President Ian Khama’s popularity has dipped 10 percentage points ahead of the forthcoming elections slated for October 24, a report released by the Afro Barometer on Friday has shown.
The report shows that 67 percent of Batswana trust the president in 2014 adding that this presents a 10 percent drop from 2008.
The Survey conducted at a time when the country is heading towards the general elections in October sheds light on citizen’s views on democracy and election, among other issues.
The report states that 65 percent of Batswana believe that leaders of political parties are more concerned with serving their own political ambitions, compared to 29 to 29 percent who believe that they serve the people.
The report shows that 44 percent of Batswana believe that the opposition presents a viable alternative government to the ruling party compared to 37 percent who disagree. Just under half (48 percent) agree with the direct election of the president. This represent a drop from the previous survey in 2012, in which 59 percent were in favour.
According to the report, Botswana’s government performance is in decline and Batswana trust their institutions much less in 2014.
The reports states that 55 percent of Batswana trust parliament, 59 percent trust the ruling party and 53 percent trust local government. Batswana’s trust in traditional leaders is the highest (72) of all institution considered.
Batswana’s in opposition parties remains low, at 37 percent, though it shows a modest increase of seven percent from the 2008 survey.
Job performance approval of leaders remains relatively high. Job performance approval of President Khama is the highest at 79 percent followed by traditional leaders at 77 while Members of Parliament is 56 percent and local councillors is at 53 percent.
Generally, government performance in handling important matters are in decline. The report shows that managing the economy has dropped from 76 percent in 2008 to 67 percent in 2012 and a further decline to 64 percent in the 2014 survey.
The government performance in addressing education shows a declining trend from 2008 (83 percent) , a modest drop in 2012 (82 percent) and significant decline of seven percent in 2014 (70 percent) . Providing water and sanitation shows a dropping trend since 2008 (72 percent). Government performance dropped to 67 percent in 2012 survey and further declined to 61 percent in 2012.
Government performance in fighting corruption (53 percent) shows the most decline of all matters considered, dropping by a significant 16 percent from 2008. Government performance in providing reliable supply of electricity stands at 61 percent which is a drop of 5 percent 2008.
Speaking on the sidelines of the presentation of the survey, University of Botswana scholar, Professor Mpho Molomo attributed the decline in President Khama’s popularity to a number of factors. He said when President Khama ascended to the presidency in 2008 there were many expectations from Batswana. “Even when he was a Vice President, he told the nation that the door of his office was open. There was also a lot of hype about him,” said Mololmo. However, Molomo said people started to react to issues such as corruption which they believe the president is failing to address.
Molomo also stated that the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members helped in building Khama’s personality at the expense of the party and government institutions.
“By propping up the President, we are killing institutions. The BDP has been building a personality cult around the President because of social programmes that are associated with him. These programmes are always identified with the President and whether they are sustainable or not is something that is hardly considered,” said Molomo. He said President Khama’s popularity and trust in him is largely in the rural areas because that is where the party’s support base is found.
The Afro barometer report also state that if elections were held in June or July 2014, the majority of Batswana would have voted for the BDP with 52 percent. Botswana Congress Party would consolidate its position as the strongest opposition party with 20 percent. The coalition of opposition parties Umbrella for Democratic Change would have won 13 percent.