|Home | Current Issue | Previous Issues | Submission Guidelines | Books for Review|
Civil-Military Relations in Botswana's Developmental State
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.
In 2001, the Southern Africa region was swept by a wave of violence and wars. There is the resurgence of civil war in Angola, between government forces and UNITA, and the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in which Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe have intervened in the name of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ in Politics, Defense and Security.1 Additionally, in 1994, Lesotho was engulfed in turmoil in which an imminent coup was foiled by the military intervention of Botswana and South Africa. After the withdrawal of Botswana and South African troops from Lesotho and the launching of operation Maluti, the political situation in that country remains delicate.2 As a result, Botswana's security regime needs to be understood in a wider regional context.
This article seeks to assess the role of the Botswana Defense Force (BDF) with respect to how it guarantees national security and democracy in one of Africa's fastest growing states. It departs from the basic premise that the military is the coercive arm of the state charged with the responsibility of protecting people against external aggression. Its role is to uphold, in a non-partisan manner, the rule of law and the territorial integrity of the polity, otherwise economic development is jeopardized. One of the worrying trends in the democratic discourse in Botswana is the overbearing influence of the military in politics. By its very nature the military involves the use of legitimate force and violence, and in most cases this tends to undermine the country's democratic culture. Its hierarchical nature and the high concentration of executive authority tend to make decision-making circumvent accepted procedures of public accountability and popular participation. There is, to be sure, a tenuous relationship between the provision of national security and democratic control.
This article concentrates on the broad themes of state, military, and democracy in Botswana. First, it discusses national security and democratic accountability of the army in Botswana because those parameters provide an appreciation of the role of the military as a tool of the state that is used to enhance national security and democracy. Pertinent to this discussion is the role of the military in the developmental affairs of Botswana. Secondly, this article discusses the interface between the military and the civilian population-specifically, the manner in which the military has defined its role and accounted for its procedures under a civilian government. Finally, some conclusions are drawn on how the military should contribute positively to peace and democratic norms and values in Botswana.
Botswana is usually given as a model of a working democracy in Africa. Since independence in 1966, it has maintained an open liberal multi-party system. It has established an unparalleled record, at least in Africa, for supporting constitutional and democratic rights. The constitution of Botswana provides for an executive style presidency in which the President is both head of state and the executive branch of government. It provides for a unicameral legislature based on the Westminster parliamentary system in which Members of Parliament (MPs) are elected on the 'First-Past-The-Post' (FPTP) or "winner-take-all" electoral system. There is also a lower chamber of 15 non-elected members of the House of Chiefs, which only serves in an advisory capacity.
Botswana's "exceptionality," to use Kenneth Good's expression, as a frontrunner in democratic politics is based in part on the successful blending of the liberal democratic institutions with traditional institutions, which are based on bogosi (chieftainship). There is overwhelming evidence, which is corroborated by data from the Mass Survey of the Democracy Research Project conducted in 1987, that Batswana are rooted in traditional values and norms. When people were asked whom they would consult if they had a problem, an overwhelming majority preferred kgosi (chief) to a Councillor, Member of Parliament, civil servant, or religious leader. Although the post-colonial state curtailed the powers of diKgosi (chiefs), they are still accorded a lot of respect and recognition. The state has harnessed the kgotla (village assembly) as an effective forum for public consultation and dissemination of information for developmental purposes. Notwithstanding the tenuous relationship that exists between diKgosi and politicians, a judicious balance has been struck between the two institutions and they complement one another on matters of governance.
During the 1970s, when many African countries overturned multi-party constitutions and opted for one-party regimes, Botswana resolutely adhered to a multi-party system. By 2001, the country had 13 political parties. Yet in spite of the seeming manifestation of democracy as evident by the existence of several political parties, Botswana is characterized by a weak opposition. Opposition parties are generally weak due to the unfavorable FPTP electoral system, poor organization, and lack of financial and human resources. The FPTP electoral system has produced a predominant party system in which the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has won each and every election by a landslide victory. It was only in 1994 that the opposing Botswana National Front (BNF) projected itself as a serious contender for political power by winning 13 out of 40 seats in parliament. The electoral fortunes of the opposition, however, dropped following the internal split of the BNF and the subsequent formation of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP). To date, the opposition has yet to coalesce into a formidable force to challenge the hegemonic position of the BDP. The weakness of political society is compounded by the weakness of civil society, which is still at a formative stage at best. Where civil society is organized, the government uses its prerogative of incumbency to destabilize or co-opt its leadership.
Despite the benign neglect of British colonialism, Botswana transformed itself after independence in 1966 from one of the poorest countries in the world to an economic success story. Over the past three decades, the country has earned a reputation of having one of the fastest growing economies in the world. In 1996, its gross domestic product per capita was estimated at $3,303 and indications are that it continues to maintain that level. However, alongside this spectacular economic growth, there has also been an increase in poverty and income inequalities and lack of economic diversification.
The rural income distribution survey of 1974 showed that 45 percent of rural households lived below the poverty line and there is increasing evidence that poverty and inequalities continue to increase. As it is often the case with market-based economies, a few people control the majority of the country's wealth. To put this more concretely, ownership of the means of production is best reflected in the livestock subsector - a mainstay of the economy - even though it has been overtaken by diamonds as the leading foreign exchange earner. Ownership of cattle in Botswana is skewed; between 40 and 45 percent of the rural population do not own cattle and about 70 percent of that group are female-headed households, who are among the poorest of the poor. Of the cattle-owning population, 40 percent own less than 40 herd of cattle while six percent own more than 100 herd of cattle (Botswana Agricultural Policy, 1991).
It is evident from the above statistics that Botswana's political stability is premised on an uncertain economic balance. Its economic success was based on a contradictory reality of economic growth and growing disparities in income inequalities. Despite the spectacular growth rates it has recorded, rural poverty remains a serious problem. Attempts made to diversify the economy have been hampered by recurrent droughts, overdependence on the mineral sector and dependence on South Africa for most of its imports. In addition to economic concerns, this paper also argues that Botswana's political stability is also premised on an uncertain military balance.
MILITARY AND THE DEVELOPMENTAL STATE
Botswana's exceptionality has attracted considerable scholarly attention. Some call it a developmental success story, while others have described it as an authoritarian liberal state (Stedman, 1985; Holm, 1996). Niemann referred to the diamond industry in Botswana as the state's best friend because of the impressive rate of economic growth resulting from this natural resource (Niemann, 1993). However, as Leftwich notes, Botswana's developmental state is the result of other factors in addition to the good fortunes of resource endowment (Leftwich, 1996: 143). First, it is anchored on sound economic management that is also driven by effective policy formulation and implementation. This perspective recognizes the fact that a country may be well endowed with economic resources but if they are not harnessed through clearly articulated policies and programs, development would remain elusive. Second, Leftwich also argues that "the primacy of technological rationality, bureaucratic unity and insulation of economic policy-making from social and political pressures have served as the institutional basis for effective economic policy management" (Leftwich, 1996:143). It is now common knowledge that Botswana did not inherit any infrastructure or an educated workforce at the time of independence. Politicians and civil servants who took over the reigns of power lacked the technical know how to formulate and implement government policy. Instead, at least for the first two decades, they relied on expatriate personnel. The civil service nevertheless developed into a fairly autonomous, professional, and apolitical institution that has done its work unencumbered by partisan considerations. However, lately there has been a steady infusion of highly educated personnel, especially in parliament.
The bureaucracy in Botswana has played a dominant role in defining government policy. While the bureaucratic-technocratic segment of the state apparatus cannot be said to constitute a class in itself, they have, nevertheless, directed and administered Botswana's trajectory of capital accumulation. The technocratic approach that has dominated the country's development planning has given this sector considerable influence in defining the country's economic direction. This confirms what Holm calls "a lack of democratic control of the state bureaucracy" (Holm, 1996:97). The civil service which was dominated by expatriates was responsible for the formulation of the five-year development plans and their implementation. Following these five-year cycles, Botswana is now on its eighth national development plan. These plans are comprehensive, drawing heavily from the national principles of rapid economic growth, social justice, economic independence, and sustained development. So the policy planners committed the increased revenues that the government generated - primarily from diamonds - into the creation of an infrastructure. Starting with the 1974 Accelerated Rural Development Program, the government committed a considerable amount of money toward building roads, dams, clinics, schools, and water reticulation schemes.
As a component of the bureaucracy, the military stands as the second largest formal sector employers after the civil service. The appointment of retired commanders of the BDF to influential and high-ranking positions in government is clear testimony of the political clout that this sector commands. In particular, the appointments of Lieutenants General Ian Khama Seretse Khama (1998) and Mompati Merafhe (1995) to the positions of Vice President and Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration and Minister of Foreign Affairs, respectively, bears testimony to this fact.
The third factor that accounts for the developmental state in Botswana is the existence of an executive presidency with wide ranging powers. As much as these extensive powers derived from the legacy of the independent constitution, they were also informed by the traditional practice of bogosi (chieftainship). As discussed in Mgadla and Campbell, diKgosi ruled their people as ultimate sovereigns but often consulted their uncles (1989:49). A Setswana proverb says that kogsi ke kgosi ka batho (a chief earns his authority by being respected by people), suggests that his authority derives from working in close consultation with the people. DiKgosi presided over the kgotla (village assembly), which remains a forum for deliberating on public policy. While the kgotla was widely regarded as democratic, it cannot be said to encourage popular participation, as women and children were excluded. Anyway, this was to be expected as it is intrinsic to the patriarchal structure of the Tswana society.
As interpreted by the Botswana constitution, the President has wide-ranging executive powers. These include, among others, prerogative of mercy, declaration of war, constituting commissions of inquiry, dissolution of parliament, declaration of the state of emergency, appointment of cabinet and four specially elected members of parliament, and deportation of unwanted persons.
While institutions of the state such as the military are authoritarian in nature, current trends toward democratization demand that the military's interaction with other structures of the state and civil society take a more democratic outlook. Hence, a key question becomes how to democratize the military as an institution of the state? Although a lot of ground has been covered during the 1990s in an effort to democratize in several African countries, many countries still lag behind in making their governments more accountable and responsive to people's needs. By and large, governments in Africa have not ruled by consent of the people but have employed repressive measures to gain compliance. These authoritarian tendencies in many African state governments have not only alienated constituents, but have also ushered in a wave of militarism in politics. However, the military in Botswana is firmly under civilian control.
BDF, POLITICAL STABILITY AND NATIONAL SECURITY
Botswana's security policy is in part determined by its geo-political situation. Botswana shares long borders with Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, and Zambia via the Caprivi. As a landlocked country, its sense of security is predicated on the security interest and goodwill of its neighbors. Following the adoption of the Lusaka Manifesto in 1969, the Southern African region became a battlefield between the security forces of the then white minority ruled territories and the freedom fighters. Botswana was by no means an exception to this destabilization. Botswana's security situation deteriorated in the 1970s, following armed incursion and flagrant violation of its territorial integrity by the Rhodesian Security Forces.3 The "Selous Scouts" (terrorist commandos within the ranks of the Rhodesian Security Forces) wreaked havoc in Botswana by carrying out acts of kidnapping, abduction, arson, and murder of innocent civilians. These atrocities were committed under the pretext that they were in hot pursuit of freedom fighters as the war of liberation in Rhodesia intensified. This made the area around the border between Botswana and Rhodesia a war zone forcing residents of this area to abandon their homes and fields. Botswana could not cope with acts of aggression because its defense was only manned by a Police Mobile Unit (PMU), a contingent of paramilitary police responsible for internal security. The Rhodesian acts of aggression not only overwhelmed the PMU, but also forced the government to heed calls, primarily from Botswana People's Party (BPP) led by Philip Matante, for the establishment of an army. As a result, in March 1977, the BDF was established.4 The creation of the BDF, though an important first step in the building of an effective defense system, did not halt the acts of aggression from Rhodesia (Molomo and Tsie, 1994:112). The Selous scouts continued to destabilize Botswana until the cease-fire after the signing of the Lancaster House Agreement, leading to independence in 1980.
The violation of Botswana's territorial integrity was not only confined to the Rhodesian border, some incursions were also perpetrated by South Africa. The assassination of Abram Onkgopotse Tiro, an activist in the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa, who was in exile in Botswana was among the more notable events. Following the Soweto uprising of June 16, 1976, in which unarmed school children were killed, it was clear that the South African government had reached the height of lunacy and desperation. Many of those youths came to Botswana seeking political asylum, and were hotly pursued by the security branch of the South Africa Defense Force (SADF), who embarked on cross-border raids, bombing houses and killing innocent civilians in Gaborone under the pretext that they housed African National Congress (ANC) guerrillas. Perhaps the most dramatic incident was the June 14, 1985, raid on Gaborone in which 12 people were killed - eight South African refugees, two Batswana, one Dutch national, and a six-year-old Mosotho boy.5 But these acts of cowardice and savagery could not extinguish the desire for freedom of the peoples of South Africa, nor did they weaken the resolve of Botswana to offer political asylum to people who were persecuted in their countries for political reasons. Clearly, these acts of aggression were a serious security concern for Botswana.
The issue of national security is multi-faceted and sometimes polemical. It raises two fundamental questions. First, what were Botswana's national security interests? Second, whose security was of concern, that of the state or the people? A former commander of the BDF, Lieutenant-General Ian Khama Seretse Khama, defined national security as the "maintenance, safeguard and protection of a country's national interests (understood to mean protection of life, protection of property and territorial integrity) from either internal or external threats" (Molomo and Tsie, 1994:112).
The conception of national security needs to be anchored in the whole debate of democratic governance. Democratic governance involves, among other issues, the existence of a multi-party framework, the existence of basic freedoms such as freedom of speech, association and assembly. These basic freedoms must be accompanied by the existence of the rule of law, independence of the judiciary, and above all, civilian control of the military. Democratic governance allows a country to conduct its affairs on the basis of national values that are sanctioned by the popular will of the people rather than narrow sectional interests of the military. To talk of democratic values in the discussion of the military may at face value appear to be contradictory because the military by its nature runs counter to democratic norms. By its nature the military is a hierarchical organization based on force and coercion. Its insistence on unquestioning loyalty and discipline seems to run at variance with individual freedom and civil liberties. As the coercive arm of the state, it is intended to protect the sovereignty of the state, and to wage war if the situation so dictates. However, the place and role of the military in a democratic setting need not necessarily clash with democratic practice.
There are two dominant paradigms in the definition of national security. The first conception is that a strong military contributes positively to national security by acting as a deterrent to forces that may seek to destabilize the state. This conception of security is premised on the Machiavellian notion that good neighbors require good arms (Machiavelli, 1961). One question that is posed frequently is why Botswana is embarking on a massive military buildup when the region appears to be moving towards peace. Is national security being used to camouflage belligerent designs that would roll back the hard-earned peace initiatives? Wouldn't militarization encourage authoritarian tendencies? The former Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration who is now Minister of Foreign affairs, Lieutenant-General Merafhe, argues that it is not a contradiction that Botswana is engaging in a military build up when the region is moving toward peace. After all, he surmised, armies are built during peacetime. The chairman of the BDP, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, concurs with this view, and offers the following as a justification for the considerable expense incurred in building the Thebephatshwa Airbase at Mapharangwane near Molepolole: "The air base should be perceived as an insurance policy and a deterrent to safeguard Botswana's sovereignty."6 The name of the airbase, Thebephatshwa, probably derives from a Tswana proverb, goo-rra motho go thebephatshwa (the best security one can get is from his/her fatherland), and underlies a recognition of the country's fragile sense of security. Curiously, Botswana has a total land area of 582,000 square kilometers, roughly the size of France and Texas combined, but only has an estimated 10,000 soldiers in its army. It is doubtful that such a small army could effectively mount an effective national defense system. In the past, during periods of destabilization, Botswana admitted to South Africa that if freedom fighters were able to use Botswana's territory as a springboard to attack the country, it would be able to do so because of Botswana's inability to effectively patrol its borders. Perhaps it was this vulnerability that influenced defense strategists to suggest building a strong air force in addition to ground troops.
Justifying Botswana's military build up, the former
commander of the BDF Lieutenant-General Ian Khama was quoted in 1996
by the South African Press Agency (SAPA), saying that "the BDF
needed to prepare itself in order to deal with instability that might
spill over into Botswana from South Africa." According to the article,
Khama was worried that the conflict taking place in KwaZulu Natal, the
escalation of crime in the townships, and the massive influx of weapons
had the potential of destabilizing the ANC-controlled government and
spilling over to neighboring countries. Khama did not rule out the possibility
that dissident left wing or right wing groups could access illegal weapons
in efforts to destabilize the state.7 Even though
Khama later distanced himself from these comments, saying that he was
quoted out of context, the possibility of instability within South Africa
and any other neighboring country is certainly an issue in the discussion
on Botswana's national security. The commander of the BDF, Lieutenant
General Louis Fisher, in support of the view that Botswana should build
a solid defense system, quoted Sullivan and Twomey, saying, "We
cannot know with precision the character of our future enemy, the weapons
they employ; but that does not relieve us of the responsibility to prepare
carefully for the future. That preparation cannot be for a single pre-determined
The second perception suggests that a strong military not only encourages a false sense of security but can also lead to authoritarianism and insecurity.9 While the growth of the military is viewed by some as a necessary component of the national security system, such growth in Botswana has sparked a cautious evaluation of its possible trajectories. It is viewed with suspicion that it could undermine the democratic culture that the country has promoted and nurtured since independence. Jakkie Cilliers, the executive director of a Johannesburg-based Institute for Defense Policy, cautions that "at the end of the day, if you build up a large military without a purpose, it becomes a threat to the country" (Mmegi 1996:1). Cilliers argues that since there are no obvious enemies threatening Botswana's security, it appears plausible to imagine that the build up has more to do with the "internal politics of the country."10 The promulgation of the National Security Act in 1986, though a welcome development given the sabotage and espionage resulting from South Africa's destabilization, drew some apprehension because of the sweeping powers the police were given to arrest without trial while undertaking their investigations. Nevertheless, when compared to other African countries, Botswana maintains a good human rights record. However, there is concern that the growth of the military as a bureaucratic-technocratic institution manifesting corporate-like interests is a drain on the scarce resources necessary for economic development. There is always the fear that increased military expenditures might lead to the rise of "new confidence" among military officers and possibly a coup d' etat.11 However, unlike other parts of Africa where coups have occurred, the BDF does not seem to pose a threat to the civilian government.
The strengthening of the BDF drew strong reaction
from the region. Namibia opposed Botswana's purchase of Leopard tanks
from the Netherlands and F5 fighter-bombers from Canada. In response
to Botswana's military buildup the Namibian Foreign Minister, Theo-Ben
Gurirab, criticized the purchase of the Leopard tanks as "provocative
and unnecessary."12 The uneasy relations between
Botswana and Namibia over Sedudu, even though the two countries took
the matter to the International Court in The Hague for arbitration and
was amicably resolved, was a source of potential conflict. 13
Notwithstanding the fact that the military is an instrument of foreign policy and should avoid involvement in civilian operations, the BDF has on occasion been called upon to assist the police when they were not able to cope with crime and the maintenance of law and order. The police force is small and ill-equipped to effectively police the borders against illegal immigrants and armed poachers, especially in the Chobe and Okavango areas.14 During the late 1980s and 1990s, Botswana experienced a dramatic increase in crime activity. This involved burglaries in residential neighborhoods, vehicle theft, car jacking, armed bank robberies, cattle rustling, and illegal immigrants. As a result, the military had to assist the police by setting up roadblocks and patrolling streets to maintain ensure law and order. The growth of private security firms is in part a response to the alarming crime situation in the country.15
The irony is that although the Botswana police have struggled to keep pace with high crime rates, they continue to receive less financial support when compared to the military's appropriation. For example, in the 1996 budget, out of a total of P209 million that was allocated to the Office of President for development expenditures, the BDF received P145 million while the police received only P45 million. This trend has been repeated in successive budgets. In 1997, out of a total development budget of P282 million, the BDF and police claimed 64 percent and 28 percent, respectively. In the 2001 budget, the BDF received 66 percent of the P638 million developmental budget.16
Strong arguments have been presented against deploying the military in civilian or police type of operations on the grounds that it would lead to praetorianism.17 First, the military is not trained or equipped to deal with civilian operations. Their involvement in such operations opens up the possibility that they can use excessive forces, which would undermine their image and credibility. In fact, there are already disquieting allegations of assault, torture, and killing of suspects under interrogation by the military intelligence unit of the BDF.18 As Cilliers points out, any practice that conflates the role of the police and military runs the risk of encouraging clashes between the two groups and politicizing and lowering their professional standards, especially for the military (1995:45).19 By their very nature and ethos, the police and military are different institutions and must be treated as such. Second, such deployments have the undesirable effect of 'politicizing' the army. South Africa's experience in this regard is worth considering. The heavy involvement of the military in South Africa, which included the use of armored vehicles and live ammunition, in the townships during the state of emergency made life extremely difficult for the average man on the streets. In South Africa, during the hegemonic rule of the "securocrates", P.W. Botha, the then President of South Africa, created the National Security Council which bypassed parliament and made decisions that were said to infringe on civil liberties.20 The results of such a policy are well known. The South African state not only destabilized the region but was also at war with its own people.21 Botswana needs to draw lessons from such experiences.
Civil unrest has manifested itself in Botswana in several ways, such as the Bontleng Riots of 1984. One of the most notable incidents was the disturbance at the Radikolo Community Junior Secondary School (RCJSS) in Mochudi in 1994. On November 4, 1994, 14-year-old Segametsi Mogomotsi was found murdered and her body mutilated, supposedly for ritual purposes. In an unprecedented move, the youth in Mochudi, more specifically, students of RCJSS, having been denied their democratic right to peacefully demonstrate and read their memorandum to the District Commissioner, took to the streets in a wild rampage and mayhem reigned in Mochudi. The students engaged in acts of arson, violence and general lawlessness. In solidarity with the students of RCJSS, some students at the University of Botswana, and unemployed citizens and school dropouts in the capital city of Gaborone joined the demonstrations which escalated into violent civil disobedience. During the fracas, the demonstrators stormed parliament, stoned cars, and broke shop windows in the main mall in Gaborone. These actions appeared to be manifestations of simmering social discontent.
The riots in Mochudi and Gaborone, although sparked by the murder of Segametsi Mogomotsi, exposed deep-seated grievances among the unemployed sections of the society. The Special Support Group (SSG), a riot police force, was deployed to contain the disturbances and were later reinforced by the BDF. In the process, the police lost control. Doctors at Deborah Relief Memorial Hospital confirmed that more than 15 people were treated for injuries sustained from rubber bullets by members of the SSG. True to the events of the riots, the police also sustained severe injuries including death from clashes with the rioters. The clashes seemed to have provoked bitter reaction from the protesters following the killing of Moroke by the SSG police.22 As it turned out, Binto Moroke did not live to regret the violence as President Masire had warned. To put it in perspective, following the disturbances in Mochudi and Gaborone the then President, Sir Ketumile Masire, issued a stern warning: "We shall not tolerate lawlessness, destruction of public and private property as well as unruly behaviour...Government has taken stern action to stamp out these unwelcome developments, so I have instructed the police and the army to restore law and order. Those who continue with such behaviour will regret."23
The Mochudi riots could be likened to the Soweto uprisings of June 16, 1976, in South Africa. Even though the incidents were different in their intensity and circumstances, they were similar in the manner in which students expressed their anger and frustration at the institutions of law and order.24 It is common knowledge that the police and military are duty bound to protect the country against lawlessness and external aggression.25 However, unbridled use of force in a democracy, as was the case during the Mochidi riots, is cause for serious concern. The opposition BNF Youth League issued a statement warning against the militarization of Mochudi and Gaborone (1995:4). They lamented that demonstration of military might through the display of arms of war, which was typical of South Africa's destabilization campaigns, was not in keeping with democratic practice and may signal the emergence of a police/military state.
Civil unrest in Botswana has not only been confined to the civilian population. Over the years, junior officers in the BDF and the paramilitary police, even though they have never embarked on mutiny, have expressed dissatisfaction for not being paid commuted allowances as well as their deteriorating working conditions.26 It is a real irony that the state should be preoccupied with building airbases and buying fighter-bombers and not addressing the welfare of its soldiers. Dissatisfaction within the military and security forces can be most problematic given its command structure and the fact that they cannot express their grievances through labor unions. The loss of morale for soldiers on matters having to do with their pay and conditions of service are matters that have led the military elsewhere in Africa to intervene in politics.
In a democracy, good civil-military relations hinge on the subordination of the military to a civilian government. The Botswana Defense Force is firmly under the civilian control under the political jurisdiction of the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, housed in the office of the President. Civilian control of the military is a complex and often multi-faceted process. It does not mean that the civilian government would control all the decisions made by the military. To the contrary, it entails the recognition of the place and role of the military in a civilian government. Since its inception, the BDF has been socialized into a culture of democratic political processes wherein the military was institutionalized under civilian control.
Over the years, military organizations with established traditions that are firmly under civilian control have gained considerable autonomy regarding their modus operandi. Invariably, as noted by Kohn, the complexities of war and the need to "professionalize the management of war" have given military institutions greater latitude to manage their own affairs (1997:142). By way of illustration, the decision that the BDF should intervene in Lesotho in September 1998 was a civilian decision taken by the executive without the involvement of parliament. After Botswana and South Africa intervened in Lesotho, there was a popular perception that the president and his cabinet ought to have consulted parliament before it made the decision to intervene.27 However, the truth of the matter is that, the president, as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, is empowered by section 48(2)(a) of the constitution to determine the operational use the arm and parliament can only be informed afterwards. Nevertheless, the BDF has to be accountable to parliament and its budget and policy subjected to public scrutiny. Such checks and balances make the military more accountable, transparent and operate in consonance with the popular will of the people. Kohn was most instructive in making this point when he asserted that in matters of waging and managing the security forces, civilian control is enhanced when such authority is exercised by the executive arm of government (1997:145). However, the operational matters of the military regarding its a size and form fall under the purview of the legislative arm of government. The separate yet complementary roles that the executive and legislature play on their control of the military serve as an important check and balance to ensure not only its political neutrality but also its subordination to civilian control. In this regard, without breaching the secrecy and confidentiality of some military information, the minister in charge of the military has to respond to questions posed by members of parliament. The creation of a parliamentary committee to oversee military and security matters is long overdue.
The threshold of maintaining the correct balance between the political purpose of a military intervention and the flexibility to allow the military to use its judgement in executing a politically defined mandate is sometimes not easy. However, within the framework of Max Weber's legal-rational model and the separation of powers, the military is able to define the niche for its operation. Kohn further notes that the separation of powers minimizes the chances of the executive use of the army to overturn the constitution or coerce the legislature (1997:145). In the case of Botswana, the Westminster Parliamentary system that has facilitated a predominant party system has resulted in a strong executive that dominates the legislature. On occasion, the legislature has not been allowed to review the defense budget in its presentation in the National Assembly due to national security concerns.
The interface between the executive and the legislature in their relationship to the military must be properly comprehended. The president, through the executive or relevant ministry, commissions officers, formulates military policy, procures weapons, and makes plans for future development. The role of the legislature is also well defined. It does not only pronounce the existence of the military but also approves the military budget proposed by the executive as well as other policy positions. Through budget allocations, parliament has the most potent weapon of controlling the manner in which the executive directs the military. However, in the case of Botswana this check and balance is non-existent as parliament is totally controlled by the BDP. However, in theory the BDF is accountable to the populace through parliament.
The military as an institution has its own code of conduct and ethos that are not always in consonance with those of the civilian population. In the majority of cases, they are secluded from the civilian population and as a result, develop their own norms and subculture. To maintain their professional integrity, the civilian government has to recognize that the military needs a measure of autonomy that may also include a separate system of justice. However, such a structure should not undermine or compromise the independence of the judiciary. In criminal cases, the judiciary must without fear or favor hold members of the military liable in misdemeanor and criminal offenses. In a manner of self-censorship, the military itself does maintain civilian control. The truth of the matter is that civilian governments without the backing of the military are weak and only derive their strength from it. In short, the military has the power to make or break civilian governments. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to tread carefully on that fine line between civilian control and military autonomy.
The political influence of personalities in the military may also impinge on civil-military relations. The decision by government to remove Lieutenant General Ian Khama from the military and offer him a political position is widely perceived as a survival tactic for the BDP. The 1997 Lawrence Schlemmer study that was commissioned after the BDP's poor showing in the 1994 elections, recommended the party should bring in a person of "sufficient dynamism" to inject life into the party. Khama was perceived as that person. Khama is also the heir apparent of the Bangwato throne, the most populous district, comprising at least 14 parliamentary constituencies. His political influence is evident by the president's offer of the vice-presidency along with expanded power to oversee other ministries. However, given his military style of management, which flaunts establish procedures as well as poor working relations with other members of parliament, has led skeptics to believe that he is a liability to the BDP.28
By the same token, a word of caution has to be made that playing politics with the military is playing with a double-edged sword. It has the propensity to bring about political stability and instability. Lieutenant Generals Mompati Merafhe and Ian Khama Seretse Khama have both been specially appointed to parliament and have also served in executive positions in the civilian government. While it is the constitutional right of every Motswana to join any party when the retires from the public service, the move of the two Lieutenant Generals referred to above was carefully orchestrated. The danger lurking in this practice is the politicization of the army. These appointments have inadvertently set a trend that when an army commander retires, he gets appointed into a political position.
ACCOUNTABILITY AS A FORM OF POLITICAL CONTROLOF THE MILITARY
In an effort to enhance democracy, the BDF needs to be accountable for its actions to the polity that it serves. Accountability hinges on the existence of clearly defined roles of the military and the civilian government. As indicated above, it is without doubt that the military is answerable to the civilian government through executive, legislative and judicial controls. Yet, despite the existence of channels of checks and balances, accountability in the military continues to be elusive and shrouded by a cloak of secrecy. It needs to be emphasized that democracy is enhanced when public officials are accountable to elected officials. When accountability is lost, there is a great chance of corruption and mismanagement.
It is probably with respect to the military that Kenneth Good's assertion of "authoritarian liberalism" is most applicable. The procurement of arms and operations of the BDF are surrounded with a cloak of secrecy even to the extent of denying such information to members of parliament.29 Nevertheless, it is an undisputed fact that the right of the public to know how their tax monies are spent is an indispensable part of democratic governance. Yet, the BDF takes serious exception at such inquiries. The office of the auditor general is one of the instruments that enforce prudent financial management. The auditor general submits his scrutiny of all accounts to parliament. The news media has reported that the auditor general's office finds it difficult to audit BDF accounts because they do not get full disclosure on certain expenditures due to national security concerns.30 The role of the opposition and the backbench is instructive in parliament to sensitize the public about the role of the BDF and also to drive home the point that the army is accountable to the National Assembly. Regrettably, the executive seems to be oblivious of this fact. It seems to regard the need for public accounting, especially when it has to do with the military as unpatriotic. Good recounts an incident in which Michael Dingake, former deputy leader of the BNF, asked the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration about the arms deal that government was negotiating with the Dutch government to purchase 54 German-made Leopard 1-V main battle tanks (1999:54). The Minister responded by saying that "it is not normal practice for any government to make public its military hardware procurement." Dingake was chastised for expecting the minister to release "sensitive information at the detriment of national security." The lack of openness of the BDF has led some to believe that it is not transparent in its procurement of vehicles and other supplies.31
The BDF sometimes uses its power and influence to manipulate civilian institutions to its favor. In 1996, when the budget allocation for the Office of the President--under which the BDF falls--was presented in parliament, more than 48 army officers trooped into the House. The officers, in full uniform, took up positions in the public gallery facing majority Members of Parliament. While it was their democratic right to do so, the coincidence that they should listen to the debate of their own bill, in full uniform, was viewed as intimidating by politicians.32
Grant and Egner observed that "it appears the BDF personnel have the impression that the army is entitled to a degree of immunity from the norms and controls under which the rest of the population lives" (1989:251). Due to the sensitivity of security information, a false impression was created that the army was not obliged to release any information about its operations and procurement of arms. On several occasions, the military has denied public access to Thebephatswa Air Base. During the term of Ian Khama Seretse Khama as commander of the BDF, the air base remained closed. However, Lieutenant General Louis Fisher recently indicated that the facility is accessible to the public. Over the years, there have been altercations between the Vice President, Lieutenant General Ian Khama, and the media. In typical army style, the commander did not take kindly to public scrutiny and did not see eye to eye with the press. He described the press as "irresponsible" and characterized the relationship between the BDF and private media as "a tug-of-war."33 An article by Titus Mbuya published in Mmegi about factionalism in the BDP provoked an outburst from the then army commander. The thrust of the article was that intra-party struggles, popularly known as the Merafe and Kwelagobe factions, had actually permeated the army to the extent that established promotion procedures were flaunted to advantage the Merafe faction which appeared to enjoy hegemonic influence. As reported in Good, Mbuya was cautioned by the Secretary General of the BDP, Daniel Kwelagobe, to always be careful about what they said about the army because it may undermine the country's stability (1999:52). As much as the press should be reminded that they must be responsible in their reporting and must make sure that they check their facts, it is worrying that the press is expected to practice self-censorship when it comes to military matters. As Moakofhi succinctly outlined, a complementary relationship should exist between the army and the press (1994:6). Instead of characterizing it as a tug-of-war, as the former commander of the BDF put it, it must be born in mind that "the military relies on the press to keep a finger on the pulse of public opinion." For its part, the press needs the "sanctuary of military security to prosper." It cannot be overemphasized that Botswana needs an open policy on matters of defense and national security. If information cannot be released even to parliamentarians who are the country's legislators, one wonders whether at the administrative level, financial auditing and accountability are able to break this cloak of secrecy.34
This article takes the view that the militarization of the state invariably leads to the strengthening of authoritarian rule and the erosion of democratic practices. As a developmental state, diamonds account for Botswana's capacity to engage in a massive military build up. Now as "development is inescapably political" to use Leftwich's expression, the political influence of the civilian government needs to gain primacy (1996:6). Therefore national security needs to be defined by taking a broad view that conceptualizes security in military terms as well as well as manifesting the territorial integrity of the polity. It would appear that the greatest threat that Botswana faces is not external aggression but internal insecurity. This threat is manifested not only in armed vigilantes but from scores of the unemployed and uneducated-problems which are exacerbated by poverty and crime. Therefore, national security issues, in addition to addressing defense matters, also needs to build up social security programs to ensure that people are free from hunger, disease and poverty. National security needs in Botswana have been perceived in terms of social justice and equitable distribution of resources. In a more pointed way, it should be concerned with the reduction of crime and violence (especially against women and children), the alleviation of hunger, poverty, and disease, the reduction of unemployment and provision of adequate shelter, all of which are constituent components of national security. All these bear consideration in the state's military and defense polity in Botswana.
But militarism is always a danger to national security. The Botswana government must refrain from excessive use of the military in police and civilian operations. Conflating the roles of the police and military tends to undermine the integrity and professionalism of the men in arms. Furthermore, there is a need for open debate on defense issues not only by parliament but also by the organ of civil society. In addition, the creation of a parliamentary committee on defense policy is overdue.
Finally, in order to build a free Southern Africa
region that does not face the specter of war and destabilization, there
is a need to build confidence and trust and a collective regional spirit
that defines security in terms of the well-being of all in the region.
Such confidence building can be founded on the establishment of a consultative
machinery consisting of regional defense chiefs with an eye toward building
mutual trust with respect to training, arms procurement, and deployment
of forces. The regional initiatives of operations Blue Hwange and Blue
Crane are indicative of the region's willingness to collectively resolve
Almond, G. and Powell, B. Comparative Politics: A Developmental Approach. Boston: Little Brow, 1978.
Aluko, O. and Shaw, T. (eds.) Southern Africa in the 1980s. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1985.
Anglin, D. "Peace Building and Defense Force Integration in South Africa," in David Black and Larry Swatuk (eds) Southern Africa and Africa After Apartheid: Security Issues. Dalhousie University: Center for Foreign Policy Studies, December (1996).
Black, D. "Security Issues in South Africa and Africa After Apartheid: Implications for Canadian Policy," in David Black And Larry Swatuk (eds.) Southern Africa and Africa After Apartheid: Security Issues. Dalhousie University: Center for Foreign Policy Studies, December (1996).
Chambers, R. Botswana's Accelerated Rural Development Programme 1973 - 76. Gaborone: Government Printer, 1977.
Cohen, B. and El-Khawas. The Kissinger Study of Southern Africa. Nottingham, 1975.
Dale, R. "Not Always So Placid a Place: Botswana Under Attack," African Affairs, Vol. 86:342 (1987).
Dale, R. "The Politics of National Security in Botswana: 1900-1990," Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Vol. 12:1 (1993).
Evans, P. B. Rueschemeyer, D. and Skocpol, T. (eds.) Bringing the State Back In. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
Fisher, L.M., Major General. "New Threats and
New Roles For the Military," Seminar on the 'Role of
Frazer, J. "Conceptualizing Civil-Military Relations During Democratic Transition," Africa Today, Vol. 42:1-2 (1995).
Good, K. "Interpreting the Exceptionality of Botswana," The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 30:1 (1992).
Good, K. "Authoritarian Liberalism: A Defining Characteristic of Botswana," Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Vol. 14:1 (1996).
Good, K. "Towards Popular Participation in Botswana," The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 34:1 (1996).
Good, K. "Realising Democracy in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa," Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa (1997).
Good, K. "Enduring Elite Democracy in Botswana," Democratization, Vol. 6:1 (1999).
Good, K. "Accountable to Themselves: Predominance in Southern Africa," The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 35:4 (1997).
Government of Botswana, Constitution of Botswana
Gaborone: Government Printer; Botswana Defence Force
Government of Botswana, Budget Speeches, 1996 - 2000, Gaborone: Government Printer.
Grant, S and Egner, B. "The Private Press and Democracy," in Molutsi and Holm (eds.) Democracy in Botswana. Gaborone: Macmillan Botswana Publishing Co., 1989.
Green, R., Kiljunan, M and Kiljunen, K. (eds.) Namibia: The Last Colony. London, Longman Group (1981).
Holm , J. "Development, Democracy and Civil Society in Botswana," (ed.) in Democracy and Development. Cambridge: Black Publishers, 1996.
Horace C. "Militarism and Democracy?" Southern Africa Political and Economic Monthly, 15 June - 15 July (1997).
Howe, H. 'The South African Defence Force and Political Reform,' The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 32:1 (1994).
Huntington, S. Political Order in Changing Societies, New Haven: Yale, University Press, 1968
Huntington, S. The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991.
Johasen, R. "Military Politics and the State System as Impediments to Democracy," Political Studies, Vol. XL (1997).
Kynoch, G. "The Transformation of the South African Military," The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 34:3 (1996).
Leftwich, A. "Bringing Back Politics in Towards a Model of the Developmental State," Journal of Development Studies, Vol. 31.
Magubane, B. (ed.) Whither South Africa? New Jersey: Africa World Press, Inc., 1988.
Malan, M. and Cilliers, J. "SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security: Future Development," Institute for Security Studies, No 19, March (1997).
Malan, M. "Preparing the New Partners for Peace in Southern Africa: New Partners in Peace: Towards a Southern African Peacekeeping Capacity," (ed.) Institute for Defence Policy Monograph Series No. 5, July (1996).
Mengisteab, K and Daddieh, C. "Why State Building is Still Relevant in Africa and How it Relates to Democratization," in K Mengisteab and C. Daddieh (eds.) State Building and Democratization in Africa: Faith, Hope and Realities. London: Praeger, 1999.
Mgadla, P and Campbell, A. "Dikgotla, Dikgosi and the Protectorate Administration," in Holm and Molutsi (eds.) Democracy in Botswana. Gaborone: Macmillan Botswana Publishing House, 1989.
Ministry of Agriculture, Botswana Agricultural Policy: Critical Sectoral Issues and Future Strategy for Development, Gaborone: Government Printer (1991).
Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, National Development Plan 8, Gaborone: Government Printer, 1997.
Ministry of Finance and Development, Budget Speech 2001, Gaborone: Government Printer, 2001.
Moakofhi, L. "The Army and Press Need Each Other," Mmegi, Vol. 11:34, August 26 - Sept 1 (1994).
Molomo and Mokopakgosi (ed.) Multi-Party Democracy in Botswana. Harare, 1991.
Molomo, M and Tsie, B. "Botswana's Security and Development Needs in the 1990s" in M. Sejanamane (ed.) From Destabilisation to Regional Cooperation in Southern Africa. Lesotho: Marija Printing Works, 1994.
Molomo, M. G. "External Military Intervention on Lesotho's Recent Political Crisis," Lesotho Social Science Review, Vol. 5:1 (1999).
Molomo, M. "Democracy Under Siege: The Presidency and Executive Powers in Botswana, Pula: Botswana," Journal of African Studies, Vol. 14: 1 (2000).
Molutsi, P. "Botswana: Khama's Agenda," Southern Africa Political and Economic Monthly, June 15 - July 15 (1997).
Monnakgotla, K. "From Ambivalence and Adversity
to Stability in Southern Africa,' in M. Malan (ed.) Institute for
Msahaba, I. and Shaw, T. (ed.) Confrontation and Liberation in Southern Africa. Boulder: West View Press, 1987.
Nathan, L. "Formalizing Conflict Resolution and Security Arrangements in Southern Africa: Contextual Considerations," in David Black and Larry Swatuk (eds.) Southern Africa and Africa After Apartheid: Security Issues. Dalhousie University: Center for Foreign Policy Studies (December 1996).
Niemann, M. "Diamonds are a State's Best Friend: Botswana's Foreign Policy in Southern Africa," Africa Today 1st Quarter (1993).
Nyelele, L. and Drake, D. The Raid on Gaborone: June 14 1985. Gaborone: Published by the Authors, 1986.
Othlogile, B. "The President: His Office, Function and Powers," in W. Edge and M. Lekorwe (eds.) Botswana: Politics and Society. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik Publishers, 1998.
Pereira, A. "The Neglected Tragedy," Journal of Modern African Studies (1994).
Poulantzas, N. Political Power and Social Classes. London: NLB and Sheed and Ward, 1973.
Rueschemeyer, D., Stephens, E. H and Stephens, J. D. Capitalist Development and Democracy, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1992.
Schlemmer, L. et. al. Present Realities and Strategies for the Future: Training Workshop for the Botswana Democratic Party. Gaborone, 1997.
Sullivan G.R. and Twomey, B. "The Challenges of Peace," Parameters, Vol. XXIV: 3 (1994).
Tordorff, W. Government and Politics in Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.
Turok, B. (ed.) Witness from the Frontline: Aggression and Resistance in Southern Africa. London: Institute of African Alternatives, 1990. p.57.
U.S Department of State: Botswana Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1996, Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1997.
1. In August
1994, a meeting of Presidents from the Southern African region resolved
to disband the Frontline States with the understanding that the body
had run its full course and needed to be replaced by a new body, the
Organ on Politics, Defense and Security. For details see Outsa Mokone,
"Frontline Grouping Disbanded," The Botswana Gazette 31 August
1994, p. 1.
2. In an interview on June 16, 1999, Mr. Samuel Outlule of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated that when South Africa and Botswana withdrew their forces from Lesotho, the Lesotho government asked them to reorganize, restructure, and train the Royal Lesotho Defense Force.
3. At the time Rhodesia was ruled
by the Rhodesia Front which had Unilaterally Declared Independence (UDI)
in 1965. Following the Lusaka manifesto of 1976 armed struggle intensified
in Rhodesia because of the intransigence of the white settler minority.
Inevitably, the war spilled into Botswana and the northeastern part
of the country was turned into a war zone making it uninhabitable for
the civilian population.
4. Richard Dale, "The Creation and Use of the Botswana Defense Force," in The Round Table Vol. 290 (1984), p. 220.
5. For details refer to Molomo
and Tsie, "Botswana's Security and Development Needs in the 1990s"
in M. Sejanamane, ed., From Destabilization to Regional Cooperation
in Southern Africa, Lesotho: Marija Printing Work, 1994. These raids
included the abduction of a Rhodesian refugee, Ethan Dube, in Francistown
in 1974, the hand grenade explosions in a Mophane nightclub in 1976
in which two civilians died and 81 were injured. South Africa also began
acts of aggression against Botswana's sovereignty. These began, among
others, with the assassination of Abram Onkgopotse Tiro in February
1974 by a parcel bomb at Kgale, eight kilometers south of Gaborone.
See also Libero Nyelele and Ellen Drake, The Raid on Gaborone: June
14 1985, Gaborone: published by the authors, 1986.
6. Thomas Nkoma, "The Thebephatswa Airbase Should Be Perceived as an Insurance Policy," Botswana Daily News, 24 October 1995, p. 5.
7. For details see Keto Segwai,
"Lt.-General Khama in Diplomatic Gaffe," Mmegi Vol. 13:16,
26 April 1996 p. 1.
8. Norman Chandler, "SANDF Must Be Ready For Any Eventuality, Say Kasrils," The Star 4 February 1999, p. 5.
9. Anthony Pereira, "The
Neglected Tragedy," in the Journal of Modern African Studies (1994)
p. 1. Kenneth Good. Realizing Democracy in Botswana, Namibia and South
Africa. Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa (1997) p. 1-34. Douglas
Anglin, "Peace Building and Defense Force Integration in South
Africa," in Southern Africa and Africa After Apartheid, David Black
and Larry Swatuk, eds., (December 1996), p. 21.
10. See Sechele Sechele, "Arms Build-Up Raises Eyebrows," in Mmegi, Vol. 13:14 12-18 April 1996, p. 1.
11. See William Tordorff. Government
and Politics in Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993,
12. "BDF to Get Tanks from
Austria," in Mmegi, Vol. 14:20, 30 May - 05 June 1997, p. 2. Botswana's
military build up seems to have spurred the same in Namibia. Namibia
signed a cooperation agreement with Russia, which involved the training
of the Namibia Defense Force and the servicing of military equipment
secured from them. For details see Sechele Sechele, "Germans Blocks
BDF Tanks," in Mmegi, Vol. 13:23 14-20 June 1996 p. 1.
13. Sedudu is an island along the Chobe River, which is claimed by Botswana and Namibia. Botswana maintains that the deepest channel of the river defines the boundary between the two countries. The two countries, having reached a stalemate in their discussions and negotiations, have taken the matter to the International Court in The Hague for arbitration.
14. The relations between Botswana
and Namibia, though cordial, have never been smooth since the claim
by both countries of Sedudu Island in the Chobe River. Following the
collapse of bilateral talks between the Presidents of the two countries
(Masire and Nujoma), Mugabe of Zimbabwe was also called in to mediate,
but all these efforts failed. The matter was referred to the International
Court of Justice at The Hague, which has since ruled in Botswana's favor.
The secessionist group led by Meshack Muyonga, who illegally entered
Botswana and sought political asylum, has not helped the uneasy relations
between the two countries.
15. It is variously reported that the BDF border patrol units have killed armed poachers in the Chobe area. This raises serious questions about the rule of law in Botswana. For details see Joseph Balise, "Namibian National Killed by the BDF," in The Midweek Sun 4 June 1997, p. 2. The decision by the Botswana Government to remove the BDF from roadblocks was in part a response to charges of alleged harassment of South African white tourists at roadblocks. In 1987, a British national was shot and killed at a roadblock in Francistown. For details see Richard Dale, "The Politics of National Security in Botswana," in Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Vol. 12:1 (1993), p. 45. These security firms include, among others, Way Guard Security, Security Systems, Automated Security, Coin Botswana, Security Express, Vanguard Security, Vigilantes Security, etc.
16. Government of Botswana,
Budget Speech, 1990-1999, Gaborone: Government Printer.
17. Militarism occurs as a result of an institutional structure that addresses civil-military relations and consequently causes the military to believe that they can perform better than the civilian government. For details see Richard Dale, "The Politics of National Security in Botswana," in Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Vol. 12:1 (1993), p. 45.
18. Joseph Balise, "BDF
Employs Sebinyana," in The Midweek Sun, March 3, 1997 p. 1. These
are some of the contradictions in which the military finds itself when
it does police type operations. A report by Ditshwanelo, Botswana Center
for Human Rights, has implicated the BDF in the use of torture tactics
in Botswana. This involves atrocious allegations of fastening victims
to the floor with nails, interrogating suspects at gunpoint, semi-drowning,
suffocating suspects, and twisting male genitals. For details see Outsa
Mokone, "Report Finds 'Torture' Practiced in Botswana," in
The Botswana Gazette 17 June 1998, p.7.
19. Yvonne Audierne, "Amnesty is Concerned About Human Rights in Botswana," in The Gazette, 18 June 1997, p. 11. According to the U.S Department of State: Botswana Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1996, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor on January 30, 1997, in February 1996 six members of the military intelligence unit of the BDF were implicated in the death of a man who died while under interrogation about stolen vehicles and computers. An alleged witness, who claims that he had also been assaulted, charges that he saw the officers suffocate the deceased with a plastic bag.
20. Douglas Anglin, "Peace
Building and Defense Force Integration in South Africa," in Southern
Africa and Africa After Apartheid (Eds.) David Black and Larry Swatuk
(December 1996) p.21.
21 . For detail see Molomo and Tsie, "Botswana"s Security and Development Needs in the 1990s" in Mafa Sejanamane, ed., From Destabilization to Regional Cooperation in Southern Africa? Lesotho: Institute of Southern African Studies, 1994 p. 138; Ben Turok (ed.) Witness from the Frontline: Aggression and Resistance in Southern Africa, London: Institute of African Alternatives, 1990 p. 57.
22. Binto Moroke's sister Lesego recounted the events leading to the death of her brother. She said about a dozen SSG police officers came to their house looking for Binto on the ill-fated morning at about 11.00 am. "When my brother came out of the house, six officers approached him and one of them asked him if he was Binto. Before he could say anything, the officers started beating and pushing him about. Binto tried to run into the house, but one officer tripped him and when he got up and tried to walk away, I heard one of them shout 'fireup.' A gun was fired and my brother was shot in the back and fell down." See Abraham Motsokono, "Police Loose Control," in The Gazette, 22 February 1995, p. 1-2. Following the State Presidents intervention the SSG intervened using lashes, tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition. In the process, Binto Moroke was killed in cold blood by the SSG. See Kenneth Good, "Towards Popular Participation in Botswana" in Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 34:1 (1996).
23. Bopa reporter, "Stop
Violence or Live to Regret it - Masire," in Daily News, 20 February
1995, p. 1.
24. In Soweto, African students were subjected to the notorious underfunding of the Bantu Education System (Gerhart, 1978). The uprising broke out when the students demonstrated against the use of Afrikaans, the language of the oppressors, as a medium for instruction for more than half the subjects in the school curriculum. In Mochudi, the students were concerned about the apparent failure of the justice system to apprehend the killers of Mogomotsi.
25. See Constitution of Botswana,
Gaborone: Government Printer and Botswana Defense Force Chapter 21:05,
Gaborone: Government Printer.
26. Outso Mokone, "Soldiers
Threaten 'civil war' Over Unpaid Claims" in The Botswana Gazette
March 5, 1997. The Commander of the BDF explains that they did not get
all their commuted allowances because part of the money was used to
pay for their meals. Commuted allowance is money paid to the soldiers
to compensate them when they are in the bush on various assignments
of the force. The issue of commuted allowances, particularly for the
junior officers, who feel that it augments their relatively low salaries
is quite a delicate matter. Even though the army commander does not
feel it amounts to a mutiny, it's a source of serious concern. Outso
Mokone, "Cabinet Briefed: Row Over Soldiers' Allowances Grows,"
in The Botswana Gazette March 12, 1997, p. 2. Despite assurances by
the army commander that the issue is only confined to a small group
of disgruntled ex-soldiers and does not amount to a mutiny, there is
a general feeling that the disaffection is generally spread throughout
the army and is a source of low morale in the junior officers. The issue
is said to have been festering over the years. BDF Press Release, BDF
refutes Gazette's "Cabinet was Briefed" Story," The Botswana
Guardian March 14, 1997 p. 1-2. The BDF, while it does not deny the
substance of the report regarding commuted allowances, expressed surprise
at the contradictions in the article which attempts to give the impression
that there was a row within its ranks.
27. Sebetela, the member of parliament for Palapye constituency, wrote a hard-hitting letter to Ian Khama, Vice President and Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, protesting against the cabinet decision to send Botswana Defense Force soldiers to Lesotho without the knowledge of the members of parliament. He warned that when the executive became so powerful that it even took the legislature for granted, then there was cause for concern for the future of direct and participatory democracy. That power, he lamented, ran against the nation's efforts to build a consultative, transparent and accountable society. For details see Staff Writer, "Sebetela Takes Khama to Task," in Mmegi, 09-15 October 1998, p. 1.
28. Khama's involvement in politics
was evident even before he formerly joined it in 1998. On the occasion
of the installation of Kgosi Tawana II, Lieutenant General Ian Khama
who is also Paramount Chief of Bangwato, said, "There are forces
at work in this country that seek to want to breakdown our achievements
since independence. Forces that emanate from a type of leadership, tribal
or otherwise that for selfish reasons, or reasons of tribal bias seek
to promote themselves or their tribal groupings into prominence over
others. The backbiting, finger pointing and foul mouthing that goes
on in this country today is an indication of a society that is coming
apart. We live in a time when jealousy of one another is going to self-destruct
our nation." For details see Joel Sebonego, "Army Commander
Issues Warning," in The Midweek Sun, 5 July 1995, p.1.
29. See Kenneth Good, "Authoritarian Liberalism: A Defining Characteristic of Botswana," in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Vol. 14: (1996), pp. 29-51. See Kenneth Good, Realising Democracy in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa (1997) pp. 136.
30. Staff writer, "BDF
Chases Away Auditors," in Mmegi Vol. 12:20 26 May -1 June 1995,
31. There were allegations from the media that the BDF was run as a family business. The substance of these allegations were that the BDF bought some of its equipment from a company called Seleka Springs whose directors are Messers Tshekedi and Antony Khama - brothers to the Vice President and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Ian Khama, the then Commander of the BDF. The assertion further pointed out that the BDF buys vehicles from Lobatse Delta, which is also under the directorship of the Khama twins. Another company linked to the Khama family is Hot Bread (Pty) Ltd., from which the BDF buys its supply of bread for trainees and soldiers in the Kasane area. The wife of former BDF Director of Personnel, Ndelu Seretse, runs Hot Bread. Responding to these allegations, the BDF public relations officer Captain Mogorosi Baatweng said they were outrageous and baseless as the parties implicated declared their interests. Besides, the procurement of supplies complies with tender board procedures. For details, see Outsa Mokone, "The BDF is Not Being Run as a Family Business," in The Gazette, 21 May 1997, p. 2.
32. Keto Segwai, "BDF Presence
Intimidating MPs," in Mmegi Vol. 13:9 8-15 March 1996, p. 4.
33. For details see Titus Mbuya, "BDP Split Shakes Army," in Mmegi 29 July 1994, p. 1. In similar vein, former President Sir Ketumile Masire, acting in the heat of passion, confronted the assistant editor of the Gazette, Outsa Mokone, and said, "all the things you write about me are utter rubbish, you are making this country ungovernable, you must stop writing lies about me." For detail see Staff Reporter, "Masire Confronts Reporter," in The Gazette, 22 February 1995, p. 1.
34. See Kenneth Good, Realizing Democracy in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa (1997) p. 136.
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).
Style: The following is the suggested
format for referencing this article:
|Home | Current Issue | Previous Issues | Submission Guidelines | Books for Review|