist of nine members who shall not be members of Cabinet and its quorum shall be five members. The MPs in the Committee elect a chairperson from among their number at their first meeting.
The Members of the Committee are appointed by the President after consultation with the Speaker of the National Assembly and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly. It is the provision of the law that the Committee, relative to its size, reflect the numerical strengths of the political parties represented in the National Assembly.
The Act provides that that a member of the Committee holds office for the duration of the Parliament in which he or she is appointed. The Committee is mandated to make an annual report on the discharge of their functions to the President and may at any time report to him or her on any matter relating to the discharge of those functions.
The Minister responsible for intelligence and security is obliged to lay before the National Assembly a copy of each annual report made by the Committee together with a statement as to whether any matter has been excluded from that copy in pursuance of the provision of the Act.
If it appears to the Minister, after consultation with the Parliamentary Committee, that the publication of any matter in a report would be prejudicial to the continued discharge of the functions of the Directorate, the Minister may exclude that matter from the copy of the report as laid before the National Assembly.
So, what are the specific demands of the Opposition and why are they not participating in the Committee? What should happen as a way forward? The Opposition demanded that there be a forensic audit of the Directorate. The DIS has never been audited since it was set up in 2008, more than a decade ago.
The institution has been a law unto itself for a longtime, feared by all oversight bodies. The Auditor General, who had no security of tenure, could not audit the DIS. The Directorate’s personnel, especially at a high level, have been implicated in corruption. Some of its operatives are in courts of law defending corruption charges preferred against them. Some of the corruption cases which appeared in the media have not made it to the courts.
The DIS has been accused of non-accountability and unethical practices as well as of being a burden on the fiscus. So, the Opposition demanded, from the President, a forensic audit for the purpose of cleaning up the DIS. They demand a start from a clean slate.
The second demand by the Opposition is that the law be reviewed to ensure greater accountability of the DIS to Parliament. What are some of the issues that the opposition think should be reviewed? The contention is that the executive cannot appoint a Committee of Parliament to scrutinize an executive institution.
Already, it is argued, Parliament is less independent and it is dominated by the executive. It is contended that the Committee should be established by the Standing Orders and be appointed by a Select Committee of Parliament. There is also an argument that the Committee should report to Parliament and not to the President and that the Minister should not have any role in the Committee.
Democratic and Parliamentary oversight of the intelligence is relatively a new phenomenon across the World. Even developed democracies are still grappling with some of these issues. However, there are acceptable standards or what might be called international best practices which have evolved over the past two or so decades.
In the UK for instance, MPs of the Intelligence and Security Committee are appointed by the Houses of Parliament, having been nominated by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. This is a good balancing exercise of involvement of both the executive and the legislature. Consultation is taken for granted in Botswana context in the sense that it has been reduced to just informing the Leader of Opposition without much regard to his or her ideas; they are never taken seriously.
Furthermore, the current Committee in the UK has four Members of the ruling party and five MPs from the opposition. It is a fairly balanced Committee in terms of Parliamentary representation. However, as said above, the President of Botswana appointed six ruling party MPs and three from the opposition.
The imbalance is preposterous and more pronounced with clear intentions of getting the executive way through the ruling party representatives in the Committee. The intention to avoid scrutiny is clear from the numbers of the ruling party MPs in the Committee.
There is also an international standard of removing sensitive parts which may harm national security from the report before it is tabled in the legislature. The previous and current reluctance of the executive arms to open up on Defence and Security matters emanate from this very reason of preserving and protecting national security.
But national security should be balanced with public interest and other democratic principles. The decision to expunge certain information which may be prejudicial to national security should not be an arbitrary and exclusive decision of the executive but a collective decision of a well fairly balanced Committee in consultation with the Speaker and the minister responsible.
There is no doubt that the DIS has been a rogue institution. The reluctance by the President to commit to democratic-parliamentary oversight reforms presupposes a lack of commitment to democratization. The President has no interest in seeing a reformed DIS with effective oversight of the agency.
He is insincere. This is because the President loathes the idea losing an iota of power and sharing it with any other democratic institution. He sees the agency as his power lever to sustain his stay in the high office. He thought he could sanitize himself with an ineffective DIS Committee that would dance to his tune.
The non-participation of the opposition MPs renders the Committee dysfunctional; it cannot function as this would be unlawful. Participation of the opposition is a legal requirement. Even if it can meet, it would lack legitimacy; it cannot be taken seriously. The President should therefore act on the oversight demands and reform the DIS if he is to be taken seriously.
For years I have trained people about paradigm shifts – those light-bulb-switch-on moments – where there is a seismic change from the usual way of thinking about something to a newer, better way.
I like to refer to them as ‘aha’ moments because of the sudden understanding of something which was previously incomprehensible. However, the topic of today’s article is the complete antithesis of ‘aha’. Though I’d love to tell you I’d had a ‘eureka ‘, ‘problem solved’ moment, I am faced with the complete opposite – an ‘oh-no’ moment or Lost Leader Syndrome.
No matter how well prepared or capable a leader is. they often find themselves facing perplexing events, confounding information, or puzzling situations. Confused by developments of which they can’t make sense and by challenges that they don’t know how to solve they become confused, sometimes lost and completely clueless about what to do.
I am told by Jentz and Murphy (JM) in ‘What leaders do when they don’t know what to do’ that this is normal, and that rapid change is making confusion a defining feature of management in the 21st century. Now doesn’t that sound like the story of 2020 summed up in a single sentence?
The basic premise of their writing is that “confusion is not a weakness to be ashamed of but a regular and inevitable condition of leadership. By learning to embrace their confusion, managers are able to set in motion a constructive process for addressing baffling issues.
In fact, confusion turns out to be a fruitful environment in which the best managers thrive by using the instability around them to open up better lines of communication, test their old assumptions and values against changing realities, and develop more creative approaches to problem solving.”
The problem with this ideology however is that it doesn’t help my overwhelming feelings of fear and panic which is exacerbated by a tape playing on a loop in my head saying ‘you’re supposed to know what to do, do something’. My angst is compounded by annoying motivational phrases also unhelpfully playing in my head like.
Nothing happens until something moves
The secret of getting ahead is getting started
Act or be acted upon
All these platitudes are urging me to pull something out of the bag, but I know that this is a trap. This need to forge ahead is nothing but a coping mechanism and disguise. Instead of owning the fact that I haven’t got a foggy about what to do, part of me worries that I’ll lose authority if I acknowledge that I can’t provide direction – I’m supposed to know the answers, I’m the MD! This feeling of not being in control is common for managers in ‘oh no’ situations and as a result they often start reflexively and unilaterally attempting to impose quick fixes to restore equilibrium because, lets be honest, sometimes we find it hard to resist hiding our confusion.
To admit that I am lost in an “Oh, No!” moment opens the door not only to the fear of losing authority but also to a plethora of other troubling emotions and thoughts: *Shame and loss of face: “You’ll look like a fool!” * Panic and loss of control: “You’ve let this get out of hand!” * Incompetence and incapacitation: “You don’t know what you’re doing!”
As if by saying “I’m at a loss here” is tantamount to declaring “I am not fit to lead.” Of course the real problem for me and any other leader is if they don’t admit when they are disoriented, it sends a signal to others in the organisation stating it’s not cool to be lost and that, by its very nature encourages them to hide. What’s the saying about ‘a real man never asks for direction. ..so they end up driving around in circles’.
As managers we need to embrace the confusion, show vulnerability (remember that’s not a bad word) and accept that leadership is not about pretending to have all the answers but about having the courage to search with others to discover a solution.
JM point out that “being confused, however, does not mean being incapacitated. Indeed, one of the most liberating truths of leadership is that confusion is not quicksand from which to escape but rather the potter’s clay of leadership – the very stuff with which managers can work.”
2020 has certainly been a year to remember and all indications are that the confusion which has characterised this year will still follow us into the New Year, thereby making confusion a defining characteristic of the new normal and how managers need to manage. Our competence as leaders will then surely be measured not only by ‘what I know’ but increasingly by ‘how I behave when I accept, I don’t know, lose my sense of direction and become confused.
.I guess the message for all organizational cultures going forward is that sticking with the belief that we need all-knowing, omni-competent executives will cost them dearly and send a message to managers that it is better to hide their confusion than to address it openly and constructively.
Take comfort in these wise words ‘Confusion is a word we have invented for an order not yet understood’!