064_G19_InFocus_Botawana

Global

In Focus Botswana gemstone diamond industry ever since. Botswana is a deeply conservative country. The very harsh environmental conditions under which most people lived prior to the discovery of diamonds has inculcated caution in the very genes of the people. The same word is used to describe rain, water and money – pula. There is no tolerance for waste or profl igacy. The group is everything and individuals must blend in or be ostracised. Discussions and debates are designed to produce consensus, not confrontation. One of Botswana’s strongest institutions is the Kgotla, which stands for the full spectrum of discussion and consensus forming. It is present at the basic village level, the powerful chieftaincy level and right up to parliament. The objective is to give all involved parties the right to express their views. The chiefs, it is said, should not utter a word until all have spoken. While this system produces homogeneity and stability, it rubs against modern democratic practice and can be ossifying. It can also perpetuate power within certain groups. One of the major criticisms of the current system is that power resides within the Setswana-speaking peoples. These comprise eight tribes who speak mutually intelligible dialects and share similar cultures and histories. These eight tribes, which form around 20 per cent of the population, were ‘recognised’ by the British colonial government who ruled indirectly through them, conferring privileges, especially over land ownership. There have been attempts to give similar recognition to the other tribes but progress has been slow. The DBP has won every election held so far and dominated the 57-seat national assembly. There is a second, 35 member, chamber, the Ntio ya Dikgosi (House of Chiefs) which is an advisory body, counselling especially on matters relating to customary law, property rights and customary courts. The President is not directly elected but nominated by the winning party. Since 1965 Botswana has been the continent’s longest continuous multi-party democracy. According to Transparency International, it is relatively free of corruption. Elections, which have been held regularly and on schedule every fi ve years, have been generally declared free and fair by outside observers, although there have been periodic cries of foul play from opposition groups. At the time of going to press, there were nine political parties, of which the Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana Congress Party are the strongest. But chronic infi ghting among the opposition parties has left them unable to mount a serious challenge to the BDP. However, matters took a dramatic turn in 2004 when President Festus Mogae stepped down at the end of his ten-year term and handed over power to the Vice- President, Ian Khama, in 2008. Khama duly began his fi rst full term following elections a short while later, but his arrival caused the biggest disruption in the history of the ruling party. He had called for ‘discipline, dedication and determination’ but now senior party members were accusing him of ‘ruling the party with an iron fi st’ and displaying ‘dictatorial tendencies’. They split away and formed the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). He was accused of ignoring the Botswana tradition of Kgotla. To make matters worse for him, large sections of the civil service, including teachers, went on a series of strikes over pay. Khama dug his heels in and refused to budge. Meanwhile, the opposition Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) agreed to join the BMD to form a united front to fi ght the BDP. But shortly after, the alliance collapsed with BCP opting to go it alone. The BMD, BNF and BPP then formed and registered a joint party, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), but without the BCP within their ranks, their chances of beating the BDP have become very slim. To add to their troubles, in late July, Gomolemo Motswaledi, the leader of the BMD and deputy president of the UDC, was killed in a car accident. four 64 l www.global -br ief ing.org th quar ter 2014 global  Since 1965 Botswana has been the continent’s longest continuous multi-party democracy. Transparency International believes it is relatively free of corruption


Global
To see the actual publication please follow the link above