Africa 360 – The politics of Botswana

Africa 360 – The politics of Botswana

hello and welcome to this week's edition of Africa 360 I'm your host gwangalli we're way but SWANA is Africa's pride and joy one of the few countries on the continent with a consistent record in good governance political and economic stability this week on Africa 360 we travelled to have a run and peel beneath the layers to examine the damning allegations levelled against the government there the Botswana Democratic Party has been in power since independence in 1966 presiding over nearly five decades of political stability and economic growth but the weeks leading up to the country's 11th democratic polls revealed a widespread call for change senior producer Linda Mouton Ghana hit the streets of Harbour on to find out why but SWANA so fed up Botswana is one of Africa's most remarkable success stories a peaceful nation free of corruption a stable economy built on diamonds free education free healthcare the proud achievements of the Botswana Democratic Party which has ruled since independence in 1966 the country's founding father sir sir it's a comma transformed Botswana from a cattle post in the desert to one of the world's most important diamond economies over the years Botswana cemented its growing reputation achieving high rankings in regional and international indices ranked 30th out of a hundred and seventy five countries Botswana is the least corrupt nation in Africa the World Press Freedom Index placed Botswana ahead of the US for media freedom while the Mo Ibrahim index of African Governance says Botswana is the continents third best performer so it's a comma and the leaders that followed after him are credited for presiding over four decades of economic and political stability but today under the leadership of the founding fathers eldest son Ian Khama it appears rankings and reports no longer matched the reality on the ground economic growth has slowed youth unemployment is on the rise and in 2011 but Sona saw its biggest ever public wage strike perfect ingredients for the growth of the political opposition the 2014 elections were touted as the most contested in Botswana's history as the umbrella for Democratic Change and the boots on a congress party fought to take constituencies from the ruling BDP the elections revealed a deep desire for change among urban youth voters if you look at all of the other African countries they have changed their political leaders peaceful so let's just change and see what happens we give them five years and then if we must will tear them out we take them off we are better compared to other African countries but I think we could be better so these elections are really about taking us to where we think we should there are allegations that suggest that democracy and justice are under threat in Botswana there is suspicion around the death of homo-lumo matzah lady the secretary-general of the opposition umbrella for Democratic Change he died in a car accident in July this year but many believe the accident may have been the work of Botswana's notorious Directorate of intelligence and security services I must say that of late the state of justice or the rule of law has been diminishing in this country issues of extrajudicial killings the attitude that government has adopted in respect of the media and generally issues relating to to governance there is a feeling a general perception amongst people that the standards of democracy generally in this country are diminishing the state's relationship with the medium is also of growing concern earlier this year the editor of the sunday standard was arrested while a reporter fled to South Africa after facing charges of sedition for writing a story about the president losses such as sedition laws that prohibit publication of a you know certain meta laws such as criminal deformation in respect of the president all these laws and a host of others have got a chilling effect on freedom of expression following his inauguration for a second term as president Ian Khama went to court to seek an amendment to how the vice-president Speaker of Parliament and Deputy Speaker are elected he wants MPs to vote by a show of hands rather than a secret ballot another measure that suggests that democracy may be under threat in Botswana journalists and lawyers are among those coming under fire for their investigations of the alleged miscarriage of justice here in Botswana allegations they yet but they are no less determined and they fight for justice I will continue to in the work I'm doing and I was I believe in it and I believe that it is something I've been destined to do in this world Linda meeting Anna Harbour only I'm joined now by mr. Duma Boko who's the lead of Botswana's opposition coalition the umbrella for Democratic Change thank you very much for joining us in Africa 360 now for us on the outside Botswana is seen as a democracy of functioning democracy and also one of the success stories of African nations and obviously I mean the bdp has been ruling this party for almost 50 years plus can't they be credited for this well yes they deserve some credit especially the previous three presidents of Botswana they deserve some some commendation for the work that they've done but with the current regime I think those are Khaled's would be highly misplaced which is why we've seen the regression in terms of economic development we've seen declining standards in education and health we see alarming levels of corruption we've seen heightened insecurity on the part of every citizen of the Republic of Botswana so any equalities that attached or accrue would accrue to presidents long gone and would have to end with president mahai with the current regime those accolades would be misplaced now talking about the president's long gone what is their relationship like with the incumbent it does not seem to be very good they have come out in fact if they have had to come out and declare that Botswana is fast receding into into entry Amano cracy they have come out president Masseria and president mahai have said this openly and publicly and president massara has has come out and indicated that the opposition now is more credible than it ever was and deserves to be considered for government let's talk about the incumbent president Ian Khama of course he's the son of the first president he's also a chief of a major tribe but resided here rumors of discontent about his increasingly draconian style of leadership just tell us a bit more about this well yes indeed he came in highly touted he came in commanding a lot of goodwill he was coming in from the Army he inherited a political party that was on a democratic party that was riddled with factions at the time he was seen as the person to unite the party to reunite the party and we're with the factions I needed and he failed miserably in fact for the first time in in the history of the ruling party it suffered a major split that resulted in the formation of the Botswana movement for democracy which is a splinter organization of the ruling party and is also part of the umbrella for Democratic Change now that was an event that shook the Bojana Democratic Party to it's very foundations one would have expected a leader to respond to these challenges by reviewing his style of leadership his approach he in in fact failed to do so and intensified his draconian approach to leadership he has made the party all about himself and the entire administrative apparatus of the countries now a one-man show so if one way to describe was rana in one world at the moment one would have to call it a mana cracy it's a government of income by him at best with his cronies and for for himself now talking about the party just tell us does it actually have a grip on treatments such as the military or the judicial system in the country the party as such doesn't and the man himself in karma the man himself has a creep on one or two institutions that by law he has control over he has lost the confidence of the our media Mises is totally disillusioned there for their own work-related grievances that they've raised over a long period of time that began in fact when you are still in the army some of them have have persisted to this day and the army blames him in critical respect for for those problems they he has formed when he came into office he approaches politics and administration from the standoff of what we might call a security neuroses he is very paranoid he established the Directorate on intelligence services whose mandate is very unclear was expertise is highly questionable there is people table in the investigation of petty crimes interfering with the work of the police and accountable to any any any judicial process they interfere in the work of of the the military because a lot of these operatives are drawn from the military they interfere in pretty much every facet of life in which one do you fear for your life yes I do and as we've stated so many times not only do I fear for my own life I fear for the lives of all the other citizens of the Republic we've seen experiences very recently incidences where members of the D is have picked up people from their houses and gone and tortured them seeking to extract information that we aren't clear about so these are things that that that scare everybody but Rana is gripped by this fear everybody feels insecure everybody feels that their privacy's have been violated there are conversations over their phones and mobile phones are being listened into so it's it's a it's a reign of era and terror in in Bhutan at the moment thank you very much mr. Baumer thank you very much thank you for heavy we have never ever intercepted justice to take his call welcome back you're watching Africa 360 damning allegations were made by the umbrella for Democratic Change in the run-up to Botswana's 2014 elections the UDC and the private media painted a picture of a ruling party whose grip on power is tightening as its confidence begins to fade we went to the bdp headquarters in Hebron and sat down with the party's secretary-general and pour below P here's that interview now let's look at the political tensions that we saw just in the run-up to the elections an opposition politician was he died in a car accident a suspicious car accident what so a lady another position member was left for dead in a ditch and he alleged that he was actually tortured and kidnapped by the Secret Service in this country how do you respond to this because a lot of people are pointing fingers at the ruling party you know what it's unfortunate we always say to people that was our Democratic Party can do everything to delay death in terms of the good health facilities that we have ever since independence we have been developing our health care you know services and the only thing that we can do we cannot stop death not like every stop car accidents but what is very very critical to understand here is that we felt his boot on a democratic party because m'lady the men that you are mentioned right now he's a personal friend that's for starters as a Secretary General he's a former Secretary General of bosanna Democratic Party even though his term was only for about maybe less than two months but one thing that you have to understand is that he was groomed and he was as he established himself as a politician within the Poussin a Democratic Party I understand so there was no foul play we strongly believe that this was very I wanna say irresponsible for the opposition because you know you've always enjoyed the peace the tranquility the unity within this country you've always been a shining example for you know many countries you'll be new as a as a you know as an example just taking up on that point about what's wanna being hailed is you know one of the very good countries when it comes to good governance and democracy yet we've seen the clamp down on the media in this country and I'm referring to the editor who was arrested and charged with sedition another journalist pleading to South Africa looking for asylum so yeah you know I actually very unfortunate it's unfortunate because there has been this false reporting peddling of you know untruth and all those things about a lot of things here but as that was happening indexes such as the more Ibrahim there was a fro parameter in many others you know they were indicating continuously that Botswana was a very you know peaceful country freedom of expression was that and mechanics yeah we spoken to people on the ground there saying all these organizations that you've named such as a more Ibrahim index and others its reputation versus the reality on the ground and they're saying that's not what's happening in this country yeah you know what people have opinions and I must say that I'm a responsible citizen most of us here we are all products my let me tell you one thing for example all this generalists something that maybe you have not activated and understand all of them went to school for free they were taken you know for free from primary school to University and one thing that is you have to understand if the bdp government believe that by educating people including chaining them as journalists taking them to reputable universities to study journalism and all those things was to actually give you know people that you don't necessarily want to come in and comment and do what they've been trained for you will not then sponsor them because you know by doing that you are actually creating a problem for your source we do that normally because we do know one of the key pillars of this country's freedom of expression and you know democracy in totality so you strongly believe that there's no deadline the only thing is that opposition went in to sell papers and you know bosanna has one of the given the population of this country that a lot of papers a lot of papers and everybody has to try and do something that can catch one sigh so that they can sell their paper when and so all this argument example one of the papers here one of the local newspapers here reported that there's a tunnel that is being done you know by you know from the State House where the president live you know you are preparing to you know run away once you lose elections and all that and I asked a very simple question very simple question I take it that when you dig somewhere there's to be heaps of soil somewhere which come out of the tunnel maybe that should be the starting point forget about talking about security as to whether that is indeed happening you need to be able to substantiate what you report on but here people just say things because they sang the most of the Gennie's are unethical very very much so and this is not my blowing the journalist in the sauna do you know that they are not control they're not regulated they've got no ethics whatsoever they seems to be a perception that the president has a distaste for the media especially in this country and you've just said to us now that the media here is unethical so how do you balance this picture that's painted of great pot Swan a good governance good democracy yet you've got an unethical media here that is detested by the president no it's not sure the president has been you know he's given it doesn't even have press conferences I believe no no let me tell you something I don't know whether the press conference you regard a press conference as the highest it's not likely must speak to the press and they must question him or he has been questioned he has been covered by a number of journalists including the paper that reported but he had this thing one-on-one be a bit but he doesn't have such conferences is that correct and why does it he had press conferences I know there were in 20 for instance in 2011 in mahalik after giving in this day you know in address in our nation that was three years ago no no wait a minute he always interacts with the press always you understand it might be how we actually interact with the press that might not necessarily be what they want and the difference is you know I don't think you have to get a freedom of expression and freedom of relations we don't agree everything even the president has it isn't it it's not only that me as secretary-general you and our other people should have the right to say this is how I'm going to be communicated by the most important thing is the president is forever communicating with the press and if you want to go intervie human various issues is always available to do that yeah he's done that a lot of times now if we look at one of the former presidents Festus MO hi he's on record that's saying I think it was during the 2014 African Leadership Forum in Tanzania he said that the current regime doesn't respect the rule of law isn't that an indictment coming from one of your former president we did respond to that statement to say you know what freedom of expression actually doesn't necessarily mean that you have to say everything that would like trivia but we have to prove you know you have to understand that each and every time and times do we have their own challenges at the particular time but the president of this country has been not even once not twice he has been a product to be number one in terms of the you know taking care of his people but people say he's too powerful and that the courts even their own your own party and the legislature they don't have any authority to hold into account and that's because the provisions in the Constitution they know he wields a lot of power the powers of the President are the same as the first president powers here I don't know which powers now you're talking about he is using the same Constitution but other presidents will use maybe they didn't use it no no no he's not abusing it we have never ever intercepted justice to take his course and this current president has never done that it's a lot of it thank you very much we'll have to end the interview there we've run out of time thank you very much yeah thank you very much it's not like we hate President AMA personally we just happened to be against some of the decisions he's taking welcome back the secretary-general Botswana's ruling be deep in poor Bella P certainly had some harsh words for journalists in Botswana we decided to get their side of the story autumn Oconee the editor of The Sunday Standard who was arrested and charged with sedition spoke to us here's what he had to say in response to the bdp allegations thanks very much for joining us now we spoke to the secretary-general of the ruling party and he's saying that journalists in this country are basically unethical including your news organization how do you respond to this well he he represents the other side so I would expect him to say that in fact I doubt you'd have said anything nice about journalists in this country I mean we've had we've had relationships with previous governments and you know it was a very healthy relationship until we had the current administration which i think is understandable considering that the leader of the current administration is a soldier and he's used to issuing orders he's not used to being questioned he's not be used to being held to account and I'm a general naturally take offense oh and I've been called to account so that's I mean that pretty much explains why there's such an adversarial relationship between us in the media and the current administration mr. Bello P cites an example of one of the stories you carried that a bank has been built at the presidential residence and he says this is as he said it's hogwash it's not true it's it's a fabrication do you have any proof that this man has actually been built well we published a picture of the bunker under construction and we challenged them if they deny the story we challenged them to go with us to that bunker we know where it is we shot a picture of that bunker so we challenged them to go with us to that bunker and shoot pictures and show it to the world because we insist that it is a bunker that's being built now mr. biloba says that Ed gets a money story is a complete vacation and then you as well saying that your life is in danger is absolutely not true just shed more light on this well Edgar daemon is brother works in the intelligence agents in the country's Intelligence Agency and Edgar zamani's brother warned Edgar that his life is in danger and we've had instances in this country where journalists where the journalists and opposition party politicians were abducted away abducted kidnapped tortured and you know probably killed you know we have the homo-lumo modulated incident a lot of people believe he was killed and we believe he was killed too so when we are told your life is in danger against a background of such developments would you say no it's not true I don't believe that no it doesn't make that it what does media freedom look like in this country and another bdp government well i anteye i expected that they would come down on the media in fact i would not be surprised if they crammed down in the media we've had a very very especially this understand the scientists and artists vet has had a very very difficult relationship with the government of Bhutan we don't get government advertising we are the biggest circulating quality newspaper in the country and yet we don't get government advertising the ruling party on the other hand when they went to the elections they knew they needed to reach a leadership they advertised with us and yet the government does not advertise with us because they don't want us to get government advertising I mean let's say salat it's not about it you know the decision not to advertise with us is not a business decision it's because they are trying to penalize us for our editorial position it's not because they think we don't reach the market d12 service so we have that problem with the government now the allegations that your newspaper is supporting the opposition especially the coalition party how do you respond to this well I'm going to be very honest with you we are seem to be sympathetic with an opposition for now but I can assure you that if President Gamal to lose the elections tomorrow we would be the first we would be the first music and he knows a tip top we would be the first newspaper to defend him in the event that any of these parties tried to harass him or you know treat him unjustly we he knows thus understand that would be the first newspaper to come to his defense so it's not like we hate president AMA personally we just happen to be against some of the decisions he's taking we are because we are for the rule of law and his beans is seen to be eroding the rule of law in this country so naturally we would we would be seen to be at cross-purposes thank you very much for the interview well that's it for this week's edition of Africa 360 if you would like to add your voice to the discussion on the issues raised visit our Facebook page or you can tweet us at Africa 360 underscore en CA you can also send your emails to Africa 360 at ANC a calm that's it for now thanks for watching goodbye you

25 thoughts on “Africa 360 – The politics of Botswana

  1. The former president can not be wrong alone he was choosen. And a miltary person he works on commands yes or no bassis. So when he say do this you must do it.and for me the whole system failed even the the former former!

  2. I agree with the opposition party member says that the former President was Useless to say the least

  3. I am sorry to say that my general opinion of virtually all African leaders makes me what to vomit. with one exception: Nelson Mandela who was exceptional and a very rare human.

  4. Dear botwana, i am from cameroon n have been to so many other african countries.if u know how blesssssed u r,OMG u will be highly higly greatfull.stop believing all this propagandas n apprrciate the government u have cus what we go through from our govements in other african countries, cameroon to be precise,u wont survive a day in it. U, Rwanda n namibia including tanzania r one of the best n roll models for africa…pls appreciate it…thanks

  5. The country is going down. Journalist are eye openers for citizens. Economically we took 2 steps backwards.

  6. COME 2019 BDP VS UDC. Cant wait. The media here, they post fake news. One week they post the story and the other week they apologize

  7. ke gor yo a reng a nnetse go ikgama ka mahoko jaana. it is evident that he is just doin this to cover up somebody somewhere..

  8. Botswana is a democracy and has not changed. Time will prove this to be the case. The opposition in this country along with their supporting press want change of government and choose to create this impression that the country is in decline. This is just simply rubbish and time will prove this. Press in this country is nothing like is found anywhere else and evidence on anything they say never exists. I hope international press could base in Gabs and follow every story covered by local press, and any allegation made by the opposition, and show us where the facts are and what is the basis for any of this. Botswana has not changed in any shape or form!

  9. This was pretty informative..Mpho Balopi gives me an impression that this interview he did not prepare for. He has valid valid opinions but failed to directly answer what was being asked. Good documentation though.

  10. Biased media, why not talk about Malema and marikana mines? Journalism in Botswana is forever against the ruling party, why wouldn't it surprise when all this happen?

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