Botswana

Two stories involving the San in southern Africa over the past few weeks have highlighted two issues – that the rights of the San continue to be routinely violated and that the Namibian authorities are more concerned about this (or at least about publicity around it) than their peers across the border in Botswana.

As southern Africa’s leaders lined up to congratulate President Mugabe on his unbelievably crushing victory in Zimbabwe’s elections, it seemed as if the region was once again putting pals before people – siding with aged liberation leaders rather than letting the voters choose. Zuma was very quick off the mark with his ‘profound congratulations’, while Angola’s dos Santos and Namibia’s Pohamba swiftly followed suit.

Sometimes despair seems to be the only response – despair that in 2013, a government can be pushing ahead with a massive plan to produce natural gas without telling the public. Despair that after all the rhetoric about transparency and accountability in the mining sector – a government has been granting concessions to vast tracts of land, including in world famous national parks, without bothering to inform, let along consult, local communities.

In the 2009 elections, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) of President Ian Khama won the majority of seats in parliament – and maintained its perfect record in post-independence elections. So while Botswana is the oldest democracy in southern Africa, it has never actually experienced life under any other party and there are few indications that this situation is likely to change in the next elections.

President Khama’s government has come in for quite a lot of criticism on this website over recent months for its secretive dash for gas and its treatment of Botswana’s San communities.

Botswana's President, Ian Khama, is different to his fellow SADC leaders in many ways. He is the son of his country's founding president. He is at least a decade younger than most of them (leaving aside Swaziland' King Mswati and the coup-leading DJ in Madagascar). And he's never been married (but then Mswati and Zuma make up for that).

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