Leading academic faces deportation

A leading academic is fighting expulsion from Botswana following his public criticism of the president and his chosen successor.

President Festus Mogae gave Professor Kenneth Good, a political analyst at the University of Botswana, two days to leave Botswana last week Friday, for lambasting Mogae's decision to handpick Vice-President Lieutenant-General Ian Khama as his successor.

Good co-authored a report titled, 'Presidential Succession in Botswana: No Model for Africa', that allegedly incensed those close to both Mogae and Khama.

He was notified that he had been declared a prohibited immigrant on Friday afternoon, but immediately challenged the expulsion order by lodging an urgent application in the High Court, which had to convene on Saturday to hear the application. The court postponed the case to 7 March, granting him a temporary reprieve until then.

Angered by the order, Good said, "Botswana claims high democratic credibility but behaves in this way - Mogae on Friday gave me 48 hours to leave, but [former Rhodesian Prime Minister] Ian Smith in 1973 gave me five days."

Good has criticised Mogae's management style and Khama's record as commander of the Botswana Defence Force, particularly with regard to the awarding of tenders.

His report also accused Mogae of ignoring the will of the electorate when he reappointed MPs and ministers rejected by their constituencies in the October 2004 general elections as his specially elected members of parliament. Such presidential appointments have traditionally been used to empower young professionals, ethnic minorities and women.

Presidential press secretary Jeff Ramsay told IRIN that "we cannot comment on prohibited immigrant's cases. All I can say is that he [Good] has been declared a prohibited immigrant by the president", and pointed out, "In addition, the matter is before the courts, so any comment could be sub judice."

However, Dumelang Saleshando, an MP from the opposition Botswana Congress Party, said: "I have a problem with the law [on prohibited immigrants] as it stands. Any laws which allow the head of state to take prejudicial action against any citizen or non-citizen, without giving reasons, is archaic and primitive."

"Good is an academic who has been critical of both the ruling party as well as the opposition parties. But such criticisms should be accommodated in a democracy," he commented.

Mogae has stated his intention to step down in 2008 after serving two full terms in office, leaving Khama to assume power ahead of the 2009 general elections.

Khama is the son of the country's first president, Sir Seretse Khama, and leads the Bamangwato - the largest group within the majority Tswana population.