Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 November 2008
Despite a competitive party system and regular free-and-fair elections, Botswana's polity has been characterised for almost 30 years by considerable authoritarianism focused on the extensive powers of the Presidency and based upon a hierarchical and highly inequitable society.1 But pressures have recently arisen within the country for more openness, participation, and equality, and their growing effects were clearly evident in the October 1994 elections and in the widespread disturbances soon after.
1 See Good, Kenneth, ‘Authoritarian Liberalism: a defining characteristic of Botswana’, in Journal of Contemporary African Studies (Grahamstown), 14, 1, 01 1996.Google Scholar
2 Wiseman, John A. and Charlton, Roger, ‘The October 1994 Elections in Botswana’, in Electoral Studies (Guildford), 14, 1, 1995, p. 3. Ministers had, for example, begun their campaigning much earlier as part of their on-going, and publicly funded, programmes of consultation.Google Scholar
3 Zaffiro, James J., ‘The New World Order from a Botswana Perspective’, in Africa Insight (Pretoria), 25, 2, 1995, p. 104.Google Scholar
6 Election Manifesto 1994, pp. 4 and 8.
9 Election Manifesto 1994, p. 13. Where the existence of a problem was to some extent recognised in the BDP manifesto, the governing party's response was usually to propose the creation of a review committee of the improvement of established policies.Google Scholar
10 The manifesto of the Botswana National Front (BNF) was very weak in this regard, promising, for example, to introduce a citizen army, and to radically change the nature and composition of the country's political institutions, without consideration of the feasibility, consequences, and cost of the proposals. BNF, Manifesto for the General Elections 1994 (Gaborone, 1994), preamble and section 14 on defence and security.Google Scholar
14 Patrick Molutsi, ‘The Civil Society and Democracy in Botswana: an overview’, Conference on Civil Society and Democracy in Botswana, Gaborone, 25–27 October 1994, p. 12.
15 Ikanyeng Malila, ‘Civil Society in Botswana: women's organisations’, Ibid. 25–27 10 1995, pp. 8 and 10–11.
17 Molutsi, op. cit.
18 Maundeni, Zibani, ‘A Report of the Democracy Research Project’, Conference on Civil Society and Democracy in Botswana, Gaborone, 25–27 10 1995, p. 37.Google Scholar
19 Malila, op. cit. p. 6.
20 Molomo, Mpho, ‘Theoretical and Conceptual Issues About Civil Society’, Conference on Civil Society and Democracy in Botswana, Gaborone, 25–27 10 1995, p. 12.Google Scholar
21 Unity Dow is a Motswana woman married to an American, who had been seeking amendments to the Citizenship Act which would confer the same rights of inheritance upon her children as those enjoyed by Batswana men. Although the High Court had found in her favour, the Masire Government had opposed the decision.
23 Takirambudde, Peter, ‘Botswana’, in Baehr, Peter et al. (eds.), Human Rights in Developing Countries: Yearbook 1995 (Bergen and Utrecht, 1995), pp. 134–5.Google Scholar
25 Myths epitomised, for example, in the very title of the classic book by Thomas, Elizabeth Marshall, The Harmless People (London and New York, 1959, re-issued by Philip, David, Cape Town, 1988).Google Scholar
26 Gordon, Robert, ‘Bushman Banditry in Twentieth-Century Namibia’, in Crummey, Donald (ed.), Banditry, Rebellion and Social Protest in Africa (London, 1986), pp. 173–89.Google Scholar
27 Hitchcock, Robert K., ‘Settlements and Survival: what future for the Remote Area Dwellers of Botswana?’, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 13 10 1995, p. 6.Google Scholar
28 Hitchcock, op. cit. and Good, ‘At the Ends of the Ladder’, pp. 205–21.
29 Robert K. Hitchcock and John D. Holm, ‘Grassroots Political Organizing Among Kalahari Bushmen’, pp. 3–4.
30 According to Mmegi, 26 08 1994, Hardbattle, John and Johannis, Aaron recalled the Assistant Minister as telling their San delegation: ‘You think that these outsiders [donor and aid agencies] will always help you, well, one of these days they will be gone and there will only be us, and we own you and we will own you till the end of time and you will not achieve what you want.’Google Scholar See also, Good, ‘At the Ends of the Ladder’, pp. 229–30.
31 Hitchcock and Holm, op. cit. pp. 5–6.
34 Holm and Hitchcock, op. cit. p. 6. While the notion of ‘rural civil society’ appears to be something of a misnomer, it is used by several writers on Botswana democracy in reference to rural community action.
35 The Council of Women is described by Malila, op. cit. pp. 8 and 10, as being of ‘the older branch’ of the women's movement, with a ‘conservative attitude’ on issues, while the YWCA has begun to add a tentative ‘feminist consciousness’ to its established humanitarian concerns.
36 Molutsi, op. cit. p. 11.
37 Molomo, op. cit. p. 5.
38 It should be noted that the concept of ‘civil society in Botswana’ utilised by Molutsi and others specifically excludes parties, and tends to take a narrow definition of politics.
39 Wiseman and Charlton, loc. cit. p. 3.
43 Rachai, Chadwa and Tsheko, B. O., ‘Economic Challenges Following the 1994 General Election’, in Barclays Botswana Economic Review (Gaborone), 3rd edn. 1994, p. 3,Google Scholar and Republic of Botswana, , Report to the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration on the General Election, 1994 (Gaborone, Government Printer, 1994), Appendix E, p. 101. The figure of 54·4 per cent for the BDP in 1994 is from the official Report.Google Scholar
45 In translating the popular vote into seats won in Parliament, first-past-the-post tends to disadvantage smaller parties and to favour ‘strong government’. The BNF with 36 per cent of the vote won 13 seats, while the BDP with 56 per cent – only 20 per cent more – got 27 seats, more than double the opposition's representation.
47 See Maundeni, op. cit. p. 37, for a limited and partial exception to this tendency which occurred in 1994, when Lesedi La Botswana, led by Eitlhopa Mosyini, broke away from the BDP.
49 Molomo, op. cit. p. 4.
54 Maundeni, op. cit. pp. 11–14.
55 Rachai and Tsheko, op. cit. p. 4.
56 Maundeni, op. cit. pp. 29–35, who also reports that a majority of the women voters, unlike the men, supported the BDP.
57 Rachai and Tsheko, op. cit. pp. 4–5.
62 Both Presidential Commissions of Inquiry are discussed in Good, ‘Corruption and Mismanagement in Botswana’, pp. 502–4.
68 Eisenstadt, Abraham S., ‘Political Corruption in American History’, in Heidenheimer, Arnold J., Johnston, Michael, and Le Vine, Victor T. (eds.), Political Corruption: a handbook (London, 1993), p. 538.Google Scholar
69 Mmegi, 4 11 1994, according to figures from the BDP's electoral college in Thamaga said to be in the paper's ‘possession’.Google Scholar
71 This official version stresses the storming of Parliament by determined demonstrators, and might well be true. But other accounts speak of crowds milling outside the Assembly, of pressure coming from behind the protesters, and of chaos resulting after the first tear-gas canisters had been fired.
73 Statement by the Red Cross public relations officer, Moswetzi, Peter, in Botswana Gazette, 22 02 1995.Google Scholar
88 The young girl, aged perhaps 13–15 years, stood apparently enraged in front of the two dignitaries. Observers have reported that the children repeatedly declared that both the Minister of Education and the Kgosi had failed to fulfil their responsibilities to them.Google Scholar
104 Kedikilwe was addressing a conference of senior police officers and firmly recommended that the unlawful behaviour ‘be nipped in the bud’. Botswana Today (Francistown), 7 07 1995. Some two years ago, when it was revealed that President Masire and some Cabinet colleagues were heavily in arrears on outstanding loans with the National Development Bank, ministers had responded by attacking what they then termed the ‘culture of abuse’ in the country.Google Scholar
105 The President's state of the nation address was almost entirely devoted to crime and its punishment. The Sun, 8 11 1995.Google Scholar
106 After years of intra-party squabbling on the issue, a special congress of the BDP in November called for the limitation of the State President's tenure to two terms, and amended its own constitution to provide for the periodic election of the party's president.