Monday, October 27, 2014

Botswana: Opposition make gains despite election defeat

Botswanan opposition parties won the most seats since the southern African country became independent from the U.K. in 1966 even as Ian Khama was elected to a second and final term as president and his Botswana Democratic Party secured a majority.
The Botswana Democratic Party won 37 out of 57 parliamentary seats, cutting its number of lawmakers by four, according to final results from the Oct. 24 elections released by the Botswana Independent Electoral Commission yesterday. The Umbrella for Democratic Change won 17 seats while the Botswana Congress Party secured three.
Botswana, the world’s biggest diamond producer, has been ruled by Khama’s BDP for almost 50 years. This uninterrupted rule has fostered the perception among some voters that Khama, the 61-year-old son of Botswana’s first president, Seretse Khama, is aloof and the government is “inefficient, lazy and arrogant,” said Gary van Staden, a political analyst at NKC Independent Analysts in Paarl, near Cape Town in neighboring South Africa.
Khama will be inaugurated tomorrow. The nation’s new Parliament will meet for the first time the following day, when the vice president will also be announced.
“The ruling party exceeded most opinion polls and my own projections,” Ndulamo Morima, a lawyer and political analyst, said in a telephone interview from Gaborone.
The head of the Africa Union Election Observer Mission, Joyce Banda, told journalists in a Gaborone briefing earlier that the polling was free and fair.
Diamonds mined by a government venture with De Beers have helped to transform Botswana from a poor, cattle-ranching society into one of Africa’s success stories with estimated gross domestic product per capita in 2013 of $7,317, higher than $6,618 in neighboring South Africa, according to the World Bank. About 1.8 million people live in Botswana.

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