Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) faces an uphill battle in the 2014 General Elections as 69 percent of rural folks ÔÇô the party’s traditional support base ÔÇô are unhappy with their living conditions, a new study has revealed.
A new study by Afro Barometer has revealed 69 percent of rural respondents say their living conditions are bad compared with just 39 percent of urban respondents, while a considerable number of working citizens and most productive age group are mostly concerned about government’s economic management.
The rural areas are BDP strongholds. Commenting on the survey, University of Botswana academic and member of the research team that compiled the report, Dr Gladys Mokhawa, said this was interesting as BDP’s strongholds are in the rural areas.
“This is an indication or a challenge for BDP to do more to ensure improvement of living conditions in these locations if they are to maintain this base,” she said.
The study also found that Batswana’s ratings of the government’s economic performance slipped in 2012, with 67 percent of survey respondents approving or strongly approving of the government’s economic management, compared with 76 percent in 2008.
Sunday Standard also sought to establish whether the trend (Batswana’s ratings of the government’s economic performance decline) could not be very problematic for President Ian Khama administration, because the government’s success has been built on fiscal stewardship, economic prosperity and good management.
“In addition to saying the government handled the economy well, the majority of respondents say the government has done badly in creating jobs, keeping prices down and narrowing the gap between rich and poor and, interestingly, the percentage of people who say that living conditions are bad is highest among 18 to 45 year olds who are traditionally considered among the most productive in any economy,” Mokhawa told Sunday Standard.
According to the study respondents from the most productive group in the economy, people from 26 to 65 years old, were among the most concerned about the government’s economic performance.
The study also uncovered that while a majority of all groups said the government handled the economy “fairly well” or better, 33 percent of respondents aged 26 to 35 and a similar proportion of 36-to-45 year-olds said the government handled the economy badly or very badly.
A slightly smaller proportion, 29 percent of the 46-to-55 year age group, said the government performed badly, as did a similar proportion of 56-to-65 year olds. “The youngest group surveyed gave the highest approval ratings for the government’s handling of the economy with 75 percent of people aged 18 to 25 reporting that the government does fairly or very well in handling the economy.
Only 26 percent of this group reports that the government is not doing well.┬á Factors that could account for the strong approval ratings include the government’s pro-youth interventions such as Ipelegeng, Internship programme, Youth Development Fund, LIMID, and Youth Empowerment Scheme.
On living conditions, the percentage of people who say that living conditions are bad is highest among 18 to 45 year olds, who are traditionally considered among the most productive in any economy. That percentage has risen since 2008. For example, in 2008 just 48 percent of 25-to-35 year olds reported bad living conditions. By 2012 a majority of respondents of that age group, 53 percent, said conditions are bad.
Afro barometer says the findings show government a roadmap for economic management; they also challenge the government to create sustainable improvements of people’s living conditions.
Botswana’s government has traditionally been responsive to economic concerns, building one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The government’s high confidence ratings, reported in past Afro barometer polls, suggest respondents believe their government will listen, the news study says.
On other issues, the study found that a majority of Batswana approve of their traditional local chieftainships, who are not democratically elected, while at the same time endorsing democracy and rejecting un-democratic forms of government, the Afrobarometer survey found.
Endorsement of these chieftainship, or Bogosi, the study says, remains high regardless of the respondent’s level of education or whether he lives in an urban or rural area, the survey shows.
Traditional and modern institutions are perceived to be irreconcilable, but Batswana do not share that view; paradoxically, overwhelming majorities support both democracy and chieftainship.
“Botswana is widely acclaimed as a model of democracy in Africa. Perhaps the blending of traditional and democratic institutions accounts for Botswana’s relative political stability. The data suggests Bogosi are necessary as partners in democratisation,” states the study.