Botswana anti-poach­ing ef­forts hit by bud­get cuts

The New Age (Gauteng) - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - Asayehgn Desta is pro­fes­sor of sus­tain­able eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, Do­mini­can Univer­sity. This ar­ti­cle first ap­peared on the­con­ver­sa­tion.com Os­car Nkala is a writer and com­men­ta­tor

A PARA­DOX has played out in Ethiopia over the last decade. While its econ­omy has thrived, its po­lit­i­cal land­scape has been over­whelmed by ram­pant cor­rup­tion.

In 2013, for ex­am­ple, more than 50 high­pro­file peo­ple, in­clud­ing gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and busi­ness peo­ple, were ar­rested dur­ing an anti-cor­rup­tion crack­down.

As Ethiopia’s econ­omy trans­formed be­tween 2010-2015, through the ex­pan­sion of ser­vices, agri­cul­ture and im­prove­ments in in­fra­struc­ture, cor­rup­tion be­came a way of life. This is be­cause of the po­lit­i­cal dom­i­nance of a sin­gle party – the Ethiopian Peo­ple’s Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Demo­cratic Front. It is a coali­tion of four par­ties and has ruled Ethiopia since 1991.

De­spite tout­ing it­self as a mul­ti­party state, true mul­ti­party pol­i­tics have not been able to take root. This is be­cause of the rul­ing party’s con­trol over se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus, me­dia, elec­toral or­gans and ad­min­is­tra­tive struc­ture.

“Pol­i­tics of tol­er­ance” are not en­ter­tained as op­po­si­tion par­ties are seen as en­e­mies, rather than po­lit­i­cal ri­vals.

Un­der­ly­ing the change needed to tackle cor­rup­tion is the need to tran­si­tion from this sin­gle party state to a true mul­ti­party sys­tem.

This will pro­mote po­lit­i­cal choice and give demo­cratic rights to all ci­ti­zens. It will in­tro­duce a sys­tem of checks and bal­ances that will ex­pose abuses and re­veal cor­rupt of­fi­cials. Cor­rup­tion in ac­tion As ex­plained in my book, Ethiopia bor­rowed its de­vel­op­ment model from South Korea and Malaysia. These pre­sume that de­vel­op­ment is man­aged by highly dis­ci­plined, non­par­ti­san, pro­fes­sional gov­ern­ment func­tionar­ies.

In Ethiopia, how­ever, gov­ern­ment bu­reau­crats are not re­cruited on mer­i­toc­racy. They op­er­ate in line with their eth­nic af­fil­i­a­tion and to ful­fil the whims of the dom­i­nant party.

The sec­ond is that pub­lic pro­cure­ment for de­vel­op­ment projects such as high­ways, elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy and hous­ing are not han­dled through ten­der pro­cesses.

An­other con­trib­u­tory fac­tor is the state’s com­pli­cated bu­reau­cracy. Sec­tors such as land ad­min­is­tra­tion, cus­toms and pub­lic pro­cure­ment have be­come the pil­lars of the rent-seek­ing po­lit­i­cal econ­omy. Busi­nesses are forced to pay bribes to ob­tain per­mits and li­cences.

The preva­lence of po­lit­i­cal cor­rup­tion has had a num­ber of con­se­quences. It’s af­fected the coun­try’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct and re­warded un­pro­duc­tive em­ploy­ees in both the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors.

Its great­est im­pact, how­ever, has been the fu­elling of in­sta­bil­ity. This has led to a great deal of do­mes­tic tur­moil.

As a re­sult, vi­o­lent anti-gov­ern­ment protests against do­mes­tic and for­eign in­vest­ments have erupted in re­cent months.

This vi­o­lence has threat­ened the coun­try’s in­fra­struc­ture, for­eign in­vest­ment and civil­ians. The sit­u­a­tion has es­ca­lated to a point that or­di­nary law en­force­ment agen­cies are un­able to prop­erly han­dle the sit­u­a­tion.

In­stead, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment de­clared a six­month­long state of emer­gency, ef­fec­tive from Oc­to­ber 10, 2016. This has been ex­tended by an­other four months. Anti­cor­rup­tion ef­forts If the Ethiopian gov­ern­ment re­fuses to ad­dress these is­sues, the flour­ish­ing econ­omy will likely evap­o­rate. The signs aren’t good. The gov­ern­ment’s at­tempts at fight­ing cor­rup­tion are su­per­fi­cial and will pro­duce mar­ginal re­sults.

The anti-cor­rup­tion Procla­ma­tion of 2005, for ex­am­ple, was poorly im­ple­mented and lacked method­olo­gies in han­dling cor­rup­tion cases. It had lim­ited power and its en­forcers lacked skills in in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pros­e­cu­tion.

The coun­try’s court sys­tem can’t ef­fec­tively deal with cor­rup­tion either. This is be­cause the court sys­tem in Ethiopia is en­gulfed with in­jus­tices and cor­rup­tion is deeply rooted. For ex­am­ple, judges are gen­er­ally not as­signed to the court bench as a re­sult of their train­ing or ex­pe­ri­ence, but to ful­fil the coun­try’s eth­nic quota sys­tem of rul­ing. They there­fore make de­ci­sions in favour of their eth­nic groups and pur­posely pro­long the ex­e­cu­tion of court cases. The way for­ward Cer­tain changes need to be made to fight cor­rup­tion. Civic or­gan­i­sa­tions, al­ter­na­tive par­ties and op­po­si­tion groups need to be in­volved in po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue.

This can start to hap­pen through the restruc­tur­ing of the fed­eral sys­tem and a mul­ti­party sys­tem that pro­vides an equal play­ing field.

By do­ing this, Ethiopia will im­prove its elec­toral sys­tem and give way to pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion, rather than only al­low­ing the largest block of vot­ers to be rep­re­sented.

By de­sign, Ethiopia es­tab­lished the po­lit­i­cal grid­lock it­self through the cre­ation of eth­nic and re­gional fed­er­al­ism. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and com­mer­cial in­ter­ac­tion among con­stituents has de­clined be­cause re­gions are con­fined within wa­ter­tight com­part­ments. They de­velop apart and have lit­tle in­flu­ence on each other.

The ex­ist­ing re­gional states need to be sub­di­vided into man­age­able units or woredas as they’re called in Ethiopia. This would make lo­cal units more man­age­able. They will each have a say in se­lect­ing their own ad­min­is­tra­tors, hold­ing them to ac­count for their de­ci­sions. Each unit could have a num­ber of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties run by com­mu­nity elected may­ors and coun­cil mem­bers.

For the ju­di­cial sys­tem at the fed­eral level, the frame­work for ju­di­cial ap­point­ment and re­ten­tion must be reeval­u­ated and re­struc­tured. Ju­di­cial po­si­tions should be ad­ver­tised to at­tract a wider se­lec­tion pool of higher cal­i­bre can­di­dates. Ju­di­cial ad­min­is­tra­tion com­mis­sions must have clear stan­dards, pro­ce­dures, and rules for de­ci­sion mak­ing.

These ba­sic struc­tural changes and a will­ing­ness on the part of the gov­ern­ment to al­low mul­ti­party democ­racy to pre­vail and real power de­volved to the lo­cal level, will pave the way for Ethiopia to sus­tain its eco­nomic growth tra­jec­tory. BOTSWANA’S world ac­claimed anti-poach­ing suc­cess story is be­ing threat­ened by bud­get cuts that have forced the De­part­ment of Wildlife and Na­tional Parks to cur­tail pa­trols of the crack Rhino Squad.

The cuts have also cre­ated a huge back­log in un­paid farmer com­pen­sa­tion claims aris­ing from the hu­man­an­i­mal con­flict.

En­vi­ron­ment, Nat­u­ral Re­sources and Tourism Min­is­ter Tshekedi Khama said the De­part­ment of Wildlife and Na­tional Parks’ anti-poach­ing op­er­a­tions were hard hit by the gov­ern­ment aus­ter­ity mea­sures which re­sulted in a re­duc­tion of the min­istry’s 2017 bud­get from 213 mil­lion pula (R270m) to 165 mil­lion pula.

Set up in 2014 as a spe­cialised para­mil­i­tary pro­tec­tion and in­tel­li­gence-gath­er­ing unit, the Rhino Squad’s man­date is to pro­tect rhi­nos, which are still be­ing re­lo­cated from poach­ing hot spots in South Africa and Zim­babwe. It works in con­junc­tion with counter-poach­ing op­er­a­tives from the po­lice, pris­ons, in­tel­li­gence and the army.

The Rhino Squad may only con­duct lim­ited op­er­a­tions as its pa­trol ve­hi­cles are grounded be­cause it owes the gov­ern­men­towned Cen­tral Trans­port Or­gan­i­sa­tion (CTO) 4 mil­lion pula in un­paid fuel sup­plies.

“If you have given us money to es­tab­lish the Rhino Squad, you should un­der­stand that it will come with oper­a­tional costs. We are al­ways at war with poach­ers and we try to do as much as we can, with lit­tle re­sources,” Khama said.

He added that of late, Botswana’s at­tempts to win in­ter­na­tional as­sis­tance for anti-poach­ing pro­grammes were be­ing ig­nored as donors be­lieve that like all mid­dle-in­come coun­tries, it should fund its own pro­grammes.

Due to bud­get cuts, the min­istry has also failed to pay manda­tory com­pen­sa­tion to farm­ers who suf­fered loses to wild an­i­mals.

The De­part­ment of Wildlife and Na­tional Parks owes 15 mil­lion pula in un­paid farmer com­pen­sa­tion claims. Some claims have been out­stand­ing since 2013. Khama said the pay­ment of com­pen­sa­tion claims aris­ing from the hu­man­an­i­mal con­flict could soon prove un­sus­tain­able as long as the min­istry op­er­ates on shoe­string bud­gets.

This is of grave con­cern as it is likely to har­den com­mu­nity at­ti­tudes to­wards wildlife and pos­si­ble force com­mu­ni­ties to take mat­ters into their own hands.

De­fend­ing his re­quest for a sup­ple­men­tary bud­get re­cently, Khama told Par­lia­ment that more funds were needed for anti-poach­ing, species, habitat and ecosys­tems preser­va­tion, land man­age­ment and set­ting up a na­tion­wide tourist data­base.

“I note with con­cern that although it is re­spon­si­ble for such crit­i­cal tasks, my min­istry is among those which get the low­est bud­gets an­nu­ally. In terms of wildlife con­ser­va­tion, it has re­spon­si­bil­i­ties that in­clude im­prov­ing the sta­tus of species, pop­u­la­tions and ecosys­tems in­tegrity to pre­vent ex­tinc­tion.”

The wildlife species con­ser­va­tion ac­tiv­i­ties are be­ing un­der­taken within na­tional parks and the trans-fron­tier con­ser­va­tion ar­eas, which Botswana shares with Namibia, Zam­bia, Zim­babwe and South Africa.

De­spite the bud­get cuts, Khama said Botswana re­mained con­fi­dent that its rep­u­ta­tion of zero tol­er­ance to poach­ing would help keep out the in­ter­na­tional poach­ing syn­di­cates op­er­at­ing in neigh­bour­ing Zim­babwe, South Africa, Namibia, Zam­bia and, of late, An­gola.

A wildlife in­tel­li­gence unit, which has ex­isted on pa­per since 1980, has been ac­ti­vated and is be­ing staffed, trained, armed and re­sourced. He said Botswana would main­tain its sta­tus as a safe haven for wildlife be­cause the unit would safe­guard the rhi­nos re­lo­cated from South Africa and Zim­babwe.

Re­cent sta­tis­tics from the wildlife au­thor­ity sur­pris­ingly showed a de­cline in ele­phant poach­ing in the past two years, stat­ing 36 ele­phants were poached in 2016, down from at least 84 in 2015.

The “shoot to kill” pol­icy on armed poach­ers has led to the killing of sus­pects in­clud­ing Namib­ians, Zam­bians and Zim­bab­weans.

By the end of 2014, Botswana’s rhino pop­u­la­tion had risen to 154. At least 25 more were re­lo­cated be­tween 2015 and 2016. Last month, 12 out of 100 white rhi­nos des­tined for Botswana were air­lifted from South Africa to the Oka­vango Delta.

Although there have been no of­fi­cial rhino poach­ing sta­tis­tics since 2013, one black rhino was con­firmed as killed in the Mak­gadik­gadi Salt Pan area in Fe­bru­ary 2015. In De­cem­ber 2016, one rhino was killed at a cat­tle post out­side Maun. – Sup­plied by Con­ser­va­tion Ac­tion Trust

PIC­TURE: AFP

RE­SIS­TANCE: The Ethiopian gov­ern­ment de­clared a state of emer­gency in Oc­to­ber in an at­tempt to pre­vent protests against state cor­rup­tion.

RHINO RES­CUE: With funds cut the rhi­nos are again ex­posed.

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