Africa / The false image of Botswana

1 Gaborone, Botswana

The republic of Botswana, once a re-known country of peace, freedom, good governance and champion of human rights, has simply deteriorated in to a state ran by a regime notorious with Systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations and corruption. Since his arrival in to power, Ian Khama, a former head of the Botswana military, formed the Directorate of intelligence services, or simply DIS. The unit is made of former soldiers and police offers and is tasked with capturing suspected criminals, torturing and killing them while in prison cells. The most famous high profile of which is that of John Kalafatis, who was short while riding with friends in a car near a pub. The DIS has claimed hundreds of lives across the country, suspected criminals and prisoners have perished. Despite public and international outcry, the president remained unshaken about whether to dismantle the DIS or not. Prisoners who were lucky to escape before being killed by DIS have reported atrocities ranging from simple slaps to being forced to drink boiling water unless you speak the truth. There is no doubt that some of those captured and kept in DIS torture cells are guilty, however, it is a clear violation of international law to use brutal tactics on prisoners and suspects such as those famous with the DIS of Botswana. While in detention, suspects are denied food, water, medical services and other basic necessities for hours and even days, let alone the fact that they gain access to lawyers only after fully admitting crimes. Suspects are reported to be forced to sleep on floors covered with nails mounted on floors with spikes up, some have their legs tied strings and hanged from a river side with their heads lowered to within inches of yawning crocodiles on the river below. Steam from boiling water has been reported to be shot from underneath a chair occupied by a suspect until he/she confess and admit to a crime, irrespective of whether he committed it or not. Fist hand testimony from lucky surviving prisoner s and criminal suspects has revealed that they are placed on plastic bags for suffocation until agony forces them to admit guilt. Despite the leakage of these appalling stories to the Botswana public or the world in general, DIS commit these brutal atrocities under the highest possible confidentiality. Those who have defected have reported shooting people and damping them under bridges, in dams and dense bush velds. DIS officials often give falsifying information stating that some criminal suspects and prisoners who die while in their custody have committed suicide. With very high legal services, rampant corruption and government intervention in judicial and court matters, families of victims find it a steep challenge to launch lawsuits against the DIS. Those prisoners who luckily make it to court, chances of emerging innocent are very slim. Botswana has repeatedly rejected abolition of the death sentence, despite it being one of the few countries in the world which still hold on to it. Murder suspects have reportedly been forced to coerce confession and admit guilt of crimes they did not commit. Human rights groups have on numerous occasions voiced their concerns about the behavior of Ian Khama's government at no avail. The United Nations

The indiginous people of the central part of Botswana, termed the khoi san have been forcefully evicted from their homes in favor of tourism. Ian Khama's regime sent armed officers to oversea the eviction, which resulted in clashes that claimed a significant number of lives of the khoi san. Although the country has had very peaceful and free elections after gaining independence from the United Kingdom, international observers have simply discredited the credibility of the elections in Botswana. Very tricky, well planned election fraud tactics have been successfully implemented to keep the ruling Botswana Democratic Party in power. Independent polls conducted by organizations have revealed that more that 75% of the youth, who make 60% off the population, are disparate for immediate change in power. It comes as a stunning observation that the BDP claims a landslide victory election after election.

Rampant Corruption among party leaders and officials has simply hampered efforts to develop the country. More than 90% of corruption scandals involving the equivalence of millions of US$s are directly tied to BDP party officials. Such officials remit huge amounts of money to offshore banks in countries like Switzerland, UK, Belgium, the United States and France. Grants from wealthy nations have gone missing in numerous occasions since Ian khama assumed power. As 2014 elections loom, most potential voters have simply made up their minds not to vote, why? because the results are obvious well before the elections themselves begin; BDP will win. Opposition parties and the public in general, who fear being arrested, detained, tortured or possibly killed by DIS officials, are very careful about what to say when voicing their opinions on governance of the country. When information reflecting the standard of living, development of the country and progress on socio-economic matters is communicated to international bodies, the statistics are manipulated to obscure the reality on the ground. This is the sole reason why global corruption watch dog bodies have ranked Botswana as one of the least corrupt countries in the world. The Botswana Democratic Party and president Ian Khama have found a very clever way to convey deceptive, misleading image of Botswana. It is seen by outside world as a country being ran very well, whereas the opposite is true. No single country if perfect but what the government of Botswana does under cover is tantamount to practices of tyranious regimes like North Korea, Iran and the like.
since taking the president's office, Ian Khama has completely militarized the cabinet; Civilian ministers, parliamentarians and permanent secretaries across key government departments have been forced to retire in favor of former military figures who served under Khama at the Botswana Defence Force. Those serving in public offices say they work under military like environments where their is no choice other than taking instructions as they are. Botswana has turned in to a one party state masking its face with democracy, a dictatorial wolf wearing a democratic sheep skin, should I say. Batswana are not the kind of people to launch massive protests, those with that zeal of organizing protests risk being secretly killed by DIS agents, secretly captured and going through days or weeks of torture before passing through a courtroom on their way to jail.
Since assuming power, the corruption minded Ian Khama has turned most state asserts in to his own. Game reserves, masses of land are under his control and close relatives. Lucrative state tenders are awarded to companies and contractors owned by his brothers, sisters, cousins and the like. The most famous of which is the procurement of arms for the military, police equipment and many others. All of his accused relatives have serving in the cabinet and senior government positions have walked free from court. It is estimated that government of Botswana looses the equivalence of millions of dollars which go straight to Ian Khama, his relatives and military friends. Around the country one can observe the need for improved infrastructure; schools are in ruins, roads are in terrible state, people are jobless, whereas funds are diverted to corrupt leaders through embezzlement. Botswana is no different to those African states who leaders often come to power though a bullet, NOT a ballot, and exit power through the same route. These countries include DRC, Guinea, Angola, Rwanda, CAR, Guinea Bissau and many others.

In the social world, very repressive alcohol governing laws have been passed in to law, pubs open within a few hours a day, parties and gatherings for fun having activities have been banned. Despite endless complaints from industries in the entertainment industry and people earning a living from the sale of alcohol, laws have been tightened even further. Youth in Botswana are plugged by boredom, with very little to do in spare time. Botswana is a country waiting to find a quick solution to end its silent killer.

Feb 17, 2014

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