Thursday, May 23, 2024

Mo Ibrahim gives Khama’s presidency the thumbs down

As President Lt Gen Ian Khama prepares to step down in five months, he leaves behind a country blighted by “increasing deterioration” in overall governance, the 2017 Mo Ibrahim Index of African governance has revealed.

The 2017 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), launched Monday 20th November by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, reveals how president Khama has presided over a sharp decline in Botswana’s overall governance. The index highlighted that, “Over the last five years, Botswana shows signs of ‘Increasing Deterioration’ in Overall Governance. Botswana registers Overall Governance deterioration over the decade at an annual average trend of -0.09, with the pace of decline quickening in the last five years at an annual average trend of -0.63. Botswana’s Overall Governance decline over the decade is driven by three of the four categories: Safety & Rule of Law (annual average trend of -0.13), Participation & Human Rights (annual average trend of -0.37) and Sustainable Economic Opportunity (annual average trend of -0.31).

The index list Botswana among eight countries registering decline in Overall Governance over the past decade and showing no signs of turning things around, with scores decreasing at an even faster rate over the second half of the decade.

The 2017 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) is the 11th iteration of this Index. The IIAG is an annual statistical assessment of the quality of governance in every one of the 54 African countries, covering a 17-year time series from 2000-2016 inclusive. Khama stands out as the only Botswana leader whose presidency has had an unfavourable review by the Mo Ibrahim foundation. His predecessor, Festus Mogae was in 2009 awarded the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. The Ibrahim Prize celebrates excellence in African leadership. It is awarded to a former Executive Head of State or Government by an independent Prize Committee composed of eminent figures, including two Nobel Laureates. The award was established by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in 2007, long after Botswana’s second president Sir Ketumile Masire had stepped down. However, in recognition of Sir Ketumile’s achievement in African leadership, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation appointed him to its board.

The eleventh edition of the IIAG looks at both country and indicator trends over the last five years (2012-2016), within the context of the last decade (2007-2016). By evaluating more recent progress on governance alongside long-term performance, the 2017 IIAG provides the most nuanced assessment to date of the evolution and direction that countries, regions and specific dimensions of governance are taking.

Over the last ten years, 40 African countries have improved in Overall Governance. In the last five years, 18 of these ÔÇô a third of the continent’s countries and home to 58% of African citizens ÔÇô including Cote d’Ivoire, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria and Senegal, have even managed to accelerate their progress. In 2016, the continent achieved its highest Overall Governance score to date (50.8 out of 100.0).

However, over the same period, Africa’s annual average rate of improvement in Overall Governance has slowed. Of the 40 countries improving in Overall Governance during the last decade, more than half (22) have either done so at a slower pace in the last five years (i.e. Rwanda and Ethiopia) or show decline (i.e. Mauritius, Cameroon and Angola). Furthermore, eight of the 12 countries registering decline in Overall Governance over the past decade are showing no signs of turning things around, with scores decreasing at an even faster rate over the second half of the decade. This group includes Botswana, Ghana, Libya and Mozambique.

Despite the sharp decline in Botswana’s governance, the country still benefitted from the dividend of its history of good governance and scored 72.7 (out of 100.0) in Overall Governance, ranking 3rd (out of 54) in Africa. Botswana scored higher than the African average (50.8) and higher than the regional average for Southern Africa (58.6). Botswana achieved its highest category score in Safety & Rule of Law (81.6), and its lowest category score in Sustainable Economic Opportunity (64.6). The country achieved its highest sub-category score in National Security (100.0), and its lowest sub-category score in Rights (52.1).

The Mo Ibrahim index confirms earlier finding by the The World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2016 which revealed that under President Ian Khama’s administration, Botswana lost its badge of honour as the shining example of democracy in Africa and suffered a sharp regression in the rule of law.  The report highlighted how  government has become more dictatorial and less accountable, respect for fundamental human rights is being eroded while corruption has gone up and the justice system is becoming less effective. Data from The World Justice Project Rule of Law indices show that between 2012 and 2016 Botswana has dropped from position one to position five in Africa  and from position 20 to position 60 in the world on the index of accountability and constrains on government powers. The country’s score came down from 0.73 to 0.55 during the review period. This, however, did not happen overnight. The country has been on a downward trajectory since Khama took power. Between 2012 and 2015 Botswana dropped from position one to position three in the region and from position 20 to position 32 in the world on accountability and constrains on government powers. The country’s score dropped from 0.73 to 0.63 in the period.  

Research by the World Justice Project has revealed that Botswana is the only country in the region which showed a downward trend on “constraints on government powers,” during the both the 2015 and 2016 periods. The index shows government’s accountability and the extent to which there are adequate checks on executive authority. It measures the extent to which those who govern are bound by law.   It comprises the means, both constitutional and institutional, by which the powers of the government and its officials and agents are limited and held accountable under law. It also includes non-governmental checks on the government’s power, such as a free and independent press. Explaining the index, the report states that, “Government checks take many forms: they do not operate solely in systems marked by a formal separation of powers, nor are they necessarily codified in law. What is essential, however, is that authority is distributed whether by formal rules or by convention in a manner that ensures that no single organ of government has the practical ability to exercise unchecked power”. The World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2016 also revealed that Botswana government has become less transparent under the Khama regime. The country has dropped 48 places between 2013 and 2016 on the global ranking for “Open Government.”

In 2013 Botswana was ranked 20th in the world with a score of 0.67 and three years later the country is down at position 68 with a score of 0.49. The report shows a pattern of regression over the years. Last year (2015) Botswana was ranked 33rd in the world with an open government score of 0.57 The project does not have any indices on Botswana prior to 2012. The records, however, show that Botswana has been deteriorating in almost all indicators of rule of law between 2012 and 2016.   This is in sharp contrast to gains in the rule of law that Botswana has made prior to the Khama government. In fact, the first World Justice Project Rule of Law Index report on Botswana in 2012 shows a country with a thriving democracy and rule of law. This is what the report stated then: “Botswana ranks first in the region in all dimensions of the rule of law but one. There is an effective system of checks and balances, including an independent judiciary and free press. Corruption is minimal and all branches of government operate effectively.”

The country performed the worst on “fundamental human rights” and in 2015 ranked sixth in Africa down from fifth during the 2012-2013 review period. Botswana’s global ranking also dropped from 51st in 2012-13 to55 in 2015 while the country score dropped from 0.59 to 0.56 which is considered a very low score. In 2016 Botswana continued to regress on protection of fundamental human rights down from a world ranking of 55 to 78. The country’s score also went down from 0.56 to 0.51. Botswana now trails behind Ghana with a score of 0.65 South Africa with a score of 0.63, Malawi with a score of 0.58, Sierra Leone with a score of 0.57, Burkina Faso with a score of 0.56 same as Liberia. Although Botswana retained its position as the least corrupt country in the region the index suggests a growth in the level of corruption in Botswana between the 2012-13 review period and 2015 with the country’s score dropping significantly from 0.75 to 0.65 and falling in the global rank from 22 to 29.  

In 2016 Botswana’s score on corruption dropped from 0.65 to 0.62 and the country’s dropped nine places on the global ranking from 29 to 38. During the review period, Botswana marked an increase in corruption in the legislature scoring a disappointing 0.41. The reports also showed a weakening of the country’s regulatory authority. This index measures the extent to which regulations are fairly and effectively implemented and enforced. Although Botswana retained its position one on the regional ranks, it dropped from position 17 in the global rank during the 2012-13 review periods to position 22 during the 2015 review period. The country’s score also went down from 0.71 to 0.66 between the two review periods.

Botswana also slid back on the “criminal justice” and “civil justice” indices. Although Botswana still ranks number one in the region on both indices, the report shows that the country went down five places on the global ranking, from 17 in 2012-12 to 22 in 2015 while its score went down from 0.71 to 0.66. On the criminal justice index, Botswana went down nine positions in the global ranking, from position 18 to position 27 while its score dropped significantly from 0.72 to 0.61.


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