Citizen Engagement in Public Policy Making Process in Africa: The Case of Botswana

Isaac N. Obasi, Mogopodi H. Lekorwe


Acknowledgment: The authors are grateful to the SADC Centre of Specialization in Public Administration and Management (CESPAM), University of Botswana, for supporting the original and earlier version of this paper which was presented at the 2004 Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM) Biennial Conference in Singapore.


This article is a documentary and historical analysis of the experience of Botswana in citizen engagement in the public policy making process before and during the administration of President Festus Mogae that ended in April 2008. Public policy making in many African countries has long been dominated by a ‘top-down approach’ which is a hangover from either the long period of military dictatorship in many of the countries or from the authoritarian one-party system in some of them. Many existing participatory mechanisms only provide symbolic forms of participation. However, Botswana to a large extent is an exception as decentralized planning is a priority in the governance process with its citizen engagement process rooted in the consultative framework of traditional ‘kgotla’ democratic system of governance. Although active participative form of citizen engagement is yet to be fully achieved, Botswana’s existing citizen engagement mechanisms are no doubt a model for other African countries to emulate.

Keywords: Public policy, Citizen engagement, Decentralization, Citizen participation, Traditional Kgotla system, civic participation.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5731 ISSN (Online)2225-0972

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