|Botswana||June 16, 2019|
A. Executive summary
Inlate October 2004, Botswana’s ninth subsequent legislativeelectionsonce again brought the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) back topowerwith a sound parliamentary majority. Its presidential candidate,FestusMogae, was elected president for his second and lastconstitutionalterm. The country remains a sub-Saharan exception inmanytransformation aspects; however, continued progress is threatenedbythe HIV and AIDS pandemic.
This report on the state of transformation in Botswana concludesthatthe country has maintained its high level of transformation.Someshortcomings persist with regard to freedom of the press, andtheexecutive’s occasional arbitrary actions. Particularly noteworthyandcontroversial is relocation of the Basarwa ethnic minority, whichissubject to judicial review. The continued dominance of thegoverningBDP constitutes a key problem for political and socialintegration inBotswana. This dominance is minimally balanced byrelatively weakopposition parties and civic organizations.
Economic transformation in Botswana is ambiguous. Thecountrycontinues to make progress in economic performance and growth,and hasa solid institutional framework for market competition.However,continued efforts to reduce the country’s dependence ondiamonds havefailed. Existing social problems like poverty, inequityandunemployment among the population are intensified by the HIV andAIDSpandemic.
Faced with a moderate level of difficulty for transformation,thegovernment has continued to display an impressive governancerecord,although some limitations remain. The best performance can beobservedin international cooperation, but steering capability andresourceefficiency also show strong results. Consensus-building is acentralfeature of Botswana’s political culture.
A remarkablypeaceful country, Botswana has been spared politicalviolence andextremism since independence in 1966. Non-state politicalextremists aremarginal and they do not resort to violence. Thelikelihood of politicalextremism threatening democracy is low.
Botswana’s future transformation path will depend mainly on thesuccessof the government’s fight against HIV and AIDS as well astheleadership qualities of its most likely future president, IanKhama.Social problems, civil unrest in Zimbabwe and the dependenceondiamonds pose additional challenges. It will be crucial for donorstoassist the country in its already advanced efforts to tackle theHIVand AIDS problem and support its efforts for diversification andthealleviation of social problems.
International efforts should bestrengthened to resolve the crisis inZimbabwe. As for slight domesticpolitical shortcomings, theinternational community can make use of theleadership’s pronounceddesire to maintain its good reputation as an“African success story.”
B. History and characteristics of transformation
InBotswana, political transformation preceded economic transformationbyonly a few years. The first parliamentary elections were held morethana year before independence from Great Britain (September 1965).TheBotswana Democratic Party (BDP) and its leader, Sir SeretseKhama,emerged as the victors. In subsequent years, the BDP hasrepeatedly wonelections with no apparent irregularities. After Khama’sdeath in 1980,Vice President Sir Ketumile Masire took over as head ofthe governmentand of state. The vice presidency was occupied by FestusMogae in 1998.The BDP was kept in power not only by its indisputablepoliticalsuccesses, but also because of its strong support among theruralpopulation and the majority Tswana groups (Khama was a chief ofone ofthese groups). Additionally, the weakness of the oppositionparties,due in part to their weak semi-urban voter base, helps keep theBDP inpower. This base, however, has been growing and opposition votingisincreasing continuously. The tendency toward factionalism andtheBritish style “first past the post” electoral system haspreventedopposition parties from gaining more ground.
Due to the apartheid system in South Africa, there was a longperiod ofadverse regional conditions in Botswana. Botswana’scircumspectpolicies steered clear of both collaboration andconfrontation with itsmore powerful neighbor and saved it from beingdestabilized by theSouth African apartheid regime, like other countriessuch as Angola andMozambique.
Discovered in the mid-1960s, extensive diamond deposits began tobeextracted more intensively in the early 1970s. This new interestindiamond production triggered unparalleled dynamic growthandtransformed Botswana from one of the 10 poorest countries of theworldinto a middle-income state. Its GDP grew an average of 12%annually inreal terms from 1977 to 1987. In the last decade of the 20thcentury,the per capita GDP was still increasing on average of more than5%annually in real terms.
In contrast to several other African countries, the criticalfactor inBotswana was the prudent handling of the country’s naturalwealth. Thegovernment showed great acumen in its negotiations withtransnationalcorporations. An almost over-cautious budget policyregularly led tobudget surpluses. The infrastructure and educationalfacilities havebeen systematically expanded. Despite a fundamentalmarket orientationand numerous efforts in the direction ofprivatization anddiversification, Botswana remains largely dependent onits diamonddeposits, which are mined through a joint venture betweenthe De Beersmultinational group and the state enterprise Debswana.
Inrecent years, diamond production has been overshadowed by acampaignlaunched by an international advocacy group accusing thegovernment ofmistreating Basarwa (Bushmen) in the Kalahari Desert inorder to minediamonds. However, the government has denied theseallegations, yet theissue remains controversial. The government hasengaged constructivelyin international efforts to curb the trade withso-called “blood”diamonds.
Apart from the mining sector, the other core economic sectorsarecattle ranching and high budget tourism, especially in theOkavangoDelta. The country’s market economy conditions are exemplary,at leastwhen compared with the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, and continuetoimprove.
Despite considerable social progress, deficienciesremain, thoughmoderate. Among these concerns are growing socialinequality andworrisome unemployment figures, especially among youth.In recentyears, concerns have increased over developments inneighboringZimbabwe. Instability could result from an inflow ofrefugees fromZimbabwe, which would adversely affect tourism.
The greatest and most formidable challenge is the rampantHIV/AIDSpandemic that has devastated this country since the early1990s.Statistics indicate that approximately 38% of all sexuallyactiveBatswana are HIV positive, which places Botswana as one ofthehardest-hit countries in the world. The decline in theHumandevelopment Index (HDI) is entirely a result of this problem.Aparticularly worrisome effect is that the economicallyactivepopulation is the demographic group most severely affected bytheAIDS/HIV pandemic. The government has instituted many initiativestofight the epidemic. The success or failure of these initiatives willbecritical for future economic transformation.
Thecountry has maintained its high original level of transformation.Thereare minor deficiencies with regard to the freedom of the press,andoccasional arbitrariness of actions by the executive, in particularthecontroversial issue of the relocation of the ethnic minority ofBasarwa,but these are subject to judicial review. One remainingprimary problemfor the country’s political and social integration isthe ongoingdominance of the governing BDP, which is only inadequatelybalanced bythe relatively weak opposition parties and civil-societyorganizations.
Thereis evidently no problem with stateness in Botswana. The state hasanunrestricted monopoly on the use of force. Defining citizenshipbecomesa politically relevant issue only when the representation ofthe secondchamber of parliament, the House of Chiefs, is discussed. Itincludesonly one of the eight Tswana groups; however, this does notmean thatfundamental citizenship rights are denied. The governmentinitiated areform to remedy this problem, and a referendum is pending.There is tosome extent societal discrimination against minorities, butthisphenomenon appears to be more a problem of the rule of law. Thereis aseparation of church and state, and the political process issecular.Largely, there is a highly functional administrative system,and publicsafety and order are assured, especially in contrast toother Africancountries. There are limitations to progress due tobureaucraticsluggishness.
1.2. Political participation
Batswanaenjoy universal suffrage and the right to campaign for office.Electionsare conducted properly. In the 2004 elections, the principlesof anopen, competitive election process were observed. The onlyshortcomingin this respect stems from an uneven playing field duringelectioncampaigns. The BDP enjoys the advantages of being theincumbent, and theopposition parties continue to denounce the lack ofpublic funding andequal access to the state-controlled media.Increasing voter apathy hasresulted in comparatively low voterturnouts in recent years.
The government has the effective power to govern. There arenopolitical actors with veto powers. The military does not formapolitical enclave or a veto power, although high-rankingpoliticianssuch as the current foreign minister and the vice president(and anumber of cabinet ministers since the last reshuffle) emergedfrom theranks of the Botswana Defense Force (BDF).
Independentpolitical and/or civic organizations can form freely. Theexpansion ofunions, however, is hampered by legislation that createssignificantobstacles to legal strikes.
Freedom of opinion is generally guaranteed. There is a cultureof openand lively discussion. However, critics of the governmentreceivelittle access to the largely government-controlled media. Therearealso limited and sporadic government interventions againsttheindependent and outspoken print media. In 2003, journalistsprotestedagainst a draft bill that would support a press council thatcouldimpose fines and jail terms against a government violating a codeofconduct. However, this bill did not transform into legislation Asaresult, freedom of the press receives a “free” rating by FreedomHouse,but ranks only 71st and is considered “partly free”.
In late February 2005, Kenneth Good, a professor at theUniversity ofBotswana and an Australian national who has been criticalof thegovernment for years, was declared an unwanted immigrant andordered toleave the country within forty-eight hours. It remainsunclear whetherthe deportation order by President Mogae is connected toGood’scriticism of the government in a recently published paper.However, acourt ruling allowed Good to stay in Botswana while heappeals thedeportation order.
1.3. Rule of law
UnderBotswana’s parliamentary system of government, the president iselectedby parliament. Yet constitutional and political power inBotswana ishighly centralized in the body of the executive branch andthepresident. This status, combined with the dominance of the BDP,meansthat the executive proceeds arbitrarily on occasion, butstatelegislation and executive actions are subject to effectivejudicialcontrol.
The judiciary is separate and independent and is a crucial bodyforchecks in a parliamentary system. On the other hand, its functionisunder review at present. The government submits to defeats inthecourts, and responds by changing its course. There areslightlimitations due to overloads and delays, but this mostly takesplace inrural areas.
The fight against corruption has an institutional base inanindependent body, the Directorate on Corruption and EconomicCrime(DCEC). Abuse of office by elected officials (and administrationandpolice) is relatively rare (though not entirely absent), and issubjectto both legal and political sanctions. Currently, no laws existtoprotect whistleblowers. In the past, senior officials(ministers,undersecretaries) have had to resign because of theirinvolvement inscandals and irregular activities. But after sitting outa“respectability period” of several years they can return tooffice.Recent independent investigations into alleged abuse byministers(“land issue”) did not find evidence of corruption.
In theory, all citizens enjoy equal civil rights. In practice,however,there is an open level of discrimination against the Basarwaminority(also called San or Bushmen), whose traditional mode of livingin theCentral Kalahari is officially criticized. The government has notyetforcibly relocated the Basarwa in order to integrate them intomodernstructures, but it has cut off services such as water and healthcareand it provides housing and financial rewards for voluntaryrelocation.The international campaign of Survival International (SI),which claimsto see economic interests—the exploitation of diamonddepositsthere—behind this policy is rejected even by the highlycriticalBotswana human rights organization Ditshwanelo. However,Ditshwanelocriticizes the de facto forcible relocation of the Basarwaand with itshelp; Basarwa activists are seeking a ruling by the HighCourt. Theformer residents are claiming that the termination ofservices by thegovernment on January 31, 2002 was unlawful andunconstitutional. Humanrights groups also criticize the use of capitalpunishment. Ofparticular concern is the practice of carrying out thedeath penaltywithout consulting relatives beforehand.
1.4. Stability of democratic institutions
Democraticinstitutions are largely effective and efficient. Because oftheabsolute majority of the BDP, there are no obstacles todecision-makingin the parliamentary system. Slight tensions arise froma dualfactionalism within the BDP, and, in addition, from constraintsonjudicial and administrative efficiency.
Democratic institutions are accepted and supported by allrelevantpolitical actors. The opposition has been critical of parts oftheelectoral regime such as the electoral system and the compositionofthe Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), but this does not meantherejection of free and fair elections as such. However,speculativedoubts have emerged in recent years about the democraticintegrity ofVice President Ian Khama, son of the country’s foundingpresident andmost likely Botswana’s future president. Khama has gainedinfluence inthe party and the faction opposing him has been weakened inthe periodunder review. This weakening was due in part to a majorcabinetreshuffle following the elections in October 2004 where elevenout offourteen ministers were replaced.
1.5. Political and social integration
Botswana’sparty system displays the shortcomings and advantages of adominantparty system. Due to the long-standing dominance of the BDPthe partysystem is relatively stable, but the continued weakness oftheopposition is reason for some concern. Opposition parties, inparticularthe Botswana National Front (BNF), have altogether won morethan 40% ofthe vote in the last two elections in 1999 and 2004, butare weakened bytheir propensity to factionalism. An electoral pact ofoppositionparties was launched in September 2003 that excluded theoffshoots ofthe BNF, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and theNational DemocraticFront (NDF). Due to vote splitting, oppositionparties gained only 22%of the constituencies in thefirst-past-the-post electoral system. Thereis relatively lowvolatility given the parties’ relatively strong rootsin the society(BDP: rural; the opposition: urban) but, although the BDPenjoys adistinct advantage, organizational resources are generallyshallow andprogrammatic differences are widely absent. Polarization isnot ageneral feature of the party system, notwithstanding a certainrise inthe recent election campaign (major opposition parties boycottedtheall-party conference that appointed the members of theIndependentElectoral Commission). Severe intransigence is found withinparties,notably in primaries and especially between the oppositionparties asthe aforementioned splits exemplify.
Given the decades of democratic development in Botswana, thetopographyof functional interest groups is relatively underdeveloped.Bycontrast, there is a relatively high density ofnongovernmentalorganizations (around 24 per 100,000 inhabitants). Ruralinterests areunderrepresented but women do have a vocal interest group(“EmangBasadi”). The unions in particular do not play a significantrole,because of legislative obstacles.
According to surveys by the Afrobarometer in 1999 and theInstitute ofAfrican Affairs, Hamburg in 2003 more than 75% of allBatswana preferdemocracy to any other kind of government. Likewise,democraticinstitutions such as parliament, the courts of law and thepresidenthave the trust of approx. 80%.
There is no robust andclosely-knit web of autonomous-self-organizedgroups, but there is afairly high level of trust among the population.The activity andefficacy of self-help groups meets its limitations ina culture ofapathy, especially in rural areas. On the other hand,there is a generalculture of “sit down and talk.” Traditional “Kgotla”meetings are heldregularly throughout the country and a sense ofpeaceful discussion isfairly well developed.
2. Market economy
Thetransformation of the economic regime in Botswana is ambiguous.Comparedto other sub-Saharan countries, Botswana has a fairly highlevel ofeconomic development, and the country continues to makeprogress ineconomic performance, growth, and the institutionalframework for marketcompetition. Ongoing efforts have beenunsuccessful in reducingdependence on diamonds. Existing socialproblems among the populationare intensified by the HIV and AIDSpandemic.
2.1. Level of socioeconomic development
Socialexclusion is quantitatively and qualitatively significant and tosomeextent structurally ingrained. The key indicators show a moderatelevelof development. The country’s level of development does notpermitadequate freedom of choice for all citizens if measured bytheseindicators.
Moderate-to-substantial social exclusion resultsprimarily from povertythat, albeit reduced, affects one fourth of thepopulation (In 2002,23.4% of the population earned less than $1 perday). There is a highlevel of social inequality, and according to theGini coefficient (for1993: 63), Botswana is one of the most unequalsocieties in the world.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic has lowered life expectancy that, in spiteofrobust GDP and education scores, has resulted in a relatively lowHDIrank (128th of 177 countries in 2002).
Women earn on average only 51% of what their male counterpartsearn.The country ranks 102nd on the Gender-related Development Index(GDI),yet 35% of decision-making positions are filled with women.
2.2. Organization of the market and competition
Marketcompetition has a strong institutional framework. According to asurveyconducted in 2003 by the World Economic Forum (WEF) Botswana hasthemost favorable framework for growth in sub-Saharan Africa. In termsofmacroeconomic environment and public institutions, Botswana ranks36thon the WEF’s Growth Competitiveness Index (GCI) worldwide. On theIndexof Economic Freedom Botswana has been consistently rated “mostlyfree”.
Shortcomingsare observed primarily in the high fiscal burden ofgovernment andgovernment intervention in the economy, which isresponsible for defacto limitations in the formation of monopolies.Diamonds are exploitedand sold exclusively by the Debswana who forms asemi-state jointventure between the state and South Africa’s De Beers.Yet, in othermining sectors (gold, copper, nickel), manufacturing andtourismmonopolies or oligopolies have been avoided.
Foreign trade has been extensively liberalized. The Batswanaeconomyhas high import and export ratios. Membership in the SouthernAfricanDevelopment Community (SADC) and the associated customs unionhas notled to elevated protectionism. According to the Index ofEconomicFreedom, there are few if any non-tariff barriers.
A sound basis for a banking system and capital market exists.Despitesome problems in providing sound money for business, as the WEFstudyhas revealed, Botswana has received awards frominternationalorganizations over the past few years for its creditstatus and themanagement of its independent central bank.
2.3. Currency and price stability
Inflationand foreign exchange policies have been brought into linewith othereconomic policy goals, and are institutionalized in alargelyindependent central bank, the Bank of Botswana. As the localcurrency(pula) is tied to the South African rand, fiscal and monetarypoliciesdo not diverge from those of South Africa. However, unlike theresultsof 2004, the central bank had failed to meet its inflationtarget (4-7%)in 2003.
The government’s fiscal and debt policies are exemplary,especially inlight of the risks of natural resource dependence (e.g.Dutch disease).Favorable debt service ratios of 1.9% and 1.6% andbalanced budgets inthe fiscal years 2003 to 2004 mirror extraordinarilyprudent fiscalpolicies. However, a balanced budget depends ondevelopments in thediamond sector and surpluses in previous years owepartly to thegovernment’s incapacity to carry out spending programs asscheduled.
2.4. Private property
Propertyrights and ownership are adequately defined and effective.There areslight disadvantages due to an occasional sluggish permitprocess forforeign investment, as well as other administrativeshortcomings and anoverburdened, albeit independent, judiciary.
Private business activity and investments, including foreignisconsidered desirable and is encouraged with certainprivileges.However, privatization efforts have not yet resulted insustainablesuccess in 2003 and 2004 and companies do not form thebackbone of theeconomy. Privatization is not even planned in thediamond sector. Inview of the successful management of the diamondbusiness to date, thisdecision can hardly be considered a mistake.
2.5. Welfare regime
Socialnetworks are well developed, but do not cover all risks for theentirepopulation. There is still a serious risk of poverty forsubstantialsegments of the population. Socially vulnerable groupsreceive socialwelfare but to a limited extent. Numerous initiativeshave beenimplemented to grapple with the AIDS epidemic and have woninternationalrecognition. Generally, the health sector iswell-developed and there isuniversal health care.
There is equal opportunity but with somerestrictions. Society ishighly heterogeneous in social terms, but thereare a number ofinstitutions that compensate for gross socialdiscrepancies, especiallyin the well-developed education sector. Womenin particular havesignificant access to higher education and publicoffice.
2.6. Economic performance
Theeconomy’s traditionally high growth rates continued during theperiodunder review. Per capita GDP grew relatively fast, and went handin handwith strong macroeconomic figures. Botswana’s debt, balance oftrade andbudgetary policy constitute the most notable figures. Pricestabilityshowed slight deficiencies, but remains within controllablelimits.According to the Afrobarometer, unemployment rates (around19.6%),particularly among the youth, are a serious concern. As foreconomicpotential, one should bear in mind both the dependency ondiamondrevenues, which remain the engine for growth, as well as thelargelyunsuccessful efforts to diversify and the effects of the HIVand AIDSepidemic.
Ina sparsely populated Botswana, there are few environmental problemsanda low level of awareness on environmental issues. Economic activityinthe country apparently does not produce ecologicalproblems.Nevertheless, the country is making efforts to preserveregions ofinterest for tourism (especially the Okavango River delta),thoughthese endeavors are subordinate to economic interests.
Thanks to systematic support from the government, Botswana hasanexcellent infrastructure. Botswana has been able to ensurefreeschooling nationwide for the entire population. The UniversityofBotswana offers a diversified range of programs, and between 1999and2001, the government spent 25.6% of all expenditure on education(2.1%of the GDP).
Despite these efforts, the absolute level remainsunsatisfactory. Onthe technology sub-index of WEF’s GrowthCompetitiveness Index (GCI),Botswana scored (CGI: 36th; TechnologyIndex: 59th). The WEF considersthe lack of an adequately educated laborforce a major obstacle fordoing business in the country.
Facedwith a moderate level of difficulty for transformation thegovernmenthas continued to demonstrate a fairly impressive governancerecord,although some limitations remain. The best performance is seenininternational cooperation but steering capability andresourceefficiency are only slightly behind. Consensus building is acentralfeature of the political culture.
3.1. Level of difficulty
Thelevel of difficulty for transformation in Botswana is moderate.Ethnicand social conflict does not pose a serious threat topossibilities forimprovement. Traditions of civil society aremoderate.
The structural constraints on governance are moderate to high.Botswanahas a fairly well developed physical infrastructure andrelatively higheducational standards. However, these standards havefailed to producea satisfactorily educated labor force. Absolutepoverty andparticularly inequality remain at worrisome levels (23.4% ofthepopulation lives below poverty line, high Gini-coefficient).Thepotential negative impact of dependence on raw materials (diamonds)hasnot materialized in the period of review and only sporadically intheyears before 2003, when demand for diamonds receded. In fact,theresulting revenues continued to serve as a growth engine in 2003and2004. Frequent droughts in an arid climate and outbreaks ofanimaldiseases are responsible for a limited potential inagriculturalproduction. The most formidable constraint on governance isthe highHIV-infection rates (in 2003 37.3% of the population between 15and49). AIDS and HIV alone is responsible for the regression ofsomeaspects of development, and it is an especially difficult problemtofight.
Although civil society in Botswana is relatively weak in termsof thenumber of active NGOs and a culture of passivity and apathy inruralareas, other aspects such as high trust in institutions andsocialtrust in general account for a more encouraging picture. Inparticular,the culture of “sit down and talk” is ingrained in theTswana culture,which allows and encourages participation and opendiscussion, and is acultural resource from which the government candraw.
There are no severe, irreconcilable ethnic or other conflicts, although the potential for such conflicts does exist.
3.2. Steering capability
Generally,the political leadership is committed to democracy under therule of lawand a socially responsible market economy. Governmentpoliciesprioritize the goals of economic and democratic transformationovershort-term expediency. The goals of economic and socialtransformationare laid down in well-formulated and well-focusednational developmentplans. The most recent plan, the NationalDevelopment Plan 9 (NDP 9),aims at economic diversification,employment creation, maintainingmacroeconomic stability, and curbingHIV and AIDS infection rates.Criticism focuses on overoptimistic goalsowing to limitedadministrative capacities, and as the oppositionargues, on anunsatisfactory amount of expenditure on direct povertyreduction. In thepolitical arena commitment to transformation goalsmight be limited tosome extent given the government’s somewhat mixedrecord on pressfreedom and the treatment of ethnic minorities. Theopposition has beenhighly critical of minor electoral issues such asthe electoral system,which favors the BDP, and the alleged limitedindependence of theelectoral commission.
Although largely committed to both economic andpoliticaltransformation goals, the Mogae government has had onlylimited successin implementing its announced reforms. There has beenconsiderablesuccess in maintaining macroeconomic stability such as highgrowthrates, yet other economic reform goals, such as advancingprivatizationand diversification of the economy have been sluggish. Thecountry’sdependence on diamonds remains widely unchanged. Plans toprivatize thestate-owned air company, Air Botswana were stalled inJanuary 2004.With regard to the HIV/AIDS problem, Botswana has won therecognitionfrom the international community for its exemplaryanti-retroviralprogram, but the implementation has been slow to someextent and, giventhe nature of the problem, effects have been limited.
Genderempowerment measures have been more successful. The number offemalelegislators dropped from the 17.0% in 1999 to 12% in 2004, andseveralfemale candidates did not win their constituencies (however,three outof four specially elected members of parliament are women).Accordingthe HDR 2004, 35% of all legislators, senior officials andmangers arewomen. Efforts to reform the second chamber of parliamentcame underfire from traditionalists and reformists. The government,keen tobalance different interests and groups, reacted with a lengthyreviewthat resulted in a compromise that could not win the fullapproval ofboth sides.
However, at the same time this demonstrates a fair amount oflearningability. Generally, the political leadership demonstrates itsabilityof complex learning, acts flexibly and can replace failedwithinnovative policies. Constraints might partly derive fromanexaggerated feeling of consensus. The government regularlyusestraditional “Kgotla” meetings to design or redesign its policies asitdid with the reform plans for the House of Chief. It isgenerallyresponsive to judicial review of state legislation althoughnorespective major incident occurred in the period of review. Theproblemof voter apathy was taken up by an academic study and therewereincreased efforts to promote voter registration. Although theIECfailed to meet its target (68% of all eligible voters), there wasanincrease of 20% in voter registration in the 2004 elections.Thegovernment amended its originally hesitant reaction to the HIV andAIDSproblem and has since engaged in relatively well-focused campaign.
3.3. Resource efficiency
Althoughsubject to some constraints, the government makes extensiveandefficient use of its available resources. Corruption is a minorproblemat the top leadership level. Personnel expenses relative tostateservices are relatively low. The cabinet compromisesfourteenministries. Low favoritism in decisions by government officialsisconsidered a notable competitive advantage by the WEF. Thesweepingcabinet reshuffle after the 2004 elections was designed tosideline thefaction in the BDP, formed by former party chairmanPonatshegoKedikilwe, but cannot be interpreted as a setback. The formercabinethad been criticized for its low competence profile, and theappointmentof leading ministers, whose competence was uncontested, wasmaintained.There is a highly favorable record in terms of a low debtburden andlargely balanced state budgets. The budgets have to berevisedregularly due to expenditure planning that tends to showunrealisticresults. This is partly due to the lack of capacity toimplement theprojected expenditure. The civil service displays someshortcomings andtax administration (though comparatively high becauseof the diamondsector) does not match the high standard in otherrespects. There islimited financial and legal autonomy of localself-government, andlocal elections were held together with nationalelections in October2004.
The government coordinates its policies relatively effectivelyand actsin a coherent manner. The national development plans form arelativelywell-focused and coherent framework for the implementation ofconcretepolicies. However, some constraints remain. Prudent fiscalpolicies arehard to reconcile with immediate poverty alleviation(subsidies, socialwelfare, and job creation by the state, to a lesserextent AIDS relatedexpenditure), and the government has clearlyprioritized macroeconomicstability over social concerns in hopes thatinfrastructure measuressuch as education and training will helpaccomplish substantialprogress in the long-run. As a result, poverty,inequity andunemployment remain widespread phenomena given the moderatelevel ofsocioeconomic development. Balancing different interests hasbeen amajor concern of the government and negatively affectedpolicycoherence, as illustrated by the planned reform of the House ofChiefs.
The government seeks to provide all integrity mechanisms.Thegovernment supports all integrity mechanisms. The fightagainstcorruption has an institutional base in an independent body,theDirectorate on Corruption and Economic Crime. However, thesemechanismshave not been working to full satisfaction on occasion. Thereareunknown sources of funding given to the ruling party, probablyfromwell-wishers within the economic community, and this remains anongoingpoint of criticism by the opposition parties. llegationsofirregularities in the allocation of state land in GaboronepromptedPresident Mogae to set up of an independent inquiry commissioninmid-2004 headed by the High Court Judge, Isaac Lesetedi. In July2004,the Lesetedi commission reported lax procedures, a lack ofcompetenceamong government officials, less than arms-lengthrelationships withinvestors, and regular interference in the process ofland allocationon the part of ministers.
However, against widespreadanticipation, the report revealed detailedevidence of corruption; thecommission could not find hard evidenceexcept in one instance (over theallocation of land for development ofa private school). Due toanti-corruption policies, and in contrast toother sub-Saharancountries, corruption is not a serious problem inBotswana. This isdocumented by high ratings in the CorruptionPerception Index (2004:rank 312th of 145; 6.0 out of maximum score of10), where Botswana leadsthe African states (and places better thanItaly). The World Bank ratesthe “control of corruption” positivelywith a value of +0.76 on a scalebetween –2.50 and +2.50.
Although certain limitations persist, consensus is a distinct feature of political culture in Botswana.
All major political and social actors agree on the goal ofreform interms of democracy under the rule of law and economicprosperity.However, their ideas about how to achieve these goalsvaryconsiderably. The largest opposition party, the BNF, advocatedeconomicsocialism and opposed the liberal market orientation of theBDP, but ithas apparently abandoned its socialist ideas, although someMarxistideology still has some appeal.
There are no political actorswith anti-democratic veto powers. Theremight be some potential forextremist anti-democratic views given thecountry’s social problems, butthey are not likely to pose asignificant challenge in the near future.
As described above, the potential for more serious social andethnicpolarization exists, but a traditional culture of consensusandpeaceful conflict resolution combined with apathy among theruralpopulation, has helped to prevent cleavages from escalatingintoconflict. However, all governments since independence, includingtheMogae administration, have contributed to this development. Withregardto the potential of ethnic conflict, top political officials haveshownno tolerance for exploiting ethnic prejudice in electioncampaigns.Such incidents of “tribalism” occurred in the primaries ofthe BDP inlate 2003 and president Mogae and other leading politicianshave calledthose involved to order. On a regular basis, the governmentuses the“Kgotla” meetings for nation-wide consultation and discussionofnational policies. During the period under review, this measurewasemployed in the sensitive delimitation process (redrawing ofelectoraldistricts due to the population growth) and with the plannedreform ofthe House of Chiefs.
As shown by these examples, thepolitical leadership promotes socialcapital among the population. Yetthe government only partly succeedsin strengthening inter-personalsolidarity and civic engagement. Aculture of passivity and apathy amongthe rural population hinders theemergence of a vibrant civil society.
The government has contributed to this apathy, to some extent,due toits benign but paternalistic and elitist approach toward society.Thepolitical leadership takes into account and accommodates theinterestsof civil society, but the inclusion of civicorganizations,particularly interest groups such as trade unions orintellectuals, isclearly limited.
Botswana has maintained a fairly stable human rights record since 1966. Hence, there are no noteworthy past injustices.
3.5. International cooperation
Thecountry’s political actors are highly willing to cooperate withoutsidesupport and organizations. Botswana uses the assistance oftheseorganizations in achieving its transformation goals, particularlythoseconcerning social and economic issues. The country is widelyconsidereda credible and reliable partner and it cooperatesextensively withneighbors. Slight limitations in this regard stem froma dispute with aninternational advocacy group and growing tension withZimbabwe.
For the most part, domestic actors clearly demonstrate astrongwillingness to work with international supporters and actors.Politicalactors apply international aid with a solid focus on the needsofeconomic transformation. Due to good progress, aid has been cutbackconsiderably since the early 1990s and Botswana has neverfacedstructural adjustment programs imposed by the IMF.
The high level of cooperation can be illustrated by anti-AIDSpolicies.The national AIDS coordinating agency is chaired by presidentMogae,who is personally admired for his high-profile leadership ofthecampaign against the epidemic. With the support ofdonors,philanthropists and international pharmaceutical companies,severalprograms have been established. Botswana has been selected asabeneficiary of U.S. funds to tackle AIDS in 2003. The BotswanaHarvardAIDS Institute Partnership laboratory is the largest of its kindinAfrica and introduced clinical trials of a potential AIDS vaccineinJune 2003. The program distributing anti-retroviral drugs, launchedin2002 and the first of its kind in Southern Africa is funded bythepharmaceutical company Merck as well as the Bill and MelindaGatesFoundation.
In political terms, international cooperation is lessimpressive,partly given Botswana’s relatively advanced democraticstatus and theresulting lack of political conditionality.
However, a bitter dispute with the international advocacygroupSurvival International (SI) and the Mogae governmentcontinuedthroughout the period under review. SI claims that thegovernmentremoved the Basarwa in order to mine diamonds in theBasarwa’ssettlement area, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. SIportrayedBotswana’s diamonds as “diamonds of despair” and “conflictdiamonds.”The government has reacted with resentment given that thereis noavailable evidence that such plans existed. (In any case, therehasbeen no mining inside the CKGR and as of now Botswana’s diamondsareclearly not “conflict diamonds”). SI’s allegations might wellbefabricated, or at least exaggerated, in order to raise attentionforthe case of the Basarwa and itself as an organization. Asmentionedabove, local human rights activists reject SI’s strategy onthe groundthat the “abrasive” style of the campaign wascounterproductive,although they are critical of the relocation policies(rather than itsalleged reason).
The government is keen on retaining its solid internationalreputationand given its dependence on diamonds, the harsh verbalreactions becomemore understandable. Botswana has actively engaged inthe KimberleyProcess Certification Scheme (KPCS), which is designed tocurb theillicit trade with blood diamonds, and has maintained itsspecialcampaign of Botswana’s “diamonds for development.”
Botswana enjoys good international relations, especially withtheUnited States. U.S. President George W. Bush completed a state visittoBotswana in July 2003. The international community considersthegovernment credible and reliable.
The political leadership actively and successfully builds andexpandsas many cooperative, regional and international relationshipsaspossible. It promotes regional integration through a numberoforganizations. For example, the headquarters of the SADC—inwhichBotswana is one of the driving forces—is located in Botswana’scapital,Gaborone, where numerous international conferences also takeplace. TheBotswanan trade minister, Jacob Nkate, led the delegation ofdevelopingcountries during the WTO negotiations in fall of 2003.
Moreover, Botswana enjoys good relations with most of itsneighbors. Aterritorial dispute with Namibia was resolved by appealingto theInternational Court of Justice in The Hague. However, certaintensionswith neighboring Zimbabwe have intensified. Although Botswanainprinciple supports land reform in Zimbabwe, it hasrefrainedrhetorically from openly criticizing the crisis in Zimbabwe.Botswanaconsiders the crisis a destabilizing factor that spoilsSouthern Africaas a tourist destination and creates an inflow ofillegal immigrants.Zimbabwe has denounced the occasionally harshtreatment of Zimbabweansby the authorities in Botswana. Following hisacquittal on a charge oftreason in October 2004, the leader of theprincipal opposition partyin Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai, met withforeign secretary Merafhe inGaborone. This meeting is a clearindication of Botswana’s highlycritical view of the politicalleadership in Harare.
4. Trend of development
Thepolitical regime meets the minimum requirements for a democracyunderthe rule of law; however, there has been no substantial gaininpolitical transformation goals between 2001 and 2004. Thegoodgovernance record has maintained already existing transformationgainsbut efforts for substantial improvements have failed, particularlywithregard to the rule of law and political and social integration.
The socioeconomic development is more difficult to assessbecause highgrowth rates and a slightly better institutional frameworkaccount formodest to robust progress but are largely countered by theimpact ofHIV/AIDS. Other problematic areas such as the lack ofdiversificationremain unchanged. On balance, there has been slighteconomic progress.
4.1. Democratic development
Stateness,participation and the rule of law are stable. Statecoherence is welldeveloped and elections are free and (mostly) fair.The judiciary islargely independent; however, freedom of the press andthe treatment ofethnic minorities are a concern.
The level of consolidation ofdemocracy has not changed significantly.Although the high level ofinstitutional stability has been upheld, thedominant party systemcontinues to account for some shortcomings withregard to politicalintegration. A certain lack of a vibrant civilsociety in terms of thetopography of interest groups and civicassociations is compensated byhigh popular support for democracy andconsiderable levels of trust.
4.2. Market economy development
TheHDI has declined drastically between 1995 (0.666) and 2000 (0.620)andhas fallen further in 2002 (0.589). However, these valuesareconsiderably misleading since losses owe exclusively to thedrasticallyreduced life expectancy in connection with HIV/AIDS.(GDP-Index: 0.76;Education-Index is 0.73; Life expectancy Index is0.27) The latest GDPper capita is identical with the highest ever andthere have been gainsin educational indicators. Moreover, thegovernment disputes the UNDPestimation that life expectancy has fallento approx. 40 years.According to a national census of 2001, lifeexpectancy is at 57 years.Taking into account these considerations, itseems acceptable to ratethe socioeconomic development “unchanged.”
The institutional framework has continued to improve slightly.On theIndex of Economic Freedom Botswana’s value fell from 2.95 in 2001to2.44 in 2005 (a lower value indicates more economic freedom, 1beingthe best and 5 being the worst rating) but remained in the“mostlyfree” category. Progress has been made in trade policy. On theotherhand, due to the dominant diamond sector, the high levelofintervention in the economy remains unchanged.
Continueddependence on the diamond industry prevents Botswana frommakingsubstantial qualitative leaps in economic development, althougheconomygrew per annum by 4.3% on average, fluctuating between 2.2%(2000) and8.5% (2001). Notwithstanding the fact that diamonds havecontinued towork as a growth engine for the economy, sluggishprivatization andlargely unsuccessful efforts to diversify the economydo not alonejustify an assessment of qualitative leaps in economicdevelopment.
Table: Development of macroeconomic fundamentals (2000-2004)
Sources: EIU Country Report Botswana January 2005; EIU Country Profile Botswana 2005; IMF Statistical Annex Botswana 200X; a actual; b EIU estimates, c National accounts years July-June, starting from 1999/2000 for 2000; d refers to 2001 “unemployment” rate defined as number of people looking for work expressed as a percentage of the total work force (Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Profile Botswana 2004).
D. Strategic perspective
Botswana will likely maintain its relatively high level of democratic transformation and will continue to enjoy success in the economic arena. At the same time, some weaknesses in political and especially social transformation will remain unchanged.
However, there is a high amount of uncertainty with regard to future developments. Botswana’s future in terms of political and socioeconomic transformation will depend mainly on three major and two minor aspects.
Firstly, the economic consequences of the HIV and AIDS epidemic and the effectiveness of government measures will prove crucial.
Secondly, Botswana’s political future will depend primarily on its leadership quality, which is cause for some concern. Leadership has been the major source of the country’s success story despite the absence of institutionalized social and political integration. This quality cannot be taken for granted; it remains unclear whether Ian Khama, the most likely future president of the country, will display the capabilities and integrity of his father, Botswana’s first president. Speculation about Khama’s authoritarian and confrontational tendencies persists as his personal conduct will profoundly shape the country’s overall development.
Thirdly, the still worrisome levels of inequity, poverty and unemployment pose a major challenge. It seems unlikely that this will translate into deep-rooted social conflict given the culture of peace and apathy. However, the potential exists and social shortcomings serve to hinder transformation capability.
Other threats for Botswana’s future include developments in neighboring Zimbabwe as well as Botswana’s dependence on diamonds, although these challenges are of lesser importance. Diamond dependence poses obstacles to sound economic transformation given the possible price volatility and the fact that Botswana’s large gem deposits will not last forever.
Civil unrest in Zimbabwe may hamper Botswana’s good reputation as a destination for high budget tourism and, more importantly, will put some demographic pressure on the country given the already high and possibly growing number of refugees from Zimbabwe. Given some xenophobic tendencies in Botswana, the government might be tempted to implement a tough policy toward Zimbabweans. Already in effect to some degree, such a policy poses the risk of marring the country’s respectable record on the rule of law.
It will be of central importance to assist the country in its already advanced efforts to tackle the HIV and AIDS problem. Foreign assistance should be maintained and increased. Unfortunately, success cannot be guaranteed since substantial achievements may depend on technological medical innovation such as an effective vaccine.
Likewise, foreign donors should assist the country in its efforts to achieve progress in the social order and to dilute natural resource dependence. The government aims to overcome these problems indirectly by stressing related factors such as education rather than directly addressing poverty and inequality. There is a concern that generous distribution policies bear the risk of damaging macroeconomic stability.
There is most likely no direct way to influence the quality of leadership; however, the international community can make use of the leadership’s evident desire to maintain its reputation as both a political and economic “African success story.”
This might also prove effective in combating deficiencies in the respect for freedom of expression, the treatment of ethnic minorities and refugees from Zimbabwe. Moreover, the international community, including the United States, Great Britain, and SADC countries, most notably South Africa, must find a way to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe before problems spread to neighboring countries.
|©2004 Bertelsmann Stiftung||