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Thapelo, Teedzani Davis (1998) The political economy of stratified distribution in rural Botswana 1966-1996: State, peasants and agro-pastoral reforms. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Botswana has the unusual reputation of being the only country in Southern Africa that has experienced consistently high rates of rapid economic growth since independence. Researchers emphasise this exceptionality, and many times the case of Botswana has been invoked to support the thesis that the feasibility of development in the Third World hinges on the existence of compatible political democratic structures and economic developmental efforts. The dynamics of internal development, however, have by and large been neglected, giving rise to undue and often misleading generalisations. This thesis is a critique of the Botswana postcolonial development model. It deploys a structural approach to dissect and analyse the economic development of Botswana in an historical perspective. Development literature is replete with macro-economic analyses that purport to illustrate how the Botswana state achieved optimal economic gains through prudent management of the economy and political liberalisation. However, there is, as yet, little else to indicate how the state has broadened the set of beneficiaries - especially amongst the peasantry. The present study demonstrates how agrarian transformation, stimulated by widespread borehole technology in the face of consistently available revenue from a booming mining sector, has influenced social relations of production and class differentiation in Botswana. It shows how the state ruthlessly exploited available revenue to sustain its hegemony - ensuring the preservation of a minority ruling class coalition and the marginalisation of well over two-thirds of the population in the process. The analysis thus demonstrates that Botswana, just like other mineral-rich African countries, has failed to direct development towards the rural sector. It essentially debunks the myth surrounding the exceptionality of the Botswana state.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 14:59

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