Political Science 201 Assignment 1
“Discuss the extent to which Botswana is a developmental state.”
Table of contents
| Brief background
| Characteristics of a developmental state3.1 Development –orientated political leadership3.2 An autonomous and effective bureaucracy3.3 The economy3.4 Performance‐oriented governance3.5 Production‐Oriented Private Sector
Botswana is considered as ‘The Miracle’ of Africa as it started out as one of the poorest countries at the time of its independence and now it is known as the country with one of the highest/fastest growth rate figures in the world, therefore this is one of the reasons it is considered a developmental country (Hopkins 1995).” W. A. Edge simply defines the state as “one in which the state is the primary agent of socio-economic change and actively organises and directs it.” Referring specifically to Africa Mkandawire (1998:2) defines a developmental state as “one whose ideological underpinnings are developmental and one that seriously attempts to deploy its administrative and political resources to the task of economic development. This essay will briefly look at Botswana’s background and also seeks to point out as to what degree is Botswana a developmental state by looking into the factors that would classify it as one, from the year of independence till today. Such factors would include: development‐oriented political leadership; an autonomous and effective bureaucracy; the economy, performance‐oriented governance, and production-oriented private sector.
2. Brief Background
When Botswana gained political independence in 1966 from the British colony, the country seemed an unlikely contender to become a successful developmental state. It was one of the poorest countries in Africa, its vast territory consisted largely of semi‐arid desert land, its small population (only approx. 600,000 at the time) represented a population density of 1 person per square km, and it was a landlocked country surrounded by hostile white settler‐dominated neighbours (South Africa, South West Africa/Namibia, and Rhodesia/Zimbabwe) Peter Meyns et al. (2010:42). Its situation was suitably summarized by Edge: “At independence in 1966 Botswana was struggling with issues of basic survival, with some observers regarding the country as a non‐viable entity” (Edge 1998:335).
3. Characteristics of a developmental state
3.1 Development –orientated political leadership
Regarding the above definition of a developmental country given by Edge, it is vital to have strong leadership committed to change in order to better the country, its people and its stance. The political leaders are “the captains of the ship” without their planning, knowledge and steady control it will be difficult to achieve any objectives or goals pertaining to development.
Botswana has a good track record of leadership that is development-orientated, starting with its very first President, Sir Seretse Khama, who set precedence for future leaders of the country. According to W.A Edge, at the time of independence from its British colonial masters, in 1966, Botswana had nothing to show in terms of development as the British were not concerned with economic growth and infrastructure; instead, their energy was vested in their own selfish interests such as to control Botswana through the chiefs in order to create a labour reserve which would provide labour to South African gold and diamond mines and protect white-economic interest in cattle farming. Starting with a blank canvas, under the rule of Sir Seretse Khama in the BDP (Botswana Democratic Party), the first national development plan was created (NDP). The purpose of this plan was to change Botswana’s unfortunate disposition, through growth-promoting policies in terms of social needs, infrastructure, and economic...
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