As Africa’s longest continuous multiparty democracy, Botswana has a lot to be proud of.
Its approach to human rights has been praised; Botswana is viewed as an excellent place to do business; and its strong culture of consulting citizens’ views is applauded around the world. Furthermore, it has a track record of free and fair elections in its first half-century since independence.
The next 50 years, though, will contain many challenges as well as opportunities. Voters will be increasingly interested in pressing issues like HIV/Aids, the extraction of natural resources, energy supply and employment rights. And the digital revolution will give citizens the means to engage more meaningfully with politics. Westminster Foundation for Democracy believes the Parliament can respond to these changes positively, and we want to help it do so by increasing the oversight capacity of its MPs.
Since its establishment in1992, WFD has offered other countries insight from the British democratic experience by bringing together Westminster’s parliamentary and political party expertise. So far, our Botswana programmes have primarily focused on strengthening political parties. The UK’s Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats – the latter operating via the Africa Liberal Network – have worked to build candidates’ ability to campaign effectively since 2008. In 2015 we ran a seminar promoting women’s engagement in politics and public life.
Now WFD is seeking to offer support to Botswana’s democracy by strengthening its parliament’s financial scrutiny capability. A Financial Scrutiny Unit could assist with in-depth budget analysis, promote gender budgeting and track natural resource revenues. We can offer MPs sitting on the Public Accounts Committee insight into new practise and expertise from the UK. WFD has also worked on research support and strategic planning in parliaments across the world; we believe our knowledge in these areas could help the Parliament as it contributes to more effective, inclusive governance which benefits all of Botswana’s citizens.