Thursday, February 26, 2009

Press Release (2): Re: Afrobarometer - Batswana Satisfied with their Democratic Institutions, Rule of Law; Majority of Batswana reject ...

source: Republic of Botswana (23/2/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 4 of 2009
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President "Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"

C2) 23/2/09: Press Release (2): Re: Afrobarometer - Batswana Satisfied with their Democratic Institutions, Rule of Law; Majority of Batswana reject direct election of President, public funding of political parties.

The recently released 2008 Afrobarometer Survey has revealed high levels of satisfaction among Botswana citizens in the state of their democracy and governing institutions.

Personal & Political Freedom

Asked how much of a democracy is Botswana today, 91% of the respondents expressed satisfaction, with 56% describing the country as a full democracy, while 35% said it was "a democracy, but with minor problems." Only 1% said Botswana is not a democracy.

Asked how satisfied they were with the way democracy works in Botswana 82% said that they were either very satisfied (44%) or fairly satisfied (38%).

With respect to their own sense of empowerment, 83% of Batswana described themselves as "completely free", while only 6% characterised themselves as not very free or not free at all.

92% of Batswana said they felt completely free to join any political organisations, while 94% said they were free to choose who to vote for without feeling pressured.

73% of the survey agreed that the last, 2004, national election had been completely free and fair, while 13% said that it had been free and fair but with minor problems. Only 3% claimed that the election had not been free and fair.

66% said that the electoral process worked either well or very well in ensuring that Parliament reflected the will of the voters. Similarly 70% said elections enabled voters to remove office holders who do not do what the people want.

With respect to the integrity of the electoral process, 70% expressed some or a lot of trust in the IEC, while only 9% expressed no trust in the institution.

82% of Batswana said they had no fear at all of becoming a victim of political intimidation, while 83% said it was very unlikely or not at all likely that powerful people could find out how they voted.

The above Afrobarometer election findings are consistent with that of a 2008 Gallup public opinion poll in which Botswana was ranked number two among 134 surveyed countries in the world in term of public confidence in the integrity of elections.

The President and Parliament

Asked "do you approve or disapprove of the way President Ian Khama has performed his job since taking Office in April 2008?" a total of 88% said they approved, while only 8% said they disapproved of the President's performance. The President's domestic approval rating in this respect is the highest known figure of any current head of government.

President Khama's approval rating is, moreover, consistent with his 76% public trust rating.

77% of the public further stated that the President never ignores the laws of the country, while only 5% said he often or always ignored the law.

With respect to the question of the use of an election for the Presidency versus the automatic succession of the Vice President, 57% of respondents agreed with the statement that "the current practice where the Vice President automatically succeeds the President must be retained"; while 42% agreed that the system should be changed to allow the election of a successor.

Asked if the current system where Parliament chooses the President should be changed to allow the direct election of the President or retained, 58% supported the status quo, while 41% favoured direct presidential election.

According to the Survey if a Presidential election was held 69% of the public would vote for the BDP leader (Khama), compared to 13% for the leader of the BNF (Moupo) and 8% for the leader of the BCP (G. Saleshando).

Members of Parliament came out less well in the Survey, with only 45% of respondents expressing both confidence and trust in their MP, while 50% expressed disapproved.

67% said that Members of Parliament only sometimes or never listened to what people had to say.

Asked who should be responsible for making sure that, once elected, Members of Parliament did their jobs, 42% said the voters, 36% said the President, and 15% said Parliament or local councils, while only 3% said their political party.


88% of all respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that: "The kgotla system is part of our culture and helps strengthen our democracy; it should be retained as a forum for public consultations."

Rule of Law

Batswana also showed strong faith in their legal system and law enforcement agencies.

76% of the respondents agreed that people were rarely or never treated unequally under the law. Consistent with Botswana's commitment to zero tolerance for crime 73% agreed that officials who commit crimes would either never (56%) or only rarely (17%) go unpunished.

72% of Batswana expressed trust in both the courts and police service. With respect to Magistrates and Judges 68% believed that few or none were involved in corruption, with another 24% saying they were not sure.

93% of Batswana said they had never paid a bribe or given a gift to government officials to get a document or permit, while 92% said the same with respect to their dealings with the police.

Political parties

With respect to confidence in political parties 49% of the respondents expressed a lot, and 25% some trust in the ruling party (BDP), for a composite figure of 74%, with 11% expressing mistrust.

On the other hand only 13% of the public expressed a lot and 17% some, trust in the opposition parties, with 68% expressing little or no trust in the opposition.

78% of the respondents said that they felt close to a particular political party. Among these 55% identified themselves as supporters of the BDP, 14% as supporters of the BNF, 7% as supporters of the BCP and 1% each for BAM and BPP.

Asked about the funding of political parties 53% agreed that political parties should be responsible for raising their own funds from their supporters, while 41% believed that they should be publicly funded to put all parties on an equal footing.

Service Delivery

In terms of service delivery 76% of the public said that Government was doing well or fairly well handling the economy, 75% in reducing crime, 80% in providing Health Services, 84% in providing education, 95% in combating HIV/AIDS, 72% in providing water and sanitation, 69% in fighting corruption, 66% in providing electricity 58% in maintaining roads and bridges and 60% in improving the living standards of the poor.

On the opposite end, however, 66% believed that Government was not doing enough to create jobs, and 88% believed more should be done to control prices.

In terms of gender relations, 77% of the public, both male and female, believed that Government was doing well or very well in empowering women.

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