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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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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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The Era of “The Diplomat”

30th November 2020
FATED “JIHADI” JOHN

Youngest Maccabees scion Jonathan takes over after Judas and leads for 18 years

Going hand-in-glove with the politics at play in Judea in the countdown to the AD era, General Atiku, was the contention for the priesthood. You will be aware, General, that politics and religion among the Jews interlocked. If there wasn’t a formal and sovereign Jewish King, there of necessity had to be a High Priest at any given point in time.

Initially, every High Priest was from the tribe of Levi as per the stipulation of the Torah. At some stage, however, colonisers of Judah imposed their own hand-picked High Priests who were not ethnic Levites. One such High Priest was Menelaus of the tribe of Benjamin.

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Land Board appointments of party activists is political corruption

30th November 2020

Parliament has rejected a motion by Leader of Opposition (LOO) calling for the reversing of the recent appointments of ruling party activists to various Land Boards across the country. The motion also called for the appointment of young and qualified Batswana with tertiary education qualifications.

The ruling party could not allow that motion to be adopted for many reasons discussed below. Why did the LOO table this motion? Why was it negated? Why are Land Boards so important that a ruling party felt compelled to deploy its functionaries to the leadership and membership positions?

Prior to the motion, there was a LOO parliamentary question on these appointments. The Speaker threw a spanner in the works by ruling that availing a list of applicants to determine who qualified and who didn’t would violate the rights of those citizens. This has completely obliterated oversight attempts by Parliament on the matter.

How can parliament ascertain the veracity of the claim without the names of applicants? The opposition seeks to challenge this decision in court.  It would also be difficult in the future for Ministers and government officials to obey instructions by investigative Parliamentary Committees to summon evidence which include list of persons. It would be a bad precedent if the decision is not reviewed and set aside by the Business Advisory Committee or a Court of law.

Prior to independence, Dikgosi allocated land for residential and agricultural purposes. At independence, land tenures in Botswana became freehold, state land and tribal land. Before 1968, tribal land, which is land belonging to different tribes, dating back to pre-independence, was allocated and administered by Dikgosi under Customary Law. Dikgosi are currently merely ‘land overseers’, a responsibility that can be delegated. Land overseers assist the Land Boards by confirming the vacancy or availability for occupation of land applied for.

Post-independence, the country was managed through modern law and customary law, a system developed during colonialism. Land was allocated for agricultural purposes such as ploughing and grazing and most importantly for residential use. Over time some land was allocated for commercial purpose. In terms of the law, sinking of boreholes and development of wells was permitted and farmers had some rights over such developed water resources.

Land Boards were established under Section 3 of the Tribal Land Act of 1968 with the intention to improve tribal land administration. Whilst the law was enacted in 1968, Land Boards started operating around 1970 under the Ministry of Local Government and Lands which was renamed Ministry of Lands and Housing (MLH) in 1999. These statutory bodies were a mechanism to also prune the powers of Dikgosi over tribal land. Currently, land issues fall under the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services.

There are 12 Main Land Boards, namely Ngwato, Kgatleng, Tlokweng, Tati, Chobe, Tawana, Malete, Rolong, Ghanzi, Kgalagadi, Kweneng and Ngwaketse Land Boards.  The Tribal Land Act of 1968 as amended in 1994 provides that the Land Boards have the powers to rescind the grant of any rights to use any land, impose restrictions on land usage and facilitate any transfer or change of use of land.

Some land administration powers have been decentralized to sub land boards. The devolved powers include inter alia common law and customary law water rights and land applications, mining, evictions and dispute resolution. However, decisions can be appealed to the land board or to the Minister who is at the apex.

So, land boards are very powerful entities in the country’s local government system. Membership to these institutions is important not only because of monetary benefits of allowances but also the power of these bodies. in terms of the law, candidates for appointment to Land Boards or Subs should be residents of the tribal areas where appointments are sought, be holders of at least Junior Certificate and not actively involved in politics.  The LOO contended that ruling party activists have been appointed in the recent appointments.

He argued that worse, some had no minimum qualifications required by the law and that some are not inhabitants of the tribal or sub tribal areas where they have been appointed. It was also pointed that some people appointed are septuagenarians and that younger qualified Batswana with degrees have been rejected.

Other arguments raised by the opposition in general were that the development was not unusual. That the ruling party is used to politically motivated appointments in parastatals, civil service, diplomatic missions, specially elected councilors and Members of Parliament (MPs), Bogosi and Land Boards. Usually these positions are distributed as patronage to activists in return for their support and loyalty to the political leadership and the party.

The ruling party contended that when the Minister or the Ministry intervened and ultimately appointed the Land Boards Chairpersons, Deputies and members , he didn’t have information, as this was not information required in the application, on who was politically active and for that reason he could not have known who to not appoint on that basis. They also argued that opposition activists have been appointed to positions in the government.

The counter argument was that there was a reason for the legal requirement of exclusion of political activists and that the government ought to have mechanisms to detect those. The whole argument of “‘we didn’t know who was politically active” was frivolous. The fact is that ruling party activists have been appointed. The opposition also argued that erstwhile activists from their ranks have been recruited through positions and that a few who are serving in public offices have either been bought or hold insignificant positions which they qualified for anyway.

Whilst people should not be excluded from public positions because of their political activism, the ruling party cannot hide the fact that they have used public positions to reward activists. Exclusion of political activists may be a violation of fundamental human or constitutional rights. But, the packing of Land Boards with the ruling party activists is clear political corruption. It seeks to sow divisions in communities and administer land in a politically biased manner.

It should be expected that the ruling party officials applying for land or change of land usage etcetera will be greatly assisted. Since land is wealth, the ruling party seeks to secure resources for its members and leaders. The appointments served to reward 2019 election primary and general elections losers and other activists who have shown loyalty to the leadership and the party.

Running a country like this has divided it in a way that may be difficult to undo. The next government may decide to reset the whole system by replacing many of government agencies leadership and management in a way that is political. In fact, it would be compelled to do so to cleanse the system.

The opposition is also pondering on approaching the courts for review of the decision to appoint party functionaries and the general violation of clearly stated terms of reference. If this can be established with evidence, the courts can set aside the decision on the basis that unqualified people have been appointed.

The political activism aspect may also not be difficult to prove as some of these people are known activists who are in party structures, at least at the time of appointment, and some were recently candidates. There is a needed for civil society organizations such as trade unions and political parties to fight some of these decisions through peaceful protests and courts.

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