Privatisation in Botswana: A Case of Firsts Not Happening First?

Emmanuel Kopang Botlhale


The late 1980s and early 1990s were characterised by unprecedented waves of privatisation in the world. Like other developing economies, Botswana jumped into the bandwagon and laid the legal framework for privatisation by way of promulgating a Privatisation Policy for Botswana in 2000. It is notable that despite the promulgation of the Policy, privatisation will only commence with the privatisation of the National Development Bank (NDB) in late 2011. This paper, relying on a variety sources; for example, newspaper accounts, personal interviews etc traces the privatisation process beginning with the appointment of the Privatisation Task Force in 1997, the passage of the Privatisation Policy for Botswana in 2000 and right up to the aborted privatisation of Air Botswana and the recent decision to privatise the NDB. Largely drawing from the Air Botswana saga, the paper argues that key firsts, being the delineation of an institutional-legal framework and public education on privatisation, either did not happen first or sloppily happened. As it is, Botswana has crossed the Rubicon, therefore, there is no going back on privatisation. Hence, as the government goes ahead with the privatisation of NDB, and the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation thereafter, there is a need to either do first things firstly or do them correctly so that the privatisation project can be successfully delivered. Principally, the powers of the both the executive and legislative arms of government must be delineated in regard to privatisation and public education must be an ongoing exercise to ensure a buy-in.

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