Mmegi Blogs :: Mea Culpa, for thinking Botswana was a banana republic
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Mea Culpa, for thinking Botswana was a banana republic

The 2016 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) was launched last week by Mo Ibrahim Foundation. The Index is a comprehensive analysis of governance in the 54 African countries.
By Michael Dingake Tue 11 Oct 2016, 15:16 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: Mea Culpa, for thinking Botswana was a banana republic

It’s on the basis of the report that some former African presidents have received awards running into hundreds of thousands of US dollars from the Foundation for the quality of their countries’ governance while they were at the helm.

Our own F.G. Mogae was rewarded for his standard of governance; Joachim Chisano of Mozambique was another president-do-gooder as well as another from the Cape Verde. There have been some years of drought, which implied that no president was eligible for the prize. It meant standards were declining.

The award’s ostensible objective is to stimulate African presidents’ appetite to improve governance in their jurisdictions. Not a bad idea, come to think of it!

According to the latest report there has been an impressive improvement in a number of countries and on a number of categories in which evaluation is based.

 It is encouraging to note that even a country like our neighbour, Zimbabwe, generally considered to be on a downhill slide, enjoys categories in which she has relatively improved, much more than our own Botswana.

On ‘participation and human rights,’ Botswana score declined, while Zimbabwe’s score went up; again on human development score, believe it or not, both Botswana and Zimbabwe improved, but Zimbabwe did so at a higher rate! The report is interesting, educative and helps to smooth some impulsive exaggerations one might have.

Personally, I was labouring under the impression that Botswana’s score on the category of Safety and the rule of law would be dismal. The Ibrahim Index on African Governance on the contrary puts Botswana together with Mauritius and Cape Verde at number two in that category; Botswana with a whopping score of over 80 percent! Incredible! Over the years I’ve watched Botswana slide down the precipice on the rule of law. Recent media reports of Cabinet Ministers, Permanent secretaries and other top public servants being summoned to appear before the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies for operating outside their mandate and authority, were far from tempering with my conviction that government was violating the principle of the rule of law!

A prospective, yet to be confirmed employee travelling luxury class to sign an unauthorised government contract is something unheard of except in a Banana republic.

A Permanent Secretary sans a Board of Directors’ nod, misleading his inexperienced Minister to undertake a familiarisation flying junket to Brazil, etc to view flying machines, whose purchase has still to be officially approved, is the stuff of Banana republic episodes!

As if the peculiar incidents listed above were not enough, we read of the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security arrogantly and publicly obstructing the traffic police in their course of duty.

The Minister’s driver travels at 101 kilometres per hour (kph) in an area


where the speed limit is 80 kph; no hazard lights and no sirens to indicate the vehicle carries a Cabinet Minister on some emergency call to save life or catch a runaway criminal; when the traffic police in the course of their duty stop the vehicle to warn the driver for exceeding the speed limit, the Minister, instead of assisting the traffic cops in the course of their duty, tries to obstruct them. He goes to an extent of intimidating the cops on duty for being disrespectful to him as Minister. It’s possible he went on to read the riot act to the poor cops, telling them who he was precisely – Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi! With a warning : ‘‘Respect your seniors, lest you risk losing your jobs.…!”   The Minister might have tried to put the fear of the lord into the hearts of the uppity traffic cops. Mind you, the remonstrations went on in full view of other motorists and bystanders who were on the scene to witness the Cabinet Minister haranguing the police. Where else can such behaviour be observed except in a Banana Republic where the rule of law doesn’t apply? The examples cited above are of cases seen and reported to the public. Bet your last thebe that thousands more cases of this nature go unreporte and the hunch that if our country isn’t yet a Banana Republic it’s cruising towards the destination at breakneck speed.

 I don’t know whether IIAG, when awarding President Festus Mogae the prize, had information that in 1998 he overruled Ombudsman, Lethebe Maine on the right of Vice President Khama to fly the BDF choppers, as he was no longer a BDF staff member! FG had dismissed the Ombudsman’s contention that the VP wasn’t entitled to fly the helicopters, by arguing he’s a good pilot; he had once flown him to Kasane, very comfortably.

Had the IIAG had the information before selecting him, I doubt they would have awarded him the prize when they did; his attitude was typical Banana republican.

His Honour, the VP (then), wasn’t far behind. Whenever we, his MP colleagues criticised him for breaking the law by flying BDF aircraft, he dismissed accusation by saying we were envious, because we had no pilot licences!

Emboldened by the constitution which virtually places him above the law, Khama, now President, appoints justices in defiance of the Judicial Service Commission. GW Matenge, while a public servant took exception when he saw the President’s daughter driving a government vehicle when she wasn’t  a government employee!

That should be the guiding principle underlying the rule of law! Mea culpa, if I miss the point!

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