Building a Conservative Welfare State in Botswana
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Overviews of welfare regimes in Africa distinguish typically between themiddle-income countries of southern Africa (including Botswana) and the lower-income countries elsewhere on the continent (Garcia and Moore 2012;Niño-Zarazúa et al. 2012). The more expansive welfare states in the southernAfrican countries are said to have been‘driven by settler elites’prior to the mid-1990s, and by a mix of newly democratic politics and ‘sub-regional demonstration effects’ thereafter (Niño-Zarazúa et al. 2012: 165–6). South Africa’s welfarestate did indeed originate in the racist politics of the early twentieth century (Seekings 2007), and Namibia’s welfare state reflects its history as a de facto colony of South Africa (Devereux 2007). Settler politics do not explain the origins of the welfare states in either Mauritius or Botswana, however. The Mauritian welfare state resulted from the distinctive political economy of Mauritius, with a large agricultural Indo-Mauritian working class on sugar plantations and a growing Indo-Mauritian middle class (Seekings 2011; Ulriksen2012). Botswana had neither a significant population of settlers or immigrants nor the class structure of either South Africa or Mauritius, yet it too built a substantial welfare state in the late twentieth century - to the point that the extent of the welfare state generated widespread anxiety among the country’s elite.