Polling Stations Have Officially Opened in Botswana
At least 1.2 million Batswana people will be casting their votes today in a highly contested election.
At least 2000 polling stations have officially opened as of this morning in Botswana, according to EWN. Yesterday, the Botswana Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) announced that it anticipates 1.2 million people casting their votes for both national parliament and local government councils. All results are expected to be in by Friday in what has been described as one of the most highly contested election in years.
Four political parties have dominated Botswana's election campaigns. The BBC reports that three of the opposition parties have all united as a coalition government under one party termed the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). While the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has been in power since the country obtained it's independence from the British back in 2016, it is believed that it stands a real chance of losing this year's election.
Recently, the country's former president, Ian Khama, took a swipe at his successor Mokgweetsi Masisi. Khama has been embroiled in a bitter feud with Masisi following certain policy changes and has reportedly accused him of undermining Botswana's democracy as a result. Speaking to the Financial Times in Gabarone, Khama said that “Our whole reputation is being undermined locally and internationally. Our democracy is now in decline." He added that, "We won't be the example that we have been for so many years. All that will be eroded." Khama even went as far as saying that he hopes that the BDP loses the election. The former head of state left the BDP and went on to join the newly-formed Botswana Progressive Front (BPF) a few months ago, according to City Press.
While the potential victory of the UDC may represent a strengthening of the country's democratic processes, there are concerns that the UDC's manifesto contains “too many populist promises" with regards to creating employment and increasing both the minimum wage and pensions.