Civil society groups in Botswana: Factors facilitating - FES

Civil society groups
in Botswana:
Participation in
poverty eradication
Botswana is a middle income country
Poverty still a significant development challenge
Government highly committed to fight poverty
Vision 2016 –By 2016, Botswana will have eradicated absolute poverty…. will have
a more equitable income distribution that ensures participation in income success
Numerous programmes/strategies have implemented
Partnerships in poverty
Government has primary responsibility
Synergies with other entities including civil society are critical
Civil Society (CS)
Various definitions
EU- Includes wide range of actors and roles
◦ Non-state, not for profit structure, non-partisan and non–violent, through
which people organise to pursue shared political, cultural, social or economic
objectives and ideals
◦ E.g. men/women groups, trade unionists, faith/community-based, students
academic etc
Civil society
Widely believed to be to be a critical partner in development
◦ Fosters greater participation in socio- economic development and
◦ Operates at all levels local, national, regional and international
◦ Comprises urban and rural, formal and informal organisations
Civil society in Botswana
Has been growing since independence, more in 1990s
Remained generally weak possibly due to:
◦ political and social stability
◦ Culture of non-questioning (Mogalakwe & Sebudubudu (2006)
Reasoning probably indicates some of the CS challenges
What are some CSOs doing to
empower members?
In-depth interviews with 4 Teacher unions revealed:
Broad goals
◦ raise image of teaching profession
◦ Communication links between employees and management
◦ Keep teachers informed on rights, benefits. privileges (BOCONGO,2007)
Gone a step further to into welfare issues
What some CSO are they
doing to empower?
One teacher union has a business arm venturing into property
Secured and developed estates in Gabs and F/town
Sells houses to members affordably
All unions involved in welfare issues -funeral schemes, housing and car
loan scheme etc
For upskilling purposes IT gadgets acquired on mini loans
Through this members are empowered
Fragmentation of these unions limit the benefits of pooling resources
Women groups
Five women groups’ leadership were interviewed
Four assisted by gov‘t programmes GAD a and MLGRD
Engaged in SME in line with the guidelines- bakery, poultry etc
One group based in a church in Tlokweng was independent
◦ Voluntarily made crafts, toys, etc and,
◦ donated to the needy- orphans elderly
◦ Aspired to grow but limited capacity, had unsuccessfully approached S&CD
their business was not in the guidelines for PE.
Challenges met by CSO groups
All expressed lack of capacity including technical and business skills,
inadequate resources
One was not knowledgeable on how to seek assistance in spite of the
existing structures
Teacher unions were challenged by the fragmentation and were worried
of losing members > income
In spite of the weak nature, civil society is capable of contributing to
poverty eradication
Some CSOs like teacher unions are doing commendable work to
empower their members.
Challenges include inadequate capacity and resources,
Information does not reach all and prescribed businesses may not be
suitable for all situations.
An enabling environment is necessary for CSO to contribute more to
Capacity development is necessary -Best practices such as those of
teacher unions need to be documented and shared
Information dissemination
Flexibility in programmes that CSOs can engage in and be supported
Mogalakwe M and Sebudubudu, D. 2006 "Trends in State-Civil Society
Relations in Botswana", Journal of African Elections 5(2).
European Commission (2012). The roots of democracy and sustainable
development: Europe's engagement with Civil Society in external
relations European Commission Brussels

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