Civil-Military Relations in Botswana’s Developmental State

by Mpho G. Molomo


This article discusses civil-military relations in Botswana with emphasis on internal security and regional instability as they affect Botswana’s development. It recommends that internal security should be left to the police, while the military serves as an instrument of foreign policy. It contends that the involvement of the military in civilian operations is likely to undermine its image and credibility. This article underscores the interface between the executive and the legislature levels of government and their relationship with the military. The military is accountable to the civilian government through executive, legislative and judicial controls. However, despite the existence of clearly defined checks and balances, accountability of the military continues to be elusive and shrouded by a cloak of secrecy. Additionally, as long as a single political party, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), controls the legislature, the checks and balances between the different levels of government will remain blurred.

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Mpho G. Molomo (Ph. D., Boston University) is a senior lecturer and department head in Political and Administrative Studies at the University of Botswana. Formerly, he was coordinator of the Democracy Research Project at UB. His research interests are varied and include political parties, electoral systems, democratization, good governance, and land tenure and security issues. His recent publications include “Understanding Government and Opposition in Botswana,” in Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, Vol. 38:1 (2000); “The State and the Land Question in Botswana,” in Review of Southern African Studies, Vol. 3:1 (1999); “External Military Intervention in Lesotho’s Recent Political Crisis,” in Lesotho Social Science Review, Vol. 5:1 (1999); and “The Political Implications of the 4 October 1997 Referendum for Botswana,” in Democratization, Vol. 5:4 (1998).