Sunday, September 20, 2020

Benjamin Segobaetsho’s article had mistakes in it

The February 3-9, 2010 issue of the Botswana Gazette carried an article titled “Canadian Professor Decries Botswana’s ‘False Democracy.’”

The story appeared in the Telegraph as “A Canadian Academic Pours Water on Botswana’s Democratic Credentials” (also posted to Sunday Standard’s website on 4 February 2009).

The articles refer to a presentation that I delivered at the University of Ottawa on 28 January 2010 that was entitled “Unfinished Stories: Political Development and the 2009 Elections in Botswana.”

My talk sought to make sense of the apparent discrepancy between the widespread sense that the 2009 elections were the most competitive elections that Botswana has ever had and the fact that the BDP increased both its vote share and representation in the National Assembly.

The “unfinished stories” part of the title refers to my interpretation of the elections as simply a moment within ongoing processes of political competition that began well before the 2009 elections and that continue to unfold.

As an academic researcher, I am not accustomed to being quoted in newspapers. I have to thank these newspapers for drawing attention to my work.

On the other hand, both articles attribute to me words that are not my
own. Please compare the style of expression in this letter with the quotes attributed to me and draw your own conclusions.

Both articles suggest that my analysis is based on interviews with ordinary people and newspaper reports. I do pay attention to the views of ordinary people and media reports as I try to understand how political events are perceived by the electorate and different types of political actors. But I also draw on a variety of other sources.

These include interviews with politicians and activists associated with the three main political parties; the observation of political rallies held by the three main parties; the content of party manifestoes and other campaign materials; and the election returns.

I am aware that any one source may be biased or erroneous, but hope that I can get a reasonable understanding by comparing information and interpretations from various sources.

My goal is to be both fair and honest.
Last week’s presentation represents a first cut at analyzing the 2009 elections. The next stage will be to engage in writing. I expect to have a draft paper available for circulation in March. I would be happy to share it with anybody who is interested in it. You may request the paper by contacting me by e-mail ([email protected]).
People who were kind enough to help me with my research and gave me their contact information so that I could send them the products of my work should know that I will send the paper to them automatically.

Best regards –
Amy Poteete
Concordia University, Montreal, Canada

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