National Security Policy: The Case of Botswana

Malebang, Gabriel Gosiame Goitsemodimo
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This study examined the rationale for formulating a national security policy for Botswana. The study probed the various ways in which national security is conceptualised by different actors in Botswana. These range from key government officials with portfolio responsibilities linked to national security and to civil society representatives and academics in the area of political science and security studies. The study also investigated the various threats, past, present and future, to Botswana‟s national security. These are categorised into national security vulnerabilities and shortcomings in terms of territorial integrity and sovereignty, key institutions and actors, security policy instruments, strategic national interests and human security. The latter was also used as a framework to assess the country‟s strengths and achievements in the area of national security with a view to informing the advisability or its lack thereof, of formulating a national security policy. The key research question was whether or not Botswana needs to formulate a National Security Policy in order to better contain its national security vulnerabilities. The study carried out a series of in-depth interviews with key office bearers in Botswana‟s security sector and a focus group discussion with members of various non-governmental organisations in Botswana. These interviews were both structured and unstructured. It also involved a content analysis of policy reports, documents and media reports involving decisions with a bearing on the country‟s national security. The study then compared information obtained in the interviews to what was found in the literature about national security policies. A key finding in this research is the fact that there is no commonly known and owned concept of national security in Botswana. Security means different things to different people depending on who one is talking to. Botswana is also confronted with many threats to its national security. These range from violent crime, poaching, espionage, HIV/AIDS, Foot and Mouth disease to illegal cross border traffic and a large number of illegal immigrants to mention a few. The country has many institutions in its security sector. The problem is that they are not well coordinated with clearly defined roles. The result has therefore been turf wars, imbalances in resource allocations and institutional jealousies which have resulted in a situation where institutions work and talk past each other. 13 The security policy environment in Botswana is also characterised by many pieces of legislation rather than clearly thought out and expressed, codified policy documents providing guidance and legitimacy for security policy decision making in the country. What the country has on the ground at present is ad-hoc and disjointed. Security related decisions are taken in a policy vacuum especially in the face of crisis. The absence of a codified foreign and security policy has also meant that the country has failed to clearly define its national interests and values in order for it to allocate appropriate resources towards realising them. This state of affairs has the potential of putting the country at risk with its neighbours who may view it with suspicion as it has inadequate confidence building measures in place to underpin its foreign and security policy. A key finding of this study has also been the need to premise the country‟s national security policy on the concept of human security which identifies the individual as the referent object of security and not the state. The study also raised a need for the government to begin to include more institutions on its national security radar screen in line with the agenda of security sector governance and reform. The study commended the government of Botswana for its efforts at formulating a national security strategy without being pushed by donors or a history of conflict as is the case in many countries in post-conflict situations. At the end, the study argues the case for Botswana to embark on a security sector reform drive which will result in a clear, codified national security policy and strategy which stipulates how the policy goals are to be met. The study contributes to the steadily growing research on Botswana‟s National Security Policy by offering a sector-wide approach encompassing all key institutions and actors in the country‟s security sector, as opposed to previous researches which were biased towards law enforcement and defence. This research hopes to contribute to and provide guidance to the process of formulating policy propositions on the theory, practice, and teaching of Security Studies, Civil – Military Relations, Security Sector Governance and Public Policy Analysis in Botswana. It also contributes to enhancing the processes of security policy decision making and formulation in Botswana.
Botswana , National security, Botswana , Foreign policy, Botswana , Sovereignty, Botswana , Security, Botswana