Botswana’s Governance backsliding was inevitable and regrettable

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The 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), launched today by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation highlights that public governance progress in Africa is lagging behind the needs and expectations of a growing population, comprising mainly of young people. The Index has ranked Botswana’s Overall Governance score at 68.5 with an increasing deterioration trend from a 72.2 score in 2008 when former president Ian Khama assumed office to a saddening 68.5 by the time he left the presidency.
The Overall Governance score is calculated by aggregating the four categories of: Safety & Rule of Law, Participation & Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development.
Governance is defined by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation as the provision of political, social and economic public goods and services that every citizen has the right to expect from their state, and that a state has the responsibility to deliver these to its citizens. This definition is focused on outputs and outcomes of policy.
From this report, Khama and his administration left a lot to be desired. Ironically (or expected since this is Africa) even in his departure, key figures from his tenure are still holding powerful positions, leaving a lot of question marks as to what the current president will do next.
Recent research from the Fraser Institute also published similar findings that under the rule of law, Batswana’s legal rights have been declining since 2010. Another index shows that many African governments have struggled to translate economic growth into improved sustainable economic opportunity for their citizens. This includes Botswana at an all time low score of 58.8 down from 63.1, ten years ago. The downward trajectory indicates that the opportunities of prosperity and economic growth in Botswana constantly declined by -4.3% since 2008 despite the fluctuating GDP in the same period.
With a growing youth population, the new administration has the mammoth task of creating a conducive economic environment for prosperity and shift from spoon feeding people through poverty eradication programmes simply because low wage jobs create a slave class which will inevitably come back to haunt us all.
The lesson for Masisi is that citizens’ rights and welfare are key to progress and the honest truth is that if he really wants to build some kind of a legacy, he should start paying close attention to these indicators and begin some real and credible reforms.