‘A Very Grave and Expensive Error’?: The Legislative Council’s Debate on the Choice of a New Site for the Capital of Botswana, 1961-1965

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This paper examines the reasons why it was considered appropriate for the capital of Botswana to be relocated in Gaborone from its administrative enclave in Mahikeng (in South Africa) where it had been for seventy years. It further discusses arguments for and against, by members of the then newly formed Legislative Council (Legco) regarding the exact location of the capital of the soon to be independent state. The paper then examines reasons advanced for the decision for the choice of Gaborone among other places as the site of the capital. Finally, the paper takes the view that despite the circumstances of the time which dictated that the fi nal decision be to settle the capital in Gaborone, this was nevertheless a grave and expensive error. Although the decision was arrived at democratically with the support of the overwhelming majority of Legco members, it should be noted that the majority is not always right! In this case the minority seems to have had better foresight.

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