Elections are underway in Botswana for parliamentary elections as President Ian Khama faces his first election challenge after taking over from his predecessor Festus Mogae, who retired in April last year.
Ian Khama’s ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is expected to
emerge winners as more than 700 000 people of a population of 1.7 million go to the polls to vote in landlocked Botswana, the world’s largest diamond producer. Results are expected over the weekend and no election violence is expected in the rather peaceful Zimbabean neighbour.
Botswana’s parliament has 57 contested seats, while an additional group of four lawmakers is appointed by the president. The winning party will need
29 seats to name their president. Khama is hoping that his MPs win convincingly to hand him the presidency.
However, reports say the ruling party, in power since independence in 1966,
could see its majority reduced. The party has also been beset by bitter spats between rival factions and Khama has been criticised for his authoritarian style.
Seven political parties and 15 independent candidates are contesting the country’s 57 constituencies. But the main race is between the ruling party, the main opposition Botswana National Front and its offshoot Botswana Congress Party.
Botswana, a former British protectorate gained independence in 1966 when Seretse Khama became president until his death in 1980.
Meanwhile, Khama, earlier on, predicted the collapse of the coalition government in neighbouring Zimbabwe.
Khama, a fierce critic of President Mugabe in the region is quoted
saying, “It is limping along and there is a real danger that the whole
thing could collapse.
“If it was to collapse for genuine reasons we would certainly not recognise a Zanu PF-only government or certainly not one headed by President Robert Mugabe because he certainly did not win the presidential election last year,” he said.