The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) appears set to return to government if the preliminary results of Friday’s election are anything to go by. According to the public broadcasting of the results, of the 57 seats that are being contested for direct representation, the ruling party had, by end of day on Saturday, amassed 33 seats while the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) had managed 14 with the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) bringing up the rear with only two seats.
According to the Botswana constitution, there are 57 directly elected members of parliament with the new parliament electing four more as well as the president. In addition to these, the country’s attorney general also becomes a member of parliament, bringing the total to 63 members of parliament.
In the last election in 2009, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) managed to obtain 79% of the country’s votes. This time around, it appears that they will only be able to go as far as 71%, that is, if they manage to win the remaining eight seats that are yet to be declared. The current president, Ian Khama who is the son of the country’s first president after independence from Britain in 1966, Sir Seretse Khama, has drawn widespread criticism for introducing a 50% tax on alcoholic drinks. In addition, his first tenure has been dogged by a slow down in the economy resulting from a reduced demand for diamonds, the country’s cash cow. This has resulted in an unemployment rate of around 20%. The BDP has however scored highly with traditional voters due to high spending in education and welfare. The opposition has, however, taken advantage of the growing discontent among young voters and urban voters who say, for what its worth, change is needed after nearly five decades of BDP rule. A general overview of the elections has shown that the ruling Botswana Democratic Party has also performed very strongly in the council elections. This shows how much it has entrenched itself in the country’s grassroots. The opposition has, on the other hand, made a strong showing in the urban areas particularly in Gaborone, the capital.
In his campaign for a second term, Khama promised that he would bring down the country’s unemployment and poverty. He has, however, become unpopular with the country’s labour groups for introducing more stringent labour laws.