Botswana. Botswana's crisis economy further deteriorated
during the year. The important mining industry was suffering
due to low world market prices, and the copper and diamond
industry threatened thousands of workers with dismissal.
countryaah, the most severe plague was the drought that haunted
southern Africa for several years. The worst dry season of
over 30 years was felt mainly in the animal-rich Okavango
Delta, which normally provides Botswana with large income
through tourism. Water shortages and consequent electricity
shortages affected the mines as well as the manufacturing
industry and agriculture.
In July, President Ian Khama declared disaster state
because of the drought. Many people were threatened by
starvation, and Khama announced a relief program that would
last for a year.
During the year, Botswana's highest court rejected the
government's attempt to ban a gay rights lobby group. The
verdict was seen as an unusual success for gay rights in
Africa. According to the ruling, the group would be allowed
to register and campaign for changes in legislation
prohibiting homosexuality with threats of imprisonment.
According to the chief judge, the government's attempt to
ban the group was in violation of the fundamental freedom of
association. The verdict was a challenge to the Khama
government, which among other things refused to distribute
condoms in prisons for not encouraging homosexuality.
Botswana has one of the world's highest proportions of HIV
infected, and groups fighting HIV and AIDS have criticized
the government's line.
In June, it was reported that Botswana's defense force
was negotiating with Sweden for the purchase of the Swedish
combat aircraft JAS, which is used in neighboring South
The security police arrested a journalist investigating a
conflict between President Ian Khama and his brother,
Environment and Tourism Minister Tshekedi Khama. The arrest
was seen as yet another attempt to silence critical press
voices, a development that hardened under Khama's rule.
A leading editor, Outsa Mokone, was charged with rioting
after he published an article about a traffic accident
involving President Khama. Khama had been driving alone in
the capital Gaborone at night and had not reported the
accident to police, despite being injured by the driver of
the other car.
The reporter who wrote the article found himself in exile
in South Africa, where he sought political asylum and said
he was threatened with life. The indictment against the
editor was the first in Botswana against a journalist for
rioting, which could result in three years in prison.
In September, Botswana opposed its neighbors in southern
Africa, which wanted to allow ivory sales, at the UN
Conference on Endangered Species Trade. Botswana's line won,
but the country did not get through its demand for a total
ban on ivory trade. Botswana is estimated to have between
140,000 and 200,000 elephants, a third of Africa's entire
President Khama declared in September that Zimbabwe's
92-year-old authoritarian President Robert Mugabe should
step down. Zimbabwe's political and economic collapse brings
with it the whole of southern Africa, Khama claimed.
Botswana has an 800 km long border with Zimbabwe and is
clearly aware of Zimbabwe's economic collapse.
During the year, a huge diamond from the Karoo mine in
Botswana was sold for $ 63 million, about half a billion
SEK. It was the highest price ever for a diamond. The seller
was a Canadian mining company, but the buyer was not named.