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Zimbabwe improves more than Botswana on good governance!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has just released the 2016 Ibrahim Index of African Governance which covers the period from 2006 to 2015. The Index scores 54 African countries in such areas as Safety & Rule of Law; Participation & Human Rights; Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development.

Though Botswana should be commended for sharing the podium of the three highest scoring countries in 2015 with Mauritius and Cabo Verde, it is troubling that it has suffered a decline in several indicators. On Overall Governance, Botswana attained position 2, scoring 73.7%, but it suffered a decline of -0.5%. Zimbabwe, however, improved by 9.7.

It is even more troubling that, as shall be shown below, Zimbabwe has improved more than Botswana in several areas. In fact, Zimbabwe joins Côte d’Ivoire and Togo in the three most improved countries over the decade.

While we should commend Zimbabwe, Côte d’Ivoire and Togo for making such strides, we will be failing Batswana if we neglected to caution Botswana to avoid being complacent for if it does it will lose its crown. This will be tragic considering the efforts our forefathers and foremothers put in raising us to glory.     

On Safety and Rule of Law, overall, Botswana attained position 1, scoring 81.9%, but it suffered a decline of -1.1 compared to the continent’s average of -2.8.  While Botswana, on average, did well compared to the continent, it is troubling that it was beaten by Zimbabwe which improved by + 6.2.

On Personal Safety, Botswana attained position 3, scoring 62.6%, but it suffered a decline of -0.2 compared to the continent’s average of -5.7.  While Botswana, on average, did well compared to the continent, it is troubling that it was beaten by Zimbabwe which improved by + 8.1.

On National Security, Botswana attained position 4, scoring a near perfect 99.9%, but it suffered a decline of -0.1 compared to the continent’s average of -4.1.  While Botswana, on average, did well compared to the continent, it is disconcerting that it was beaten by Zimbabwe which improved by + 6.7.

On Accountability, Botswana attained position 1, scoring 72.1%, but it suffered a decline of -1.8 compared to the continent’s average of -1.0.  Here, Botswana beat Zimbabwe whose ratings declined by -0.9.

On Rule of Law, Botswana attained position 3, scoring 93.0%, but it suffered a decline of -2.6 compared to the continent’s average of -0.3.  While Botswana, on average, did well compared to the continent, it is disquieting that it was beaten by Zimbabwe which improved by a handsome + 11.1.

On Participation & Human Rights generally, Botswana attained position 8, scoring 69.3%, but it suffered a decline of -4.1 compared to the continent’s average improvement of +2.4.  Botswana was not only outdone by the continent, it was also beaten by Zimbabwe which improved by a handsome + 14.7.

Specifically on Participation, Botswana attained position 8, scoring 78.0%, but it suffered a decline of -1.0 compared to the continent’s average improvement of +3.0.  Botswana did not only perform below the continent’s average, it was also beaten by Zimbabwe which improved by + 6.9.

Specifically on Rights, Botswana attained position 8, scoring 66.8%. It is admirable that Botswana improved by a good +7.8 compared to the continent’s average decline of -0.2.  However, Botswana was beaten by Zimbabwe which improved by + 16.3.

Specifically on Gender, Botswana attained position 18, its worst position. It scored 63.2%, but it suffered a decline of -9.8 compared to the continent’s average improvement of +4.3.  Botswana did not only perform below the continent’s average, it was also beaten by Zimbabwe which improved by a massive + 20.9.

On Sustainable Economic Opportunity generally, Botswana attained position 4, scoring 65.2%, but it suffered a decline of -0.7 compared to the continent’s average improvement of +1.8.  Botswana did not only perform below the continent’s average, it was also beaten by Zimbabwe which improved by + 10.5.

Specifically on Infrastructure, Botswana attained position 8, scoring 64.0%, but it suffered a decline of -0.2 compared to the continent’s average decline of -2.1.Botswana scored -47.8 and -5.2 on Electricity Supply and Reliable Electricity Supply respectively. Botswana, however, beat Zimbabwe which declined by -2.1.

Specifically on Public Management, Botswana attained position 4, scoring 62.3%, but it suffered a decline of -4.6 compared to the continent’s average decline of -1.1.  Botswana did not only perform below the continent’s average, it was also beaten by Zimbabwe which improved by a massive + 18.4.

Specifically on Business Environment, Botswana attained position 3, scoring 69.5%. It improved with +0.7. It also beat Zimbabwe which declined by -1.2. Botswana scored +22.0 and +0.6 on Employment Creation and Unemployment Rate respectively.

Specifically on Rural Sector, Botswana attained position 7, scoring 64.9%. It improved with +1.3 though that was below the continent’s average improvement of +2.6.  Botswana did not only perform below the continent’s average, it was also beaten by Zimbabwe which improved by a massive + 26.8.

On Human Development, Botswana attained position 3, scoring 78.5%. It improved with +3.9, beating the continent’s average improvement of +2.9. Botswana was, however, beaten by Zimbabwe which improved by an impressive + 7.4.

On Education, Botswana attained position 3, scoring 73.6%. It improved with +1.6 though that was below the continent’s average improvement of +4.2.  Botswana did not only perform below the continent’s average, it was also beaten by Zimbabwe which improved by a + 5.2.

On Health, Botswana attained position 3, scoring 85.1%. It improved with +2.3 which is above the continent’s average improvement of +2.2.  Botswana was, however, beaten by Zimbabwe which improved by + 8.8.

On Welfare, Botswana attained position 3, scoring 76.8%. It improved with an impressive +7.7 which is above the continent’s average improvement of +2.1.  Botswana’s improvement was, however, below Zimbabwe’s which is a good + 8.3.

Botswana scored 7.4 and 12.5 under Living Standards of the Poor and Equality of Public Revenue Use respectively. Zimbabwe, on the other hand, scored -55.4 and +29.8 respectively for the same categories.

On the whole, while Botswana improved in only 8 categories, it declined in 11 categories. Therefore, while Botswana, on average, performed well, attaining position 2 and scoring 73.7%, the fact that it suffered so many declines is a cause for concern, especially considering the targets it had set for itself in Vision 2016.

One can only hope that as she begins her Vision 2036 journey, Botswana will make a thorough introspection of where she went wrong and take remedial action before its beacon of democracy fades further.

With a small population, and being land locked, Botswana has little that attracts investors and tourists besides its internationally acclaimed good governance credentials. If these decline, our prosperity will be in jeopardy because our diamonds will be difficult to sell and few will find it worth their while to visit us for our wildlife.

But, government alone cannot safeguard our crown. We need a strong and principled Opposition; a robust media which reports without fear or favour; an impartial judiciary; a non-partisan civil service; a fearless legislature which ensures that the Executive accounts to Batswana; and a robust civil society which ensures that the voiceless have a voice.

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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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