BOTSWANA; 5O YEARS OF PEACE & STABLE DEMOCRACY IN THE WORLD’S CORE OF DIAMONDS

Pre-Independence History

Botswana on the Map of Africa

BOTSWANA was known as BECHUANALAND during the British Rule between March 1885 up until September 1966 when it gained its Independence.

Sir Seretse Khama born in a powerful African Royal Family in Bechuanaland known as Bamangwato rose to be the King of Bamangwato at the Age of 4 with his Uncle as the Regent in 1925 when his Father Sekgoma 2 who was the King died. While schooling in London Khama married a White Lady known as Ruth Williams. This sparked Anger among his Bamangwato People with which the neighboring South Africa Apartheid Regime used to influenced his Ouster as King of Bamangwato in 1950 and his subsequent Exile in London.After a series of Protests by his People who refused to replace him; He Khama and his Wife Ruth were allowed to return to Bechuanaland as private Citizens in1956.

In November 1961 Khama made a comeback to the Political Scene with a New Party which he Named ‘Bechuanaland Democratic Party’ with which he alongside other Pro-Independence Nationalists used to further push for Independence. Being an organized idealistic Party; BDP won the 1965 Legislative Elections with a Landslide which saw Seretse Khama rise to become Bechuanaland’s Prime Minister with his Party Secretary-general Quett Masire as his Deputy.

With their Positions, the Two made the final Negotiation for Independence and on 30th September 1966 Bechuanaland was gained its Independence from the British Rule. It was upon this renamed as the Republic of Botswana with Seretse Khama as its first President and Quett Masire as his Vice President as per the 1965 Self-Government Constitution.

Post-Independence Botswana

January 1967 Diamond Rocks known as Kimberlite were discovered at Orapa Central Botswana by a British Diamond Exploration Company known as ‘De Beers’.

The first Multi-Party Democratic General Elections in Botswana were held on October 1969. 77 Candidates in 4 Political Parties contesting to Govern this budding Democracy. The reigning Independence Party that had been renamed to ‘Botswana Democratic Party’ won this Election with a Landslide Victory winning 24/31 Elective Positions. Khama under Parliamentary Democracy was smoothly Re-elected back into Office by the National Assembly. BDP went on to win the 1974 and 1979 Elections with Landslide Victory giving Khama an easy way back to Office.

On 13th July 1980 President Seretse Khama who was 59-years old succumbed to Pancreatic Cancer while in Office. Quett Masire his Vice President immediately took over in acting capacity as per the Constitution; Five Days later Masire was confirmed as the new President in a National Assembly Vote of 18th July1980 with Festus Mogae, Peter Mmusi and Lenyeletse Seretse.

The BDP went on to win the 1984, 1989 and 1994 Elections with Landslide Victory giving President Quett Masire and easy hop from one Term to another. President Masire voluntarily resigned towards the end of his Third Term on April 1998 to engage in Diplomatic Initiatives leaving his Vice President Festus Mogae to take over ahead of the 1999 Elections. Quett Masire an esteemed Statesman and Diplomat died on 22nd June 2017 at the Age of 92-years. Again BDP won the 1999 Elections with a Landslide Victory and Festus Mogae was elected by the National Assembly as the new President. Mogae was Re-elected for his Second Term upon BDP’s Victory in the 2004 Elections.

18 Months to the end of his Second Term Festus Mogae who is now 80-years old  stepped down to allow for Transition leaving his Vice President Lt.Gen Ian Khama the Son of Botswana’s first President to steer the Country ahead of the 2009 Elections.

Again BDP won the 2009 Elections with a Landslide Victory and Ian Khama was confirmed as the new President. It went ahead to win the 2014 Elections this time losing the Popular Vote to the collective Opposition. It nonetheless maintained the National Assembly Majority thus securing President Ian Khama’s Second Term. President Ian who is now 66-Years old also stepped down on April 2018 a Year+ towards the end of his Second Term like his Predecessor to give time for Transition. He chose his 56-Years old Deputy Mokgweetsi Masisi to take over ahead of the October 2019 Elections.

Botswana October 2019 General Election

For the first time since 1969 when BDP took Power it is in this Election slated for 23rd October 2019 going to face a serious Challenge from the Opposition. With its Strongholds weakening since the 2014 Election; BDP is going into this Competitive High-stakes Election without its Significant Strongholds. Former President Ian Khama who still has Influence especially in Central Botswana broke ranks with his former Vice President and Successor President Mokgweetsi on April 2019 over bitter Policy and Ideology differences that have seen President Masisi overturn Key Policies of Ian’s Adminstration. Ian has as a result  quit and left BDP his Father’s Party that made him President and registered his own Breakaway Party known as ‘Botswana Patriotic Front’ on June 2019 which he is now seriously campaigning for alongside UDC (an Alliance of different Parties) which is the main Opposition in a bid to defeat the 50-years old BDP. He recently in a Campaign Rally went on record saying BDP is now a dead Party.

Six Political Parties will contest in this Election with Four of them fielding Presidential Candidates. President Mokgweetsi’s Long-ruling BDP Party is hoping to get confirmed by the Electorate, Mr. Duma Boko via UDC (Umbrella for Democratic Change) which is the main Opposition, Mr. Biggie Butale via the BPF (Botswana Democratic Front) and Mr. Ndaba Gaolathe via the AP (Alliance for Progressives). The Party that will win 29/57 Constituencies which is the Majority in the National Assembly will produce the 6th President of Botswana. Out of 1.6 Eligible Voters only 925,000 have been registered to vote in this Election.

The 4 Presidential Candidates in Botswana 2019 Election
L-R: Duma Boko, Biggie Butale, Incumbent President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Ndaba Gaolathe

Botswana Fact File

  • Botswana is the World’s largest producer and exporter of Diamonds in terms of Value. A recent discovery on April 2019 by a Canadian Diamond Mining Company in Botswana found a 1758 Carat-Diamond which is the Second largest Diamond to be discovered in History
  • Botswana is the Second most peaceful Country in Africa after Mauritius. It is the most Stable Democracy in Africa now flourishing with 50-years of Free and Fair Multi-Party Electoral Democracy often regarded as the epitome of Democracy
  • Despite being among Africa’s Top 25 biggest Countries in Area Size; Botswana is one of Africa’s most sparsely populated Countries now with a Total Population of 2.3 Million People. Kenya which is almost the same Size as Botswana has a Total Population of 50 Million People.
  • Botswana’s GDP currently stands at about 18 Billion U$D with Botswana Pula as the Country’s Currency
  • English is the Official Language while Setswana is the National Language with Christianity being the main Religion
  • Gaborone is the Capital City of Botswana.

Botswana’s Governing Party BDP;in Power since Independence in 1966 was again on October 26,2019 declared the Winner of this Election having Won 38/57 Seats in Parliament (66%) thereby guaranteeing President Mokgweetsi Masisi a smooth sail to a fresh Five-years Mandate. Coming Second was the Main Opposition Party UDC which managed to Win 15/57 Seats. The newly formed Opposition Party BPF Won 3 Seats with AP coming last with 1 Seat at the Country’s Parliament.

(Photos Courtesy)

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