Botswana anti-poaching efforts hit by budget cuts
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
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.