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» 23.03.2010 - Rift divides Botswana's ruling party
» 23.02.2010 - Botswana and Zimbabwe irons out difference
» 09.02.2010 - Khama accused of trampling on Bushmen’s rights
» 01.02.2010 - Botswana condemns Togo suspension by CAF
» 28.01.2010 - Australia expands relations with Botswana
» 07.08.2009 - San communities in Botswana get USADF funding
» 16.02.2009 - Botswana passports could be at risk
» 11.12.2008 - "SADC to look for MDC military bases in Botswana"

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Politics | Human rights | Science - Education

Outrage as Botswana expels critical academic

afrol News, 23 February - Human rights groups and the Botswana's academic environment are expressing outrage at the government's attempt to expel Professor Kenneth Good. The political science lecturer at the University of Botswana has frequently made critical comments on Batswana and African politics, including a recent study strongly criticising the President.

Professor Good on Friday afternoon was notified that he had been declared a prohibited immigrant and given 48 hours to leave the country, where he has lived and worked for 15 years. According to himself and presidential spokesman Jeff Ramsay, the deportation order had been given from Botswana's President Festus Mogae in person.

The presidential order seems to confirm Mr Good's assumption that a recent report co-authored by him had triggered the sudden decision. The report titled "Presidential Succession in Botswana: No Model for Africa" concluded that President Mogae had handpicked Vice-President Ian Khama to succeed him in 2008 despite the will of the Batswana.

Botswana is widely famed for its model democracy in Africa, a fact the government in Gaborone tirelessly and proudly repeats at home and abroad. According to several analyses by Professor Good, however, President Mogae is undermining the democratic fundament in Botswana by reappointing parliamentarians losing in their constituencies, attacking the San minority and limiting transparency.

Further following Mr Good's analyses, Vice-President Khama is a poor choice for the Batswana presidency. The Lieutenant-General is a controversial personality, being connected to non-transparent tender awards and semi-private use of military aircrafts. President Mogae plans to hand over powers to his Vice-President one year ahead of the next elections.

The deportation order of the critical professor yet has to be implemented as Mr Good immediately challenged it. Botswana's High Court is to hear the case on 7 March. The unwanted professor and the court by then expect to receive official reasons for his deportation.

Meanwhile, the expulsion order has created outrage in Botswana. Ditshwanelo, the Botswana Centre for Human Rights, this week strongly condemned the decision to deport Mr Good. As it was made and conveyed in the form of a presidential decree, Ditshwanelo holds the order "undermines the fundamental rules of natural justice and human rights."

As a university lecturer, Professor Good had only "exercised his right to academic freedom" when criticising the government, Ditshwanelo said. "It would be reasonable to assume that his critical comments have contributed to the government viewing him as one whom they do not wish to have present in the country," the group added.

Also the University of Botswana Academic and Senior Support Staff Union (UBASSSU) has expressed outrage and dismay at the decision, Botswana's daily 'Mmegi' reports. Mr Good's colleagues at the Gaborone university say his deportation is an assault on academic freedom and an affront on the fundamental values of democracy.

According to a statement from UBASSSU chairman Alfred Tsheboeng, members of the union have also expressed concern at the growing tendency towards authoritarianism by the government. Mr Good's colleagues have expressed "absolute solidarity" with this "eminent scholar with outstanding academic credentials" and have announced protest activities.

Protests have also come from abroad. Survival International - a group engaged in the San people's court case against the government to undo an expulsion from their lands - today pointed to "authoritarian" tendencies in Botswana in general. "Those who still believe that Botswana is a beacon of democracy on the continent must surely question this government, which is becoming increasingly authoritarian and intolerant," said Survival director Stephen Corry.

According to Survival, Duma Boko, an attorney on Mr Good's legal team, had "received a death threat, reportedly from Botswana's intelligence service." Dr Boko is a well-known human rights attorney who is currently acting for the evicted San people of the Central Kalahari Reserve.

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