Critical academic fights efforts to deport him

March 11, 2005

Lawyers representing Kenneth Good, the Australian academic who faces expulsion from Botswana after delivering a paper questioning its reputation as a democracy, this week began the process of challenging a presidential decree in the courts.

Papers were filed on Monday for a case scheduled to begin in April that will test the constitutional right of President Festus Mogae to declare Professor Good a prohibited immigrant (PI).

Last month, Professor Good, who has worked in Botswana for 17 years, was served with an order declaring him a PI. He and his daughter were given 48 hours to leave the country. The Government has given no reason for the order, but none is required under law as it is a presidential decree.

Professor Good, who has a doctorate in political science from McGill University in Montreal, was to give a seminar at the university on Presidential Succession in Botswana: No Model for Africa . His co-author, Ian Taylor, is at St Andrews University.

Professor Good believes the PI was intended to stop him delivering the paper because it was unflattering to the Government - it questions the process of presidential succession.

The authorities may also have been irked by a discussion paper he published in 2003, titled Bushmen and Diamonds: (Un)Civil Society in Botswana . In it, he questions Botswana's reputation for good governance and takes up the case of the removal of the San bushmen from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in 2002, which he says favoured mineral exploitation over minority rights.

Professor Good's lawyers won an interim stay of the order until March 7.

The Government tried unsuccessfully to challenge his right of access to the High Court. During the flurry of legal activity, he delivered the lecture as scheduled at the university, while a judge ruled that the High Court could hear his case and that he could continue to live in Botswana under the same conditions as prior to his being declared a PI.

Besides his criticisms of the presidential succession and the treatment of the San, Professor Good attacked the decision to site Botswana's second university in an area near the homes of the President and the Vice-President although it lacks the infrastructure to support such an institution. Last week, the Government confirmed that the university would be at Palapye, home of the Vice-President, even though a task force had argued that it should be located in an area with existing industry.

Professor Good was deported from Rhodesia in 1973 after a student demonstration. He came to Botswana in 1989. He is not a member of any political party.

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