JAE Volume 5 Number 2, December 2006
Special Issue: Elections and Democracy in Botswana

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Guest Editor: David Sebudubudu
Editors: Denis Kadima & Khabele Matlosa
Copy Editor: Pat Tucker

Contributors: David Sebudubudu, Monageng Mogalakwe, Mpho G Molomo, Patrick Molutsi, Onkemetse B Tshosa, Mogopodi H Lekorwe, Adam Mfundisi, Tidimane Ntsabane, Chris Ntau, Kaelo Molefhe, Lewis Dzimbiri, Onalenna Doo Selolwane, Victor Shale, Zein Kebonang, Wankie Rodrick Wankie, Zitha Mokomane, Monageng Mogalakwe.

Key terms: Botswana, Pre-Colony, Post-Colony, Continuities and Discontinuities, Political Power Relations, Governance, Democracy, Electoral System, Global Perspective, Elections, Parliamentary Oversight, Independent Electoral Commission, Civic Participation, Voting Patterns, Youth, Failure, Unite, Win, Leadership Challenge, Opposition, Fragmentation, Enhancing, Intra-Party Democracy, Democratic Party, Gender, Observation, Monitoring, Building, Social Capital, Trust, Consolidating Democracy, Trends, State-Civil Society Relations, Review: 40 Years of Democracy in Botswana 1965-2005 225


David Sebudubudu

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David Sebudubudu is Senior Lecturer and Member of the Democracy Research Project University of Botswana

From Pre-Colony to Post-Colony: Continuities and Discontinuities in Political Power Relations and Governance in Botswana

Monageng Mogalakwe

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Dr Monageng Mogalakwe is senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Botswana

ABSTRACT: Botswana has been praised for its adherence to parliamentary democracy and good governance and as the best hope for Africa. However, a closer examination of its much vaunted democracy reveals a top-down presidential system in which an unelected president has more power and authority than an elected Parliament and the country's parliamentary system does not ensure and facilitate broad-based and inclusive political participation in the decision-making process. This resembles the political power relations and governance systems of both the pre-colonial era under the chiefs and the colonial era of the resident commissioners.

Democracy and Botswana's Electoral System

Mpho G Molomo

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Mpho G Molomo is an associate professor in the Department of Political and Administrative Studies at the University of Botswana

ABSTRACT: This paper underscores the fact that Botswana has the longest-serving democracy in sub-Saharan Africa and yet remains deficient in the application of democratic norms. The electoral system that Botswana uses, the simple majority first-past-the-post (FPTP) system, is one of the elements held accountable for the limited extent of democracy in the country. It is widely recognised that the political stability and accountability the country enjoys is a result of the FPTP system. Nevertheless, the system is considered to be wanting in many important indicators of democracy such as popular representation, inclusiveness, and consensus building. In the light of this the paper recommends electoral reform that would not throw away the positive attributes of the FPTP system but build on them to introduce more inclusive processes. The paper recommends that instead of taking the extreme position of introducing proportional representation, which also has its fair share of problem, leading to government instability and lack of accountability and effective links between politicians and the electorate, it recommends a middle of the road solution - the mixed member proportionality system - which strives to include the best elements of the other two electoral systems.

Beyond the State: Botswana's Democracy and the Global Perspective

Patrick Molutsi

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Patrick Molutsi is executive secretary of the Tertiary Education Council

ABSTRACT: The success of democracy is determined both by the extent to which the citizens of a democratic country enjoy rights, freedoms, and a high quality of life and the extent to which the foreign policy of a democratic country articulates its democratic culture and principles abroad. The Western so-called mature democracies have described democracy as their way of life and anyone who is seen to threaten this way of life as their enemy. This particular stand has been clearly brought to the fore by post-September 11 political developments and the USA and UK invasion of Iraq in 2003. The question this paper raises is who has the right to promote democracy? Can democracy success cases such as Botswana be promoters of democracy as well? Does democracy promotion bring any benefits to the promoter? I argue that indeed Botswana has been successful in establishing her democracy at home against all odds. I conclude, however, that Botswana has been a reluctant promoter of democracy abroad. As a result the country's potential democratic leadership mantle has been taken over by new democracies such as post-apartheid South Africa.

Elections and Parliamentary Oversight in Botswana

Onkemetse B Tshosa

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Dr Onkemetse B Tshosa is a Senior Lecturer in Law, Head of the Department of Law at the University of Botswana, Judge of the SADC Tribunal and a Member of the University's Democracy Research Project

ABSTRACT: Botswana's Legislature plays a significant role in overseeing the electoral system and ensuring that it adheres to the minimum basic tenets of democracy such as free and fair, competitive elections and that the vast majority of eligible voters participate in the whole electoral processes. The main piece of legislation the National Assembly has enacted is the Electoral Act, which provides for the general administration of elections and electoral processes, electoral institutions, requirements for voting, electoral offences and sanctions. The Electoral Act has been supplemented and augmented by constitutional amendments, notably the establishment of the Independent Electoral Commission and the promulgation of regulations. The former, in particular, has, by and large, addressed the issue of free and fair elections. The paper concludes that these legislative initiatives have contributed to the consolidation of liberal democracy in the country and that Parliament has a still greater role to play in ensuring a free and fair electoral system.

The Role and Status of the Independent Electoral Commission

Mogopodi H Lekorwe

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Dr Mogopodi Lekorwe is a senior lecturer and Director of The Centre of Specialisation in Public Administration and Management (CESPAM)

ABSTRACT: Free, fair and transparent elections are fundamental to democracy. Citizens need to be assured that the politicians truly reflect the will of the people. The bodies charged with overseeing the election process must be impartial and independent, transparent and accountable. Botswana's Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has overseen two elections since its formation in 1997 and overall has been judged to have carried out its duties competently and fairly. The elections have been free of disputes, contributing to the widely held belief that Botswana is a stable democracy. The IEC is to be applauded for undertaking self-evaluations with stakeholders following each election in order to improve its performance. However, the structure and funding of the IEC leave it open to the charge that it is not truly independent of government and this has led to allegations, particularly by the opposition, that it may be biased. These perceived threats to independence should be addressed in the interests of transparency and to reassure the voters and avoid messy contestation of election results. It is recommended that the IEC should be responsible to Parliament and not to the Office of the President. It should be adequately funded to enable it to perform its tasks and obligations under the Constitution and the Act. The chief executive officer of the IEC should be appointed by the IEC itself in order to guarantee loyalty.

Civic Participation and Voting Patterns in Botswana

Adam Mfundisi

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Adam Mfundisi is a lecturer in the Department of Political and Administrative Studies University of Botswana

ABSTRACT: Civic participation is a broad and far-reaching concept that means different things to different people and in different contexts. Botswana is highly regarded in Africa and the world as a model of democracy and good governance, a regard that is associated with the liberal democratic credentials of the country and with regular elections, which have been declared by commentators and observers to be 'free and fair'. However, despite the accolades bestowed on Botswana, civic participation in the political affairs of the country has been poor. There has been low voter turnout in most general elections since independence in 1965 and there has been a downward trend in civic engagement. This calls into question the much-celebrated democratic credentials of the country.

Youth and Politics in Botswana

Tidimane Ntsabane and Chris Ntau

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Tidimane Ntsabane is a senior lecturer in the Sociology Department of the University of Botswana
Dr Chris Ntau is a lecturer in the Sociology Department of the University of Botswana

ABSTRACT: This paper examines the extent and nature of electoral participation in general and that of youth in particular and attempts an explanation. It draws on reports from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and its predecessor, the Elections Office, and on opinion surveys carried out by the Democracy Research Project of the University of Botswana (DRP). It argues that the poor participation of youth in politics in Botswana in general and in elections in particular is rooted in traditional Tswana culture which limits the participation of youth in public affairs. This culture is reproduced by the main socialising agents in society such as the family, the school system, political parties, and the media.

A Failure to Unite Means a Failure to Win: The Leadership Challenge for Botswana's Opposition

Kaelo Molefhe and Lewis Dzimbiri

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Kaelo Molefhe is a lecturer and Dr Lewis B Dzimbiri senior lecturer in the Department of Political and Administrative Studies, University of Botswana

ABSTRACT: The paper argues that the failure of opposition parties to oust the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) from its firm grip on power has a great deal to do with a weak opposition leadership. Following the famous opposition victory in the Gaborone West North parliamentary by-election of 2005, where, for the first time, a united opposition won against the ruling BDP in parliamentary elections, electoral unity talks among opposition parties started in earnest, with a heightened sense that unity was the only possible way of ousting the BDP in the 2009 general election. This renewed sense of hope, however, seems to be nothing but a mirage, with signs of discontent and mistrust already showing among the parties engaged in these talks.

Opposition Politics and the Challenges of Fragmentation in Botswana

Onalenna Doo Selolwane and Victor Shale

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Dr Selolwane is a senior lecturer in the Sociology Department at the University of Botswana
Victor Shale is a researcher at EISA and a doctoral candidate in the Political Science Department at the University of South Africa

ABSTRACT: It has become an article of faith that in modern political life political parties are the legitimate and logical instruments through which the diverse interests of groups within any societal polity should be mobilised to negotiate peaceful coexistence and democratic governance. The failure of these instruments to perform this role in that manner in societies outside the Anglo-Saxon cultures in which they were born is too often glossed over as a reflection of certain persisting innate inabilities on the part of the non-Anglo-Saxon people on which they were imposed. However, it is the contention of this paper that it is not always very helpful to study political institutions born in one culture and grafted onto another by simple reference to their characteristics in the culture of their birth. Rather, it is more useful to acknowledge the historical specificity of their transfer and examine how this has inter-phased with the new cultural milieu to redefine their characteristics and define future directions for change. This paper is a study of Botswana's political parties and their relations. Specifically it seeks to examine inter-party relations to assess prospects for opposition party cooperation for effective competition for the governing mandate.

Enhancing Intra-Party Democracy: The Case of the Botswana Democratic Party

Zein Kebonang and Wankie Rodrick Wankie

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Zein Kebonang, formerly a lecturer in the Law Department of the University of Botswana, is currently Visiting Professor, Centre for Justice Studies, Department of Criminology, University of Ottawa, Canada
Wankie Rodrick Wankie is a lecturer in the Law Department of the University of Botswana


Gender and Elections in Botswana

Zitha Mokomane

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ABSTRACT: There can be no real democracy without political parties - the lubricant that oils the engine of democracy. However, the dichotomy between political parties and democracy remains uncertain. The same is true of the relationship between democratic theory and party organisations. The concept of intraparty democracy centres on the idea of including party members in intraparty deliberations and decision-making processes. It is true that parties that are not open and transparent are unlikely to become democratic in their policy commitment because democratic institutions produce democratic attitudes and authoritarian institutions produce authoritarian attitudes. Our thesis is that intra-party democracy is a prerequisite for a democratic state. This paper traces the development of intra-party democracy within the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and argues that a new model of intra-party democracy, which is participatory in nature, is emerging within the party, although it is still resisted by some, ostensibly on the grounds that it destabilises the party.

Election Observation and Monitoring in Botswana

David Sebudubudu

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Dr David Sebudubudu is a senior lecturer in the Department of Political and Administrative Studies, University of Botswana and a member of the Democracy Research Project (DRP) of the University of Botswana

ABSTRACT: In an attempt to address the concerns of opposition parties, election observation and monitoring have in recent years become part of the electoral process in Botswana. This paper examines their role in Botswana's electoral process. It argues that election observation and monitoring have promoted transparency and accountability as well as public confidence in the credibility of the Botswana electoral process, especially in recent years. Moreover, they are a source of legitimacy and stability. The paper concludes that it is the emergence of democratic regimes in the region that in part has attracted observers to Botswana's elections despite the fact that its elections have generally been free and peaceful and have involved no major disputes.

Building Social Capital and Political Trust: Consolidating Democracy in Botswana

Mpho G Molomo

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Mpho G Molomo is an associate professor in the Department of Political and Administrative Studies at the University of Botswana and a Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies Department of Political and Administrative Studies University of Botswana

ABSTRACT: This paper seeks to address the extent of democratic consolidation in Botswana. It departs from the basic premise that democracy is a contested enterprise that is always under construction and is socially embedded in a given cultural setting. In measuring the extent of democratic consolidation it applies the social capital theory to establish how horizontal social networks build norms of reciprocity, which give rise to social capital and political trust. It draws heavily on Putnam's thesis that networks of interpersonal trust lead to civic participation and engagement, and consequently to political trust.
However, what emerges from Botswana's democratic politics is that Batswana do not have a participative culture, they do not engage in voluntary civic associations and there is a general lack of trust in political institutions and politicians. The paper endeavours to explain this non-participative culture. The traditional system of government - bogosi (chieftainship) - was hereditary, so people were not socialised into electing a leader every five years or so. Yet the paper also shows that the consultative structure of the kgotla (the village assembly) system, although it discriminated against women and youth, has consensual elements built into it. The paper concludes by challenging the thesis that traditionalism must give way to modernity if democracy is to be consolidated. Instead it suggests that the strength of Botswana's democracy lies in a judicious and careful blending of the Westminster parliamentary system with the traditional rule of bogosi. If democracy is facing a threat it is not from traditional institutions but from globalisation, which has disempowered nation-states and given inordinate powers to markets.

Trends In State-Civil Society Relations In Botswana

Monageng Mogalakwe and David Sebudubudu

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Monageng Mogalakwe is a senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology, University of Botswana
David Sebudubudu is a senior lecturer in the Department of Political and Administrative Studies, University of Botswana, and a member of the Democracy Research Project (DRP) of the University of Botswana

ABSTRACT: The accolades that have been heaped on Botswana as a shining example of democracy and good governance in Africa have been exaggerated. While Botswana has regularly held elections since its independence in 1966, the post-colonial state's relationship with civil society reveals that some of the institutions of civil society such as labour unions and the independent press/media have been tightly controlled, in sharp contrast to others, such as human rights or women's organisations. This is because the former institutions are viewed as a threat to the status quo, while the latter are seen as compliant and playing only a legitimising role.


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40 Years of Democracy in Botswana 1965-2005, Zibani Maundeni (ed), Gaborone: Mmegi Publishing House 2005, 244 pages