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Office of the President (OP)
Inside the Presidency-Issue No 16 of 2011

"Botswana is rightly regarded as the great success story of post-independence Africa" - Throup Report

The week that was

During the past week, H.E. the President, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, presided over two meetings of Cabinet, his party's Central Committee and briefings by the Ministries of Agriculture and Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Discussions with Agriculture focused on ongoing progress in bringing Foot & Mouth Disease under control and reopening BMC access to the EU market. With respect to arable production, it is notable that the total area planted in 2010/11 is 11% greater than the previous season.

Yesterday, the President addressed dikgotla and greeted the residents of Mmokolodi, Gabane, Metsimotlhabe and Mmopane in the Kweneng South East Constituency.

In Parliament the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, the Hon. Mokgweetsi Masisi, responded to Members questions on the use of the National Anthem, voter qualification and overseas voter registration.

As previously reported, last week OP participated in the annual Botswana Consumer Fair. This week we are pleased to report that the Department of Information Services scooped position one in the media category at the Fair's Prize Giving, while Broadcasting Services achieved third position in the same category.                                                          

The Throup Report

Last Friday a statement of concern was issued over series of articles published in a local newspaper, which falsely claimed to be based on an AFRICOM (US military) compiled intelligence report.

The freely available report - "Botswana: Assessing Risks to Stability" - is not an official, much less intelligence report. It is rather one of a series of ten academic studies, which were published online at the time of their release by CSIS, a Washington D.C. based NGO. As the USA embassy has confirmed, the American military's only link to the report was its sponsorship of the CSIS study series.

As CSIS itself further states "all views expressed in the report are solely those of its author", a British academic named Dr. David Throup

In the context the 18 page report's focus as a risk assessment on speculative academic projections of "worst case scenarios", we are encouraged by the study's many accolades, more especially its positive conclusion. Taken as a whole, Throup's final analysis is clearly inconsistent with some of the interpretations that have appeared in the media, making one wonder whether a few of those who have embraced the report have actually bothered to read it.

For our readers benefit, reproduced below is the entire text of the Throup's conclusion:

"Botswana is quite unlike any other African state. It is essentially a rentier state that is dependent on its mineral wealth. But unlike most African rentier states, its revenue from diamonds has been well spent on improving the road network, providing schools and health clinics, boreholes and barbed wire, and an extensive network of social services and short-term employment-generating activities.

""GDP per capita is now 100 times higher than it was at independence. This is a real achievement. An arid, poverty stricken, landlocked state has been turned into one of the wealthiest societies on the African continent.

"Moreover Botswana is a true nation, endowed with a strong sense of pride in its achievements, rather than a state without political legitimacy. By virtually any criteria, Botswana has been well ruled for the past 45 years. Democracy and open political debate are firmly entrenched and defended, and it is not riven by ethnic or sectarian cleavages.

"In comparison with other countries in this study, this places Botswana in a fortunate circumstance. Under normal circumstances, few indicators suggest that the current development strategy will not work for the next 10 years. Growth will continue.

"Botswana is widely regarded as a model for the continent. It will not implode or even face serious problems. There are few politically and virtually no ethnic pressures posing serious challenge within that time frame. But over a longer period, Botswana will have to grapple with serious social difficulties and make fundamental economic decisions.

"The tried-and-tested development paradigm is coming to an end of its utility. A new, micro-economic, job-generating approach is essential. Without it, disaster lies ahead, but not until the 2020s or 2030s or, if Botswana is lucky, the 2040s - and by then the world will have been transformed and the day of reckoning may never come."

Given the above, it is unfortunate that some media practitioners appear eager to drag others down through their sensationalised and misleading reporting, such as the blatant mischaracterization of both the nature and conclusions of Dr. Throup's risk analysis.

Such criticism should not be misconstrued to imply that this office fails to appreciate the contributions of a free press in a free society such as ours. As the President recently observed:

"Contrary to what some may assume, we appreciate the fact that the news media is a watchdog for our own good governance. They certainly do keep us informed and on our toes. However, when they become irresponsible, unbalanced or misleading they can cause damage to the reputation of our country as a whole as well as their own credibility."


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