Monday, February 26, 2024

Another miserable year under Khama’s watch

Under President Ian Khama’s administration, Botswana lost its badge of honour as the shining example of democracy in Africa and suffered a sharp regression in the rule of law.   Government has become more dictatorial and less accountable, respect for fundamental human rights is being eroded while corruption has gone up and the justice system is becoming less effective ÔÇô The World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2016 has revealed. Data from The World Justice Project Rule of Law indices show that between 2012 and 2016 Botswana has dropped from position one to position five in Africa  and from position 20 to position 60 in the world on the index of accountability and constrains on government powers. The country’s score came down from 0.73 to 0.55 during the review period. This, however, did not happen overnight. The country has been on a downward trajectory since Khama took power. Between 2012 and 2015 Botswana dropped from position one to position three in the region and from position 20 to position 32 in the world on accountability and constrains on government powers. The country’s score dropped from 0.73 to 0.63 in the period.   Research by the World Justice Project has revealed that Botswana is the only country in the region which showed a downward trend on “constraints on government powers,” during the both the 2015 and 2016 periods. The index shows government’s accountability and the extent to which there are adequate checks on executive authority. It measures the extent to which those who govern are bound by law.   It comprises the means, both constitutional and institutional, by which the powers of the government and its officials and agents are limited and held accountable under law. It also includes non-governmental checks on the government’s power, such as a free and independent press. Explaining the index, the report states that, “Government checks take many forms: they do not operate solely in systems marked by a formal separation of powers, nor are they necessarily codified in law. What is essential, however, is that authority is distributed whether by formal rules or by convention in a manner that ensures that no single organ of government has the practical ability to exercise unchecked power”. The World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2016 also revealed that Botswana government has become less transparent under the Khama regime. The country has dropped 48 places between 2013 and 2016 on the global ranking for “Open Government.” In 2013 Botswana was ranked 20th in the world with a score of 0.67 and three years later the country is down at position 68 with a score of 0.49. The report shows a pattern of regression over the years. Last year (2015) Botswana was ranked 33rd in the world with an open government score of 0.57 The project does not have any indices on Botswana prior to 2012. The records, however, show that Botswana has been deteriorating in almost all indicators of rule of law between 2012 and 2016.   This is in sharp contrast to gains in the rule of law that Botswana has made prior to the Khama government. In fact, the first World Justice Project Rule of Law Index report on Botswana in 2012 shows a country with a thriving democracy and rule of law. This is what the report stated then: “Botswana ranks first in the region in all dimensions of the rule of law but one. There is an effective system of checks and balances, including an independent judiciary and free press. Corruption is minimal and all branches of government operate effectively.” The country performed the worst on “fundamental human rights” and in 2015 ranked sixth in Africa down from fifth during the 2012-2013 review period. Botswana’s global ranking also dropped from 51st in 2012-13 to55 in 2015 while the country score dropped from 0.59 to 0.56 which is considered a very low score. In 2016 Botswana continued to regress on protection of fundamental human rights down from a world ranking of 55 to 78. The country’s score also went down from 0.56 to 0.51. Botswana now trails behind Ghana with a score of 0.65 South Africa with a score of 0.63, Malawi with a score of 0.58, Sierra Leone with a score of 0.57, Burkina Faso with a score of 0.56 same as Liberia. Although Botswana retained its position as the least corrupt country in the region the index suggests a growth in the level of corruption in Botswana between the 2012-13 review period and 2015 with the country’s score dropping significantly from 0.75 to 0.65 and falling in the global rank from 22 to 29.   In 2016 Botswana’s score on corruption dropped from 0.65 to 0.62 and the country’s dropped nine places on the global ranking from 29 to 38. During the review period, Botswana marked an increase in corruption in the legislature scoring a disappointing 0.41. The reports also showed a weakening of the country’s regulatory authority. This index measures the extent to which regulations are fairly and effectively implemented and enforced. Although Botswana retained its position one on the regional ranks, it dropped from position 17 in the global rank during the 2012-13 review periods to position 22 during the 2015 review period. The country’s score also went down from 0.71 to 0.66 between the two review periods. Botswana also slid back on the “criminal justice” and “civil justice” indices. Although Botswana still ranks number one in the region on both indices, the report shows that the country went down five places on the global ranking, from 17 in 2012-12 to 22 in 2015 while its score went down from 0.71 to 0.66. On the criminal justice index, Botswana went down nine positions in the global ranking, from position 18 to position 27 while its score dropped significantly from 0.72 to 0.61.


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