The Future for Botswana-Namibia Ties

Botswana is looking to Namibia to strengthen ties between the two countries. Former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae, called on Namibia to develop stronger trade relations with each other. Mogae is hoping to strengthen the economies of countries in Southern Africa and is eventually hoping to extend this effort to more countries, such as Zambia and Zimbabwe. By creating better trade relations with smaller countries, Mogae looks to cut over reliance on imports from South Africa and to create better economic opportunities for southern African countries.





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End of Botswana-North Korea Relations

Ian Khama, President of Botswana

Ian Khama, President of Botswana

After forty years of diplomatic relations, Botswana has ended diplomatic relations with North Korea. Botswana made the decision to cut ties after the United Nations released a report on crimes against humanity taking place in North Korea. The foreign ministry of Botswana released a statement expressing sympathies to North Korean citizens facing human rights violations. North Korea has yet to make a statement in response to the ended diplomatic relationship.


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Kalahari Bushmen of Botswana Continue to Have Their Rights Denied

“Children have been arrested by paramilitary police which are signs of a new government policy to intimidate Bushmen who have returned to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.”Photo: Survival International

The Bushmen of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) in Botswana have been fighting for their right to return to their native ancestral land which they were evicted from in 2002. Bushmen over the age of 16 are required to apply for a one-month access permit in order to enter the reserve. British attorney Gordon Bennett won a case in 2006 that gave the Bushman the right to enter the reserve without a permit; however, the government of Botswana has continued to enforce the permit policy.

The fight for the Kalahari Bushmen to return to their ancestral land has been renewed and the government of Botswana has decided to prevent Mr. Bennett from entering the country to represent the group. He was put on a ‘visa list’ following a hearing in June which prevented the eviction of the Bushman community of Ranyane. Bennett has won three separate victories for the Bushmen community granting them rights to enter ancestral land as well as to drill water boreholes after the government attempted to stop them from doing so.
While commenting on the situation, Mr Bennett said that “The right to a fair trial normally includes the right to be represented by counsel of your choice. Not in Botswana, apparently – or at least not if you sue the Government.” The Bushman previously evicted in 2002 return to court on Monday, July 29 2013 in order to gain free access to the CKGR. Due to the Government’s refusal to allow Mr. Bennett from entering the country to defend the Bushman in court, they will be forced to make their argument and defend their rights on their own.

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Botswana Says “No” to China

President Ian Khama

President Ian Khama

After a series of bad investment experiences with Chinese firms Botswana’s president, Ian Khama, has stated that his country may no longer award government contracts to the fast-rising economic powerhouse. At the very least, Gaborone will be much more selective in granting infrastructure projects, especially those on which Chinese companies have placed bids.

Botswana’s harsh criticism of what it believes to be China’s sub-standard building practices is notable, given Chinese investor’s rapidly expanding presence in Africa. Additionally, this may also be viewed as an expression of growing dissatisfaction with China’s presence on the continent. Its investment activities were originally billed as a more equal partnership than what had historically been the case with the West. However, many in Africa, governments included, feel that China is more interested in access to raw materials at low prices than supporting genuine development in those countries where it maintains a presence.

Khama said that, were it not for delays and problems with Chinese-constructed power plants that we would “be totally self-sufficient if we hadn’t been let down by the Chinese.” The Chinese embassy in Gaborone did not respond to a request for a response to these recent allegations. It is important to note, though, that in 2009 when Khama became president relations with China were strong and it was involved in eighteen construction projects in the country. The future ability of Chinese investors to win contracts in Botswana will be played out in negotiations over which firms come out on top in the bidding negotiations for rights to build railways to transport Botswana’s untapped coal reserves to ports in Namibia and Mozambique.
It remains to be seen whether the criticisms Khama has voiced will become more common or whether Chinese growing economic clout will discourage other leaders from criticizing the fast-rising giant.


IMF Upgrades Botswana’s Growth Forecast

The IMF’s World Economic Outlook (WEO), released on 9 October 2012, projects that Botswana’s real GDP will grow by 3.8 per cent this year; this is an increase from April’s WEO, which predicted 3.3 per cent growth. The October WEO expects inflation in the range of 7.5 per cent and the 2012 current account balance to be a positive 3.9 per cent of GDP, reflecting strong exports of goods and services.

However, the WEO also reported several threats to Botswana’s continued economic growth. Through trade, the economy is strongly linked to South Africa, which provides over 70 per cent of the country’s goods. This is problematic for Botswana due to South Africa’s close ties with the crisis-ridden Euro area.

Furthermore, the IMF reported that the risk of higher food prices to net food importers like Botswana would erode savings the national and local levels. Finally, the IMF warned that a prolonged slowdown in China   – a major market for Botswana’s copper, nickel and coal – could adversely affect GDP and employment figures.

To avoid unnecessary damage to the domestic economy the IMF recommends that Botswana continue strengthening policy buffers and preparing contingency plans to deal with any economic downturn.

On a positive note the Pula Fund, one of the country’s key sources of protection from external market shocks, has made strong gains following its precipitous decline during the global recession, recovering from P43.5 billion at the end of 2009 to P55.6 billion in July 2012.