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Botswana General Elections 2019 Commence

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

Africa | Botswana October 23, 2019

Voters in Botswana on October 23, 2019 went to polling stations to cast their votes in the country's 2019 general elections. In this Southern African nation, general elections are two-tier entailing two levels of voting, namely, national level and local level. At the national level, voters elect 57 members of the country's National Assembly, while at the local level they elect 490 local government representatives. The head of state is a president who is elected by the National Assembly, with leader of the winning party usually taking the position. Therefore, as regards election of head of state, the electoral system in Botswana disregards the popular vote.

In 2019 general elections, the ruling party Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) under incumbent President Mokgweetsi Masisi will been trying to maintain its invincibility, having won all previous elections since the country's independence from British colonial rule in 1966. Notwithstanding, however, that may not be easy this time.

Unlike previous general elections in which BDP often faced weak and fragmented opposition, on this occasion the opposition is said to be united, well organized, and strong; consisting of a coalition of three political parties called Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). The latter was founded in 2012 and is led by Duma Boko. Also, closely working with UDC is a new political party called Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), founded by former President Ian Khama and led by Biggie Butale. During the election campaign, ex-President Khama is said to have urged people of Botswana to vote for the opposition.

During the election campaign, the opposition promised to create 100 000 jobs if they win, to reduce unemployment in Botswana that currently stands at 20% of the population. Furthermore, they are said to have lambasted the ruling party for, among others, excluding the people of Botswana from the country's major sectors of the economy like construction and retailing, that they said are dominated by foreigners particularly Chinese and some other Asians. Citizens only dominate one sector, namely, the informal sector, they argued.

Botswana is among the biggest producers of diamonds in the world. As such, given its tiny population size of only 2.2 million, the country has a fairly high GDP per capita. However, despite the wealth, income inequality in Botswana is currently said to be one of the highest in the world. That raises questions about whether the country is truly a success story in Africa as purported in some quarters, particularly from a social-economic perspective!


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