Botswana

There is evidence across Africa that even countries that are endowed with resources have failed to transform, partly due to bad leadership. Leadership can make or break a country. Botswana is a good example of leadership that can make the difference. The country has transformed from desolation at independence (1966), to an upper middle income country by the 1990s. It is viewed today as an economic and political success story that can offer lessons to other African countries.102 Botswana has strong political institutions. Before colonial rule, it enjoyed a tradition of civil participation based on the Kgotha—comprised of an assembly of adult males—where public concerns were addressed and criticism of the ruler was voiced. The democratic process introduced after independence reflected the Kgotha tradition.103

All Botswana’s leaders have demonstrated values-based leadership. For instance, Seretse Khama built a nation from a collection of tribes and ethnic groups united only in part by a common language. As a result of his gifted and honest leadership, without the taint of corruption, good governance has been entrenched in Botswana. Khama developed solid institutions that hold the country’s rulers in check, providing consistent and independent rule of law, an energetic and committed civil service, a self-sufficient private sector, an independent judiciary, dedication to free speech, widespread citizen participation, and strong educational and health services.104 Similarly, Festus Mogae (President 1998-2008) built on the foundation laid by his predecessors. In recognition of his good work as the president of the country, he won the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership in 2008. Mogae was succeeded by Ian Khama, son of Seretse Khamam, who also did not deviate from the path set by his predecessors.105

Because of good governance, Botswana is accredited with many successes. It is one of the few countries in Africa that transformed its mineral wealth into political stability and widespread gains for its citizens.106 Botswana managed to build strong political institutions that reflect the Kgotha tradition, transparent systems, and pursued competent macro-economic and trade policies.107 The country entered the world’s top 30 countries perceived to be less corrupt in 2013.108 Furthermore, part of Botswana’s political culture involves consulting and building consensus around each government policy before it is discussed in parliament.109

 
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