Categorized | News, Opinion


While there is one more Batswana athlete due up on August 6-8 (Nijel Amos in the men’s 800), certainly the African nation’s best chance for a medal was dashed which Amantle Montsho finished a disappointing fourth in the finals of the women’s 400 meter this afternoon.  One good thing:  USA got gold and bronze and GB got the silver.

I do not have much information as my computer video crashed just before the event but apparently Montsho was ahead but was overtaken by the eventual winner:  US Sanya Richards-Ross.  Here is NBC’s recap that does not mention Montsho.  I’ll try to have tomorrow some news comment from the media in Botswana.

My point for all this besides that Botswana is a great nation with good record for free markets, representative government, separation of powers, a free press and independent judiciary; a nation that more Americans should know about!  Here’s some highlights of Freedom House’s take on Botswana:

Elected governments, all led by the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), have ruled the country since it gained independence from Britain in 1966.


Botswana’s anticorruption body has special powers of investigation, arrest, and search and seizure, and the body generally boasts a high conviction rate. Nevertheless, there are almost no restrictions on the private business activities of public servants, and there have been a number of high-profile corruption scandals in recent years.


Botswana has a free and vigorous press, with several independent newspapers and magazines. The private Gaborone Broadcasting Corporation television system and two private radio stations have limited reach, though Botswana easily receives broadcasts from neighboring South Africa. State-owned outlets dominate the local broadcast media, which reach far more residents than the print media, yet provide inadequate access to the opposition and government critics. In addition, the government sometimes censors or otherwise restricts news sources or stories that it finds undesirable.


Freedom of religion is guaranteed, but all religious organizations must register with the government. There are over 1,000 church groups in Botswana. Academic freedom is generally respected. The government generally respects the constitutional rights of assembly and association. Nongovernmental organizations, including human rights groups, operate openly without harassment.

The courts are generally considered to be fair and free of direct political interference, although the legal system is affected by staffing shortages and a large backlog of cases. Trials are usually public, and those accused of the most serious violent crimes are provided with attorneys. Civil cases, however, are sometimes tried in customary courts, where defendants have no legal counsel. The 2007 Intelligence and Security Services Act created a Directorate of Intelligence and Security in the office of the president. Critics charged that it vested too much power in the agency’s director—including allowing him to authorize arrests without warrants—and lacked parliamentary oversight mechanisms.

Occasional police abuse to obtain evidence or confessions has been reported, and Botswana has been criticized by rights groups for continuing to use corporal and capital punishment. Prisons are overcrowded and suffer from poor health conditions, though the government has responded by building new facilities and providing HIV testing to inmates.


Women enjoy the same rights as men under the constitution, though customary laws limit their property rights, and women married under traditional laws have the same legal status as minors. The 2004 Abolition of Marital Powers Act established equal control of marriage estates and equal custody of children, removed restrictive domicile rules, and set the minimum marriage age at 18. However, enforcement of the Act is not uniform and generally requires the cooperation of traditional authorities, which is not always forthcoming. Women are underrepresented in the government, comprising less than 8 percent of the National Assembly seats following the 2009 elections. Domestic violence and trafficking for the purposes of prostitution and labor remain significant problems. Same-sex sexual relations are illegal and can carry a prison sentence of up to seven years. A 2010 amendment to the Employment Act outlaws workplace dismissal based on an individual’s sexual orientation or HIV status, and in October 2011, former president Festus Mogae called for Botswana to legalize homosexuality and prostitution in order to better combat HIV/AIDS.

Over all not a bad record.  Especially for a developing nation.  Freedom House calls Botswana “Free” and the press “Partly Free”.  The per capita income is over $13k.  I have been a quiet fan of Botswana for many years.  (Botswana also has a lot of clear nights for telescope observing!)

We also need to appreciate and be grateful for the fact we do well in the Olympic Games and we should uphold its ideals:  That means (among other things) no more professional athletes in the Olympics.  That means no more sports imperialism.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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