Rethinking non-accountability and corruption in Botswana
Popular perceptions of Botswana as a shining example of liberal democracy in Africa are misguided. Its political system favours one party and one president, and that predominant party has been in power since 1966. It is an elitist arrangement that harbours corruption and has failed to hold elected officials to account. How has Botswana's 'democracy' allowed non-accountability to flourish? What must be done to improve governance? This article for Africa Insight debunks the myth of Botswana as a regional beacon of democracy throughout the second half of the twentieth century. The root of the problem lies in the system preceding democracy, through which a small number of chiefs accumulated wealth and power. Its autocratic and hierarchical characteristics were perpetuated by the leaders of Botswana's modern democracy. The result was a weak civil society and an ineffective political opposition that has crumbled further over the years. Corruption has thrived in an environment with few checks on power. However, the government's impunity is finally being questioned by the media and the people. This is bringing about a slow shift towards cleaner, more accountable government.