'Attack' on liberty

February 25, 2005

Last week, my colleague and friend Kenneth Good presented a paper, co-written with me, at the University of Botswana titled "Presidential Succession in Botswana: No model for Africa". It was a critique of what we both see as growing autocracy in the so-called "model of Africa" - with which many Times Higher readers may be familiar through the idyllic portrayal in the lady detective books by Alexander McCall Smith.

On the evening of February 18, a group of men came to Ken's house. They did not identify themselves but told Ken that they had a message from the President, Festus Mogae - Ken was a prohibited immigrant and was given 48 hours to leave the country.

Ken is 72 and has a young daughter still at school. They live alone together. The only other time he has faced deportation was from Rhodesia by its then Prime Minister Ian Smith. Smith gave him longer to leave than the Botswana Government did.

Ken has appealed to the courts, which have ordered the Government not to harass him and his daughter and to appear on March 7 to consider the case.

This incident deserves to be widely publicised. It is an attack on scholarship and liberty - and it is being done by the so-called "shining beacon of African democracy".

I appeal to British academics to write to the President of Botswana's office to condemn this state of affairs.The email address is jramsay@gov.bw

Ian Taylor
St Andrews University

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