The Botswana Institute for Policy Development Analysis (BIDPA), a quasi-government think tank has presented a mixed bag of the state of governance in Botswana urging stakeholders to safe-guard freedom of expression and strong regulatory frame-work which are said to be showing signs of wobbling.
Professor Jonathan Kaunda told a gathering of academics, top government officials, politicians and members of the non- governmental organizations that although Botswana has scored well in areas of political stability, government effectiveness, rule of law and control of corruption, compared to the rest of Sub Sahara Africa, its scores on issues such as voice and accountability and regulatory quality is declining.
“Botswana performance is above Sub Sahara Africa and we are a star. If we compare Botswana performance with Sub-Sahara Africa, it is way above, e.g. in political stability, government effectiveness and control of corruption,” Kaunda said.
He urged government to review its policies and legal frame-work, given the declining indicators which are voice and accountability and regulatory quality in the country.
“This performance decline is disturbing and worrying; it implies that Botswana may not retain its status as a shining example of good governance in Africa.
One interpretation of this outcome could be that Botswana is becoming more similar to other low performing countries in Sub-Sahara Africa.
“Therefore, the status of Botswana as a ‘shinning example’ compared to other African countries in terms of various measures of political, social and economic governance is becoming questionable,” Kaunda said. “We need to diverse some means which will keep the country at the top of the league.”
However, participants at the workshop expressed concern on issues of government delivery which they said, despite the high economic growth recorded over the years, the level of poverty in the country is still highly unacceptable.
They further pointed out that government projects take long to be completed and when the finally get completed most of them would have over-shot the original budget.
“Let us be realistic here. Botswana has had impressive growth rates but that has to be distinguished from a rise in the standard of living. However, with regard to health the HIV/AIDS infection rates are declining which I think is impressive.
“But the problem with government is that policies look to be sound but the problem is that things are not done.
“We have the policies, institutions and the money but things are not simply done,” Professor Kaunda said.
The governance assessment indicators said they are very important to both governments and international cooperating partners because they are proving a concise view of what is happening on the ground.
The Botswana governance assessment ÔÇô especially on government effectiveness and voice and accountabilityÔÇöis also blighted by the centralization of power where central government is very influential even in the district budgets. Further, some of the complaints include an avalanche of directives from the central government which have left government organs and quasi- government organization having to act on the whims of the central government rather than their own individual plans.