Hard work begins for Botswana’s Masisi after unlikely win

The President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, delivers his speech after being sworn in as the 5th President of the country in Gaborone on November 1, 2019. PHOTO | MONIRUL BHUIYAN | AFP

Botswana’s ruling party may have survived its biggest election scare in the October 23 polls since it came to power 53 years ago, but its biggest test—fulfilling election pledges that bordered on populism—lies ahead.

Some of President Mokgweetsi Masisi election promises include increasing the salaries of soldiers, police and prison officers.

He also pledged to accelerate job creation and introduce electric cars. This comes in the wake of rising unpopularity over its decision to lift a ban on game and trophy hunting.

Political analysts say the outcome of the recent election should not lull the Botswana Democratic Party into a false sense of security as the legacy of former president Ian Khama—who backed the opposition with mixed results—would loom large in the next five years.

“The government has retained power, but challenges lie ahead as it celebrates victory. At stake is the country’s glowing reputation for democracy and prosperity,” said Mr Kirby.

He noted that the “personalised nature” of the fight between President Masisi and former head Lt Gen Khama had distracted the ruling party from core policy issues and it was time for the party to get back to basics.