AN EVALUATION OF PRESIDENT SERETSE KHAMA IAN KHAMA’s TENURE
AS THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF BOTSWANA THIS FAR
Postal Address: P.O. Box 2918, Gaborone
President Ian KhamaSeretseKhama has been in charge of the highest office in the land for 5 years. It
is opportune for the country to reflect on the 5 years of theKhama Presidency and reflect on the
impact his leadership has had on the country. As a political party, the Botswana Congress Party has
a key interest in the political developments and therefore wishes to present its own assessment of
the Khama presidency. We must however point out from the outset that we do not share a similar
outlook with President Khama and the party he represents. Our values and convictions are different
and hence our priorities are not aligned. It will therefore be fair that in our assessment, we first and
foremost evaluate the extent to which he has attained the goals that he had set out to achieve when
he assumed office.
Promises made through Inaugural Speech
In his inaugural address of 1 April 2008, President Khama stated that areas that need special
emphasis are employment creation and poverty alleviation, programmes for the youth, health,
housing and the fight against crime. He further went on to announce that his roadmap for the
nation will be underpinned by the principles of Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline.
There was later an addition of Delivery to the 4D’s.
Now that we have experienced the 5D’s for a period of 5 years, have we seen an impact on the
issues that the President said were a priority?
On job creation, the President has chosen to place emphasis on temporary poor quality jobs in the
form of Ipelegeng. While labour intensive public works to alleviate the economic desperation faced
by the poor in accepted globally, it is never regarded as a job creation scheme. President Khama
through his various State of the Nation addresses refers to Ipelegeng statistics to give an indication
of the extent to which his government has created jobs. At paragraph 28 of the 2009 state of the
Nation Address, President Khama in reference to Ipelegeng stated that; “Since its inception in 2008,
the estimated monthly employment created through Ipelegeng has averaged 38,000 for the entire
country.” Subsequent addresses also refer to the Ipelegeng figures as prove of job creation.
President Khama has failed to tap on the opportunities that are presented by the mineral wealth of
Botswana to create good quality jobs in the processing of our mineral products such as gold, soda
ash, copper, nickel as well as diamonds. There is no developed leather industry in Botswana,
notwithstanding the fact that the country has a high population of cattle. The narrow assumption
that Ipelegeng can be the main generator of jobs for the country while we export high quality jobs
through our unprocessed products is a shame! Unemployment and underemployment remain high,
particularly for the youth who are the most highly educated generation that this country has had
Botswana is presently facing a housing crisis. The Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) is not able to
meet the demand for houses at affordable prices. The low cost houses are not affordable for young
professionals to rent or buy at the current government pay scales. The waiting period for SHHA
houses is in excess of 20 years for most parts of the country. Land allocation for development of
residential houses in urban and peri‐urban locations is unable to meet the demand levels. There is
no plan to address the housing gap that exists in the market. As the crisis escalates on an annual
basis, the Presidents focus is on securing houses from donors that he can allocate to the growing
base of destitute persons. While acts of compassion for the less privileged who cannot afford to
construct their own shelter will always be welcome, the Presidency should not make this its focus
but rather work towards formulating policies that will promote equitable distribution of land.
For a President who preached dignity at the time of assuming office, it is surprising that the inability
of the poor to secure housing through available channels for destitute housing have been used as a
popularity booster for the President. The poor recipients of the houses are paraded on national
television and the Daily News in a manner that does not enhance their dignity. When it is
convenient, President Khama is known to quote verses from the bible, but opportunities that allow
him to project himself as a Messiah are more important than what the bible states about giving to
the poor. Matthew 6 verses 1 to 4 states that “Beware of practising your righteousness before
other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who
is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites
do in the synagouges and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you,
they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know
what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in
secret will reward you.” Unfortunately, some in the religious community are actively promoting this
conduct by the President.
Our democracy has stagnated. Various international election observers who observed the 2009
general election concluded that our elections are free but not fair. A number of proposals that have
been made by the observers as well as the IEC audit report have been ignored. There is no public
funding of political parties while Khama and his party continue to use state resources for the benefit
of their party. The state media continues to favour the ruling party during campaign periods. When
President Khama realised that population growth has been predominantly in locations where the
BDP does not enjoy strong support, he cunningly manoeuvred to trigger the delimitation process in a
manner that made it impossible to increase the number of constituencies. A democracy that is not
nourished and strengthened over time loses its value and soundness and ultimately becomes
irrelevant to the wishes and aspirations of the population.
After the 2009 general elections President Khama promised to address problems of delivery that are
common in the public sector. It must be noted that whilst he was the Vice President, he was the first
holder of such office to be absolved from holding any ministerial portfolio and was to focus on
timeous delivery of projects. While he was Vice President there was never any turnaround strategy
to address problems of late completion of projects. Under his Presidency, hardly any project has
been completed within time or budget. The dams, airports, stadia and Morupule B power station
are some of the biggest public projects in the history of the country. The stadia and airports were
expected to be completed by 2010 so that the country could benefit from the spill over of the 2010
world cup in South Africa. Not one of those projects was completed in time and the projects remain
incomplete 3 years after the world cup.
Promises made through State of Nation Addresses
In the 5 years as President, General Khama has made a number of promises to the nation through
the annual state of the nation addresses. He has made no attempt to fulfil a number of the
promises he has made. For him, there is no need to deliver on promises made to the nation as he
does not see the need to account to the public. Below are some of the promises he made but never
fulfilled in the first three speeches since assuming office;
• 2008 Speech
1. (paragraph 45) he promised to introduce a contributory insurance scheme for the
agricultural sector to make it easy for farmers to access loans. The scheme is not in place.
2. (paragraph 48) he promised a reform of the Central Medical Stores to do away with cases of
drugs expiring before being delivered to health facilities. In 2011/2012, central medical
stores had to destroy expired drugs with a market value of P 116 million while many facilities
did not have adequate drugs.
3. (paragraph 51) he promised a policy that will assist those requiring organ transplants and
specialised therapies. No such policy is in place.
4. (paragraph 57) he promised that to ensure discipline among the teachers, the Teaching
Council will be introduced through legislation. There is no teaching council in place.
5. (paragraph 59) he promised to allow ex‐convicts to use prison facilities for training and
raising seed capital for self‐employment as a way of promoting rehabilitation. Not a single
ex‐prisoner has been enrolled for such a program.
6. (paragraph 67) he promised that government will pay allowances to players of the Premier
League as well as first division north and south. Not a single player has received such as
7. (paragraph 89) he promised a new Instalment Purchase Scheme administered by the BHC to
provide affordable housing to citizens. There is no such scheme in place.
8. (paragraph 94) he promised to roll out a Zero Tolerance for Potholes Initiative. Botswana
roads are possibly in their worst state of disrepair.
• 2009 Speech
9. (paragraph 16) he promised that abuse by the security forces will be investigated in an
impartial manner and the law shall take its course. When the Kalafatis murderers were
convicted he freed them and ordered their re‐employment by the BDF.
10. (paragraph 116) he announced that he has instructed the minister of Lands and Housing to
come up with solutions for the housing of public officers. Housing of public officers remains
an unresolved problem.
11. (paragraph 130) he announced a new housing scheme that will include high density and
multi‐residential houses for the youth and first time home owners. Not a single housing
complex for the youth has been availed.
• 2010 Speech
12. (paragraph 132) promised that the privatization of BTC and selling of shares to citizens will
be completed by April 2011. BTC remains wholly owned by government
13. (paragraph 153) he promised to develop a decentralization policy to develop local
governance and take services closer to the people. The policy is not in place and
government has pursued centralization as its strategy.
There are more promises that have been made by Khama through various speeches as well as during
kgotla meetings that have not been fulfilled. The President is aware that Batswana, in their
abundant optimism and hope for the future, are not likely to hold him accountable for the many
false promises he has made. As Batswana always say in moments of disappointment, “go
tlaasiama,” this allows President Khama off the hook. They will continue to hope that the promises
of the President will somehow come to pass, but before they know it, he will be a retired President
enjoying the benefits of a retired President when he did not achieve much as a President
State of Botswana after 5 years of Khama
Five years after President Khama assumed office our country is in a sad state. For the first time after
independence, the younger generation is getting a taste of how life must have been during the
colonial era and in the early days of our independence. Basic supply of water is not guaranteed and
many have to travel long distances to get a bath, notwithstanding the fact that the country has
invested huge amounts in building dams. Power supply is also not assured, even though the country
has paid a 11 billion pula invoice to put up a power supply station. We continue to cross our fingers
that our neighbours will come to our rescue with the supply of both water and electricity.
Corruption is on the increase and those accused of corruption no longer pay any price for attracting
the attention of the government investigative bodies. Unlike in the past, it is becoming fashionable
to simultaneously use the titles Accused Number 1 and Honourable Minister of government. There
is no shame in being read out a charge sheet of how one has looted the public coffers. Major
parastatals such as Botswana Development Corporation and Botswana Meat Commission are
wrought with evidence of corruption and no one is responsible for the mess. The President has not
seen the need to come up with the Whistle Blowing Legislation that he promised in the 2011 state of
the nation address (paragraph 24) to try and combat corruption. Calls for a disclosure of assets by
the national leadership continue to be ignored by the Khama government.
Over the 5 years, the quality of our education has plummeted. Throughout the 5 years the quality of
the results of public schools has deteriorated. The country has recorded the worst ever results for
primary, junior secondary and senior secondary level. Even though the Minister of Education tried
to suggest that the form 5 results released this year show some improvement, the reality is that not
a single senior secondary school has recorded a pass rate of over 50%. The dream of an educated
and informed nation by the year 2016 is clearly not attainable under the current political leadership.
Our health system has not been spared from the free fall. Most health facilities operate without the
optimal number of trained medical personnel while the government has decided to dismiss a
number of nurses and doctors following the industrial action of 2011. A number of health facilities
are in a state of disrepair and operate with inadequate transport since the decision to centralise
health services under the Ministry of Health.
Relations between the labour movement and the government have been polluted and are not in any
way likely to assist in improving the productivity of our labour force. President Khama has adopted a
highly confrontational attitude in dealing with the labour movement and has generally disregarded
the need for dialogue in favour of ultimatums to the union leadership. There is no genuine
bargaining process as the government position is often presented to the unions as an ultimatum.
Public confidence in the judiciary, particularly the court of appeal, is at its lowest. The process of
appointing judges to both the high court and the court of appeal is not insulated against undue
political influence as it is dominated by appointees of the President. The court of appeal has
become the defender of the Presidential interests.
We have seen a systematic militarization of the public service. The President associates from the
military have been deployed to various sections of the public service to tighten the military grip over
public institutions. The culture of directives has replaced the time tested consultative process. The
Presidents word has become the law in terms of public expenditure as millions of public funds are
diverted to the Presidential pet projects. Funds earmarked for disaster have found their way into
the coffers of the Intelligence Services.
The catch phrase “extra judicial killings” which was foreign to our local vocabulary has become part
of our lives in the last 5 years. As already stated, those found guilty of operating above the law
within the security services enjoy special Presidential protection. Deportations of foreign nationals
without trial has become the way of life in Botswna.
Expenditure for military and intelligence services has been prioritised over all other national
priorities. A comparative analysis shows that under the NDP 10, the Directorate of Intelligence
Services has already spent over 97% of their provision of the development budget while the
Botswana Police is at 11% as most projects have been suspended due to the unfavourable financial
climate. World Bank reports show that Botswana is one of the high spenders on the military relative
to its size of GDP, spending much more than some of the developed countries. This has
compromised the ability of the country to make the necessary strides that some countries in the
region have made in the improvement of the lives of the ordinary people.
The latest Human Development Report of the UNDP shows that the human development index (a
measure of 3 basic dimensions of human development, a long and healthy life, knowledge and a
decent standard of living) for Botswana has stagnated over the last 5 years. Countries that used to
compare favourably with Botswana such as Mauritius have now surpassed us.
On the international scene President Khama has chosen to absent himself and ignore the
responsibilities that come with the office he holds. He has shunned important meetings of regional,
continental and international meetings. He has not attended a single summit of the African Union
and has also stayed away from the United Nations meetings. In his 2008 state of the nation address
he had cautioned that Botswana will have to play its part in the international community, as the
price of remaining aloof is prohibitive. On the contrary, Botswana has remained aloof and the
President attaches greater value to unending walk abouts and kgotla meetings that he started in
1998 to familiarise himself with the lives that Batswana lead. After 15 years, his priority is still to try
and understand Batswana’s way of life.
As we warned in our 2009 manifesto, Botswana was indeed at cross roads. Our democracy and
human rights track record have deteriorated. The economy is clearly headed for collapse. The global
economic downturn is used as an excuse for failure to come up with imaginative strategies to create
jobs for Batswana. President Khama has fully demonstrated in a period of 5 years that he does not
have what it takes to occupy the high office of President. His priority of doling out gifts to the needy
is enviable, but it is not what is needed to propel Botswana to the next level of development.
The Botswana Congress Party will continue to appeal to Batswana to save the situation and vote for
a party with the best plan to secure a more prosperous future for the nation. Our 2014 election
manifesto, which will be launched in the current year, will present clear alternatives to the moribund
BDP and offer Batswana a fresh start in seeking a better quality of life with equal opportunities for