Botswana: Rising Perceptions of Corruption, Weak Trust, and Low Approval Ratings Mark Batswana Assessments of Their President

Proportion of citizens who see most Presidency officials as corrupt has almost quadrupled over the past decade.

Key findings

  • About eight in 10 Batswana (79%) say at least "some" officials in the president's office are involved in corruption, including 50% who say "most" or "all" of them are corrupt.
  • The proportion of citizens who perceive most/all officials in the Presidency as corrupt has almost quadrupled over the past decade.
  • Three-quarters (76%) of citizens say the president should be accountable to Parliament, and more than eight in 10 (84%) want their president to be bound by laws and decisions of the courts, even if he thinks they are wrong. o In practice, slim majorities say the president "rarely" or "never" ignores Parliament (55%) and the courts (56%), but about three in 10 citizens disagree.
  • About seven in 10 Batswana (69%) say they trust the president "just a little" or "not at all," and an equal proportion (69%) disapprove of the president's job performance over the previous 12 months. o Poor citizens are particularly likely to distrust the president and disapprove of the way he has done his job.

Botswana continues to fare relatively well in prominent corruption and good-governance indices. The latest Corruption Perceptions Index places Botswana in third position in Africa, 39th in the world (Transparency International, 2023). In terms of overall governance, Botswana ranks fifth in the Ibrahim Index of Good Governance (Mo Ibrahim Foundation, 2022).

But since President Mokgweetsi Masisi assumed office in 2018, critics have voiced concerns about corruption in his government, including allegations of nepotism involving the awarding of large tenders to a company owned by the president's sister (Pheage, 2022; Africa Press, 2022). The president has also been accused of neglecting Parliament (Motlhoka, 2024) and of compromising judicial independence by interfering in a tribal land dispute, a charge he has denied (Mathala, 2023; Mlilo, 2022).

The latest Afrobarometer survey shows that a growing share of Batswana see officials in the president's office as corrupt. Most citizens say the president must be accountable to Parliament and obey the country's laws and courts, even if he thinks they are wrong.

Ahead of presidential elections in 2024, strong majorities express little or no trust in the incumbent and disapprove of the way he has performed his job.

Batlang Seabo Batlang is a research associate of the Btoswana national partner, Star Awards

Wilford Molefe Wilford Molefe is the co-national investigator for Botswana.

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