Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Batswana lose confidence on government accountability ÔÇô Afrobarometer

A recent Afrobarometer Policy Paper No.33 on Botswana’s performance on National Vision 2016 has exposed in detail how Batswana have been losing confidence in most sectors of Government since 2008 – a year that President Ian Khama ascended to power.

The country is considered to be doing well in terms of Government performance evaluations under Personal safety and confidence in security forces – recording 67 percentage of Batswana’s sense of security in their homes and neighbourhoods. Although public confidence in the security forces and courts is relatively high, the proportion of citizens who trust the police “a lot” or “somewhat” has declined by 11 percentage points since Khama came to power.

Under openness and accountability the proportion  of Batswana who feel “completely” or “somewhat” free to say what they think has decreased significantly since 2008 from 93 percentage points to 83 percentage points, so too has the proportion who say people “never” or “rarely” have to be careful in expressing political opinions from 67 percentage points to 50 percentage points. 

Similarly, although citizens believe that government accountability is fairly strong, the proportions of Batswana who believe that the President regularly ignores laws or that officials go unpunished have increased significantly since 2008. The proportion of Batswana who believe that Khama abides by the law has declined by 15 percentage points since 2008. Furthermore the proportion of Batswana who believe that officials who break the law seldom go unpunished also experienced a significant decline of 18 percentage points since Khama became President.

Under Education majority of citizens believe that the government is making substantial progress toward achieving a pillar of an informed and educated nation. On average since 1999, 78 percent of Batswana have said that government is doing “very well” or “fairly well” on addressing the country’s educational needs. However this rating has declined by 14 percentage points since its peak in 2008. 

Education ranks third among citizens’ perceptions of the most important problems facing the country.

The study says despite relatively healthy macroeconomic performance,  a third of Batswana describe Botswana’s economic condition as “very good” or “fairly good”. 

A majority of Batswana have consistently reported “very bad” or “fairly bad” on personal living conditions since 2003 with only 19 percent of Batswana describing their living conditions as “very good” or “fairly good.”  This is considered a surprising finding given recent objective evidence that, on average, Batswana’s living conditions have improved significantly since 2002/2003 and that both the incidence and severity of poverty declined in the same period.

Government performances on essential services is said to have improved since 2008 and narrowed the gap between rich and poor by 11 percentage points, food security by eight percentage points and poverty alleviation by six percentage points – however it has declined on provision of water/sanitation by 12 percentage points and improving health services also declined by six percentage points.

Under access to basic necessities the study exposed how broke Batswana are.

Citizens are said to be lacking cash income, which is at critical levels: only three in 10 (30%) survey respondents report having “never” gone without a cash income in the preceding 12 months.

Botswana is counted among countries that have invested greatly in national security. Under a safe and secure nation pillar the study notes with concern the creation of the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) by Khama in 2008.

Under an open, democratic, and accountable nation Afrobarometer data provide evidence of relatively strong political freedoms in the country. Strong majorities of citizens believe that their civil liberties are adequately protected. However there has been a significant decrease of 10 percentage points in perceived freedom of expression since 2008. The study further shows a decline in freedom of expression since 2008.

In 2008 two-thirds (67%) of Batswana believed that people “never” or “rarely” had to be careful about what they said in politics.

This proportion dropped to just half (50%) in 2014. The study says this reduction in perceived freedom of expression coincides with growth in the proportion of Batswana who equate “democracy” with civil liberties and declining citizen satisfaction since 2008, with the way Botswana’s democracy is working.

Under the pillar of moral and tolerant nation two thirds (64%) of respondents in the 2014 Afrobarometer survey say they attended a community meeting in the previous year, down from a peak of 74 percentage points in 2008 when Khama became President. The proportion of Batswana who joined together with others to raise an issue also declined in that period, from 56 percentage points to only 27 percentage points.

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