Case studies in governance: Botswana and the Democratic Republic of Congo

By: HENRY RAIKES


posted on: May 15th, 2018

Democracy is incredibly important to the wellbeing of people across the world. Indeed a lack of democracy or a decline in democracy in a society will always lead to suffering and distress. The lack of a strong independent court system, a weak constitution and corruption all contribute to weaken democracy in society. The cases of Botswana and the Democratic Republic of Congo demonstrate how the support of democracy is directly linked to economic growth and prosperity.

BOTSWANA

Botswana’s economic performance is exceptionally strong. Its GDP per capita – the total financial output of the country divided by its population – of $18,146 is one of the highest across Africa, and its annual GDP growth rate of 8.6% is exceptionally high considering that just over two million people live in the country.

Botswana has one of the most stable and transparent political systems in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. The country was ranked as the least corrupt country in the entire continent by Transparency International in 2013. Botswana is generally seen as equal to countries like South Korea or Portugal when it comes to their democratic strength.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

The Democratic Republic of Congo is potentially one of the most resource-rich countries in the entire planet. There are countless diamond, gold, copper, cobalt and oil deposits throughout the country. Yet the total GDP of the country is little more than double that of Botswana, despite the huge population differences between the two countries (Botswana has a population of just over two million whilst the population of the Democratic Republic of Congo is over seventy-five million.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has a terrible record when it comes to democracy and human rights. Corruption in particular has been particularly detrimental to the Congolese people. The former Congolese president Mobutu Sese Seko was estimated to have pocketed $4-5 billion for himself during his 32-year tenure. Corruption became institutionalised – made normal – in Congolese politics throughout Mobutu’s presidency.

CONCLUSIONS

The comparison between Botswana and the Democratic Republic of Congo demonstrates a clear pattern. The more democratic a country is, the more likely it is that it will thrive economically. Despite being blessed with bottomless deposits of natural resources, many people of the Democratic Republic of Congo suffer from poverty and destitution. They suffer because the country lacks basic democratic values like a transparent government, a strong rule of law or an independent court system.

Democracy in Botswana shows the exact opposite. A constitution based on the rule of law and transparency has helped the country thrive economically, despite the lack of natural resources on a scale like in the Congo. Political stability, strong property rights and free elections have all helped encourage investment and entrepreneurship in Botswana, explaining their economic success.

The above comparisons and conclusions should serve to provide examples of good governance and how promoting democratic values is beneficial to all. The poorest sections of African society are hit by bad governance and corruption, whilst the entirety of society benefits from transparency, the rule of law and political freedom.

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