Botswana Office
P.O. Box 18
Gaborone, Botswana

Phone: (+ 267) 3952 441
Fax: (+ 267) 3930 821


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Chronology of FES in Botswana

The year started with the reform of the BFTU constitution. After several meetings and consultations, a first draft was presented to the General Council of BFTU and BOPEU in July. The new constitution proposed comprehensive changes in the working of the federation and the relationship to its affiliates. FES remains an active partner in the whole process which will continue in 2017 with the discussion of the draft constitution by a special congress.
A month earlier, BFTU and BOPEU visited the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to learn more about the running of a paralegal system. FES and ZCTU have been partners for many years in the paralegal system in Zimbabwe and support the cooperation between both federations. The plan is to build up a trade union based system, owned by unions and run by unions. In the moment; a situation analysis is under way in order to understand the need of workers in the work place and to map the landscape for the paralegal work. The study will be ready by April 2017.
At the invitation of FES, a BOPEU delegation visited Germany in May. The study tour focused on issues surrounding the establishment of a trade union education system. BOPEU is planning to open a workers’ college which will be open to all trade unions and civil society organizations. The certification process was completed end of 2016 and the college will function at the beginning of 2017.
The 5th Youth Leadership Training Program was held in Lobatse under the patronage of Ms Alice Mogwe, Director of the Botswana Human Rights Centre, Ditshwanelo. Earlier in the year, Alumni of the previous YLTP organized outreach activities on “Botswana’s Foreign Policy” under the banner “Pizza, Pops, and Politics”. They organized a series of four debates with ambassadors, journalists, researchers and policy makers, and, also, a political exhibition on the campus of the University of Botswana. In May, the Alumni organized a public panel discussion with the participation of former foreign ministers and ambassadors on “50 Years of Botswana Foreign Policy”.
The second outreach activity was organized in October in the Jwaneng area together with the Sese Village Development Committee. The focus was on social justice and sustainability issues.
End of November organized together with the Sociology Department of the University of Botswana a symposium with the title “Partisan trade unionism revisited: Challenges and prospects for trade union renewal in Southern Africa”. The discussion showed that under the conditions of one-party-dominated systems (like in most countries of Southern Africa) political independence remains a challenge for trade unions. On the other hand, (left) opposition parties see trade unions very often not only as “natural” partners, but as “structures” which can be used for campaigns and during elections.
FES supported the development of a turn-around-strategy for the national NGO Centre “BOCONGO”. Part of this renewed partnership was the organization of a policy advisory meeting on social rights and the role of civil society in formulating and implementing social protection policy. In order to support the reform process, FES advised and supported BOGONGO during the process of formulating a new communication strategy. The process will continue during 2017.
Together with the FES Trade Union Competence Centre in Johannesburg, FES Botswana conducted a base line study on the retail company “Choppies”. Retail MNCs are known for their reliance on precarious form of employment and knowing their strategies and policies will enable trade unions to pursue their goal of decent work for employees in this sector.
FES is part of a fundamental political reform program which includes the workings of political institutions, political parties and civil society organizations. The program will be continued in the coming year.
After a SWOT-Analysis and a prioritization of the identified issues, BFTU and its affiliates, as well as, BOPEU (a member of BOFEPUSU) adopted a comprehensive internal reform and renewal program to focus on the strengthening of the shop steward level. For the first five years, the unions will re-write the BFTU’s constitution and will develop ‘blue prints’ for all affiliates; develop a worker’s training program; establish a paralegal system; and develop a code of conduct for trade union investments and membership schemes. FES will be the partner in the implementation of all reform steps.
The governing BDP realized that the victory in the last elections may not be sustainable and that there was a growing danger of losing the next elections in 2019. Because of the electoral system, the danger of being ‘wiped out’ is real. The Party Congress in July 2015 adopted a political reform process which will entail electoral reform and reform of the party finance.
The Youth Leadership Training Program (YLTP) took place for the fourth time, with a new format. The core of the program consisted of five modules: social justice; environment; economic development; foreign policy, and labour market policy. The Patron of the 2015 YLTP was Hon. David Magang.
In 2015, the first YLTP outreach activity was conducted in a remote area of the country to discuss sustainability issues with the villagers and to learn more about the real situation on the ground.
Botswana took over the SADC chairmanship during the SADC summit in Gaborone in August.
The SADC-Summit in Gaborone presented a ‘golden opportunity” to lobby the Botswana Government campaign for the signing of the Gender Protocol. Together with various organizations, FES organized activities to put pressure on the government. But the government refused to budge from its position and did not sign the Gender Protocol.
During the year, the FES Sustainability Project transferred to Madagascar from Botswana.
In July, FES and The Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC Countries (ECF-SADC) held a regional policy conference on “Effective Policy Interventions for Strengthening Electoral Integrity – Lessons learnt from the 2013/2014 elections in the SADC-Region”.
The Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR), Cape Town, South Africa, and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) office in Gaborone hosted a two-day policy advisory group seminar in Gaborone on “Region-Building and Peace-building in Southern Africa”. The Botswana seminar assessed key issues on region-building and peace-building in Southern Africa while analyzing South Africa’s leadership role in the sub-region.
On the 24th of October 2014, the 11th General Elections since Botswana’s independence were held, resulting in another victory for the Botswana Democratic Party and the second term for Lt. General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama as President. For the first time, the BDP received fewer votes than all other parties combined but due to the FPTP-system, BDP was able to secure 65 Percent of seats in Parliament.
SATUCC, with the support of FES, convened a seminar to enable the workers’ constituency to prepare for the 2014 SADC Ministers of Labour and Social Partners meeting and to strategize on how to effectively monitor implementation of codes and policies on youth employment within the SADC region.
The focus of the project work was on an analysis of the internal issues of the trade unions and the development of comprehensive strategies and activities to overcome the identified problems. Both federations and their affiliates took part in the first steps of the reform process. Later, BOFEPUSU pulled out of the reform project.
The Youth Leadership Program was evaluated and the format and content adjusted to cater for new perspectives and goals. In future, the focus of the program will be the promotion of active citizen engagement. This adjustment will strengthen the outreach components of the program.
In August, the FES Project on Sustainability and Climate Change organized a conference on “Are Diamonds there forever? – Prospects of a Sustainable Development Model for Botswana”.
In November, the SADC Council of Non-Governmental Organization and FES organized a SADC Brainstorming Meeting to develop a strategy and ‘Plan of Action’ for the revitalization of the National Committees in the SADC region.
Dr Ulrich Golaszinski became the new Botswana Office Resident Representative and took over the project coordination for the SADC region. He took over from Helmut Elischer, who took over the FES representation in Zambia.
De Beers relocated the worldwide sales organization from London to Gaborone. The year was dominated by the upcoming elections and the primary elections. The second trade union umbrella organization in Botswana, BOFEPUSU, demanded a ‘regime change’ and successfully initiated a negative campaigning initiative against BDP candidates. Many cabinet members were not re-nominated in their constituencies.
In May, FES and the SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF) held a National Consultative Workshop on the “Domestication and Institutionalization of Benchmarks for Democratic Legislature in Southern Africa” for the Parliament of Botswana. The “benchmarks” were developed with the help of FES and gave tips on how to improve the parliamentary work in the SADC region.
Together with the Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organizations (BOCONGO), FES organized a series of countrywide workshops on the issues of social justice and public policy. The results of the hearings were presented to Parliament and the Ministry of Finance.
FES supported the Gender Alliance in lobbying the Government of Botswana to sign the SADC Gender Protocol. Several meetings with political representatives were organized, a national Gender Forum was established, and the publication of the annual Gender-Barometer supported.
Given the positive experience with FES’ Youth Leadership Programs in other countries, it was decided to start such a program in Botswana. On several weekends throughout the year, young leaders received a value based trained on social democracy and leadership.
The parliamentary parties BMD (Botswana Movement for Democracy) and BNF (Botswana National Front) joined together to form the UDC (Umbrella for Democratic Change).
The FES Office in Botswana welcomed Markus Schneider, who will coordinate the regional project on sustainability.
The coordination of the FES-Regional Project for Southern Africa is handed over to the Botswana office.
The year is characterized by a public sector strike lasting for eight weeks. Due to riots, school closures and non-functioning hospitals, the strike raised questions related to distributive and social justice.
Botswana (as the first country in Africa) hosted the 5th World Conference of Election Commissions, co-organized by the FES partner organization ECF (Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC). FES continued to support SADC-CNGO in organizing the Civil Society Forum, which is held before the annual SADC Summit. The objective is to give civil society a voice in the process of regional integration in Southern Africa.
The series of workshops “Local Leadership for Local Democracy” was successfully completed. Analysis and corresponding publications by the University of Botswana are now available for all districts of the country.
Members of the ruling party BDP form the BMD (Botswana Movement for Democracy).

Together with the Caucus for Women, FES formulated a national strategy for the implementation of women quotas in politics. In cooperation with the partner organizations Women Commission, Gender Links and BALA, FES made a crucial contribution to the adjustment of national to regional standards.
Within the framework of the Economic Policy Forum, the conference “Explaining Botswana’s Growth Paradox – Economic Diversification” and the “Social Justice, Gender and Policy Debates” economic and social irregularities were discussed with government representatives to revitalize the reform debate.
2009 The activities in 2009 are dominated by the upcoming elections. In Cooperation with IEC and a coalition of the civil society groups democratic standards and their application for credible elections are in the centre of voter education programmes. Specific programmes are run for women with the CAUCUS and for the youth with BNYC. Elections are held in October, the local NGO-Network BESNet is supported in monitoring the elections for the civil society.

The Parliament of Botswana and the Inter Parliamentary Union are supported in organising an international conference on The State of Democracy in Africa with participants from parliaments all over Africa. The regional activities form a growing part of FES-Botswana’s work. An extensive programme on elections in the SADC Region is executed with ECF-SADC. With SADC-CNGO the participation of the civil society in the regional integration process is supported with a range of activities. The application of the SADC Genderprotocol is support with the SADC Gender Unit and the Gender Alliance.
2008 In April, H.E. Ian Khama was inaugurated as the fourth president of Botswana.

The Foundation launches the publications Social Security in Botswana and Transparency Accountability and Corruption in Botswana.

With the BFTU the publications Trade Unions in Botswana, Collective and Individual Labour Law are realised.

With BOCONGO the first National Civil Society Forum is organised and prepares the delegates for the regional SADC Civil Society Forum.

With BNYC the Youth Empowerment Forums and the Youth District Councils are in the centre of activities.
2007 Helmut Elischer takes over the project from Marc Meinardus.

A National Conference "Enhancing good governance through local democracy" is organised with BALA and opened by H.E. President Festus Mogae.

The Trade Union Federation BFTU holds its congress and elects a new board and president.
2006 Botswana celebrates 40 Years of Independence. FES participates in the official programme with a number of activities with our partners BOCONGO, BNYC, the Women Affairs Department and the Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis, BIDPA. With the latter a conference on "Economic Development and Diversification" was organised as the highlight of the programme.

A new working line on Regional Integrations begins to take shape. In cooperation with the Department for International Trade (DIT) in the Ministry of Trade and Industry a number of workshops on the role of Botswana in the WTO, in SACU and in SADC are organised.

On 13 December, after four years, the longest and most extensive court case of Botswana history, the case on the forceful relocation of Basarwa from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, CKGR was decided in favour of the Basarwa. They may now return to CKGR, albeit without getting Government support for basic facilities, such as water, health care and schooling.
2005 The first democratic elections in Botswana were held in February 1965. FES memorizes the "40 Years of Democracy in Botswana" with a high level Symposium looking back at 40 years of successful and stable democracy. H.E President Mogae opens the event. A book with the same title is launched in cooperation with the Democracy Research Project (DRP) of the University of Botswana.

BALA becomes more active and organises with support from the project a series of workshops on “Local Leadership for Local democracy” which over the next Years shall cover all districts of the country.
2004 The upcoming elections dominate the content of FES Programmes. In Cooperation with IEC and the BNYC voter education programmes especially for youth are implemented. The project with CAUCUS on mobilizing women politicians continues until June. Elections are held in November, the local NGO-Network BESNet is supported in monitoring the elections.

A national conference on social security marks the beginning of a new project line on social policy. First emphasis is put on developing a comprehensive and inclusive social security policy for Botswana.

The dialogue on economic policy focuses on the implementation of the new privatisation policy. Together with the Public Enterprise Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) various workshops are organised to involve non-state actors in the ongoing debate.
2003 Marc Meinardus succeeds Michael Meier as resident representative. Margaret Nasha, now Minister of Lands and Housing and president of CAUCUS participates in the first "Africa Days" of FES in Bonn, Germany.

In preparation for the elections in 2004, FES Botswana, with the support of the British Embassy and DFID, launches a workshop programme called “Positioning Women Politicians for 2004 and Beyond”, implemented with the CAUCUS as main partner.
2002 The project enters into further cooperation with Parliament as well as with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). A study on the independence of the Botswana Parliament is initiated. The study is supported by experts from Germany, Canada and Botswana.
2001 FES supports founding the Botswana Chapter of Transparency International. FES moves into its present office in the “Village” near the University of Botswana.

A "Code of Conduct" for NGOs is elaborated together with BOCONGO. For the first time, a NGO week is organised with public discussion forums and presentation of NGOs.

A national conference on "Gender and HIV/AIDS" is organized together with UNDP, GTZ and the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs.
2000 Michael Meier takes over from Peter Oesterdiekhoff as resident representative. He further develops cooperation with different partners of civil society, especially with the women organisations Emang Basadi, CAUCUS as well as with the NGO umbrella organisation BOCONGO.

President Festus Mogae visits Berlin for the 75th anniversary of FES in Germany.

An international conference on "Labour Markets in Southern Africa-Strategies for Growth and the Creation of Jobs" is held in Gaborone. The conference is organized by FES and the World Bank.
1999 As one of the first activities in the new programme line of youth policy, FES supports the University of Botswana in an empirical study on "aspirations of youth". Main Partner in this project line is the Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC).
1998 FES celebrates 25 years in Botswana. On this occasion, the former president Sir Ketumile Masire emphasis the contribution made by FES in strengthening democracy. A regional conference on Gender is organised together with the Gender Unit of the SADC Secretariat, the women organisation “Emang Basadi” and the CAUCUS.
1997 With the support of FES Botswana and in close cooperation with the then minister for local government, Margaret Nasha, the „Caucus for Women in Politics“ (CAUCUS) is founded with the objective of mobilising women to actively participate in the politics of their country and thus to get more women into local councils and parliament.
1996 Peter Oesterdiekhoff becomes the new project coordinator. His focus is on economic policy and promotion. Project support to the SRDA is phased out, RIP and RIIC continue operating on its own. From 1996 onwards FES has only one consolidated project directed by one project coordinator and resident representative.
1995 Vice-President Festus Mogae visits Germany to join the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of FES. One of the members of this delegation is Kaire Mbuende, the executive secretary of SADC. On the occasion of his visit a "Memorandum of Understanding" is signed which defines the elements of future cooperation between FES and the SADC Secretariat. A first effort is made in fostering cooperation of Small and Medium Enterprises in the Region.
1994 Kurt Häsemeyer succeeds Heinz Bendt as project coordinator. Direct cooperation with the BDP is phased out completely. Instead, a special emphasis is put on community based economic assistance. Besides ongoing activities on Small and Medium Enterprise Development, a regional networking of the umbrella organization on the level of SADC-states, the "Small Enterprise Promotion Advisory Council" (SEPAC) is promoted.
1993 FES Botswana together with FES Mozambique organise a regional conference on "Human Rights and Democracy in Southern Africa". Parliamentarians, trade unionists and human rights organisations from all over the region participate. "Local Economic Development" is a concept intensively propagated in cooperation with the Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) in different seminaries on the national level.
1991 Sir Ketumile Masire – now president of Botswana – is invited by the FES to visit Germany.
1990 Heinz Bendt follows Christian Schmittlein as project coordinator. Besides further developing the programme on local governance, first steps are made to establish a regional party cooperation. Türkan Karakurt joins the office as FES project assistant.
1986 Christian Schmittlein takes over the coordination of the project from Uwe Carstens. The political education programme with the BDP is scaled down, training for parliamentarians and the strengthening of parliamentary and ministerial administrations is enhanced.
1985 A regional component of the trade union cooperation begins with the regional umbrella union SATUCC, based in Gaborone.
1984 Uwe Carstens follows Erfried Adam as project coordinator. He concentrates on party support and trade union work.
1980 Erfried Adam succeeds Klaus Helfer as project coordinator. A revised version of the agreement between the government of Botswana and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation is signed. It has been renewed regularly ever since and remains the basis of operation of FES until today.

Erfried Adam establishes a socio-political dialogue in which trade union representatives (BFTU), employers (BOCCIM) and government representatives come together to debate various labour issues. He also initiates a project line on local governance.
1978 Thomas Künzer joins Klaus Helfer as FES expert for the political education programmes.
1977 Because of the success of the Rural Industries Innovation Centre a new subsidiary company called "Southern Rural Development Authority" (SRDA) is set up with the objective of assisting people in founding small enterprises. In the following years a variety of new production lines are initiated and with it numerous jobs and small companies are created. In 1979 Werner Ohligschläger takes over from Wolfgang Schunke. Until its final phase out in 1996 the projects of RIIC and SDSR are run subsequently by FES-staff Holger Munsch, Reinhard Dowe, Manfred Böhmer, Dieter Schwonke, Lothar Birkhan, Helmut Zell, Fritz Wörmer and Mirko Hempel.
1976 Friedrich Grän starts the trade union project with a focus on strengthening trade unions on the organisational level and to promote trade unionist education. In 1977 the then 10 existing industrial trade unions formed the umbrella organisation "Botswana Federation of Trade Unions" (BFTU). FES is promoting and assisting these efforts substantially. Friedrich Grän is followed by Karlheinz Krug in 1981. The Project ends in December 1982.
1975 Klaus Helfer and Quett Masire establish a company called "Rural Industries Promotion" (RIP) with the objective to reduce poverty and unemployment in remote areas and thus help to establish small-scale industries. As one of the first projects of the company, the "Rural Industries Innovation Center" (RIIC) is founded in Kanye with Wolfgang Schunke as the first project director. The RIIC develops simple production technologies and trains local staff.

Klaus-Peter Treydte and later Bernd Weimer, Theo Mutter, Joachim Jeske, Klaus Breutner from the research division of FES in Germany begin a cooperation with the "National Institute for Research in Development and African Studies" (NIRDAS) of University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. The objective is to comprehend current empirical research projects in Botswana and to collect and categorise literature of international organisations and other research institutes about Botswana and Southern Africa. This project runs until the end of 1981.
1974 Klaus Helfer and then vice president Quett K.J. Masire sign the first agreement between the Government of Botswana and the FES.

Arne von Kittlitz from the German radio station "Deutsche Welle" initiates the media project (followed by Matthias Deltgen in 1977 and Gerd Manstein in 1980). On the plot of Radio Botswana a training centre for radio-journalist is build and equipped. The training courses are first held by the project staff and later by local trainers. The media project is successfully completed in 1982 and handed over to Radio Botswana.
1973 Klaus Helfer, starts the socio-political advisory programme in Gaborone as the first project coordinator and resident representative of FES in Botswana. The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) becomes the main political partner. In the following years an intensive cooperation with the BDP is established in the field of political education.

Seminars and workshops about publicity, organisational development, techniques on election campaigns are held on national and local level. Together with other political and institutional partners Klaus Helfer develops ideas and concepts of project areas in which the Friedrich Ebert Foundation can offer expertise: media development, research, promotion of social structures.

The FES gets an office within the ministry of industries. Klaus Helfer was highly acknowledged by the political leaders of Botswana. His achievements laid the basis for the work of FES in Botswana.
1972 After some first successful activities with partners in Botswana, President Sir Seretse Khama invites FES to come to Botswana and to set up an office here. A separate project for Botswana is approved by the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development.