Southern African News Features                                           SANF 09 No 33, October 2009
Botswana determined to diversify its economy
by Kizito Sikuka

President Seretse Khama Ian Khama says Botswana will do more to broaden its economic base, which relies heavily on mining by diversifying into other economic sectors such as agriculture, energy and tourism.

Re-elected for another five years in the 16 October general elections, Khama said teamwork among all Batswana is crucial for the country to achieve its goals.

"We have long recognized that the diversification of the economy both within the minerals sector and beyond is a key strategy for our future survival," President Khama said at the swearing-in ceremony.

"It is for this reason that considerable investment will continue to go into mineral beneficiation, infrastructure development in all sectors including transport, energy and water.

"The combined effect of our investments in the various sectors will be job creation as well as poverty alleviation," he added.

President Khama, who contested his first election as leader of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) said he will use his current term in office to improve health, education and promote the sustainable use of resources.

Khama, the son of Botswana's founding father and first President, Seretse Khama took over the leadership at BDP last year when his predecessor and former President, Festus Mogae, retired in April 2008.

Khama has worked towards addressing some of Botswana main challenges such as unemployment, poverty, crime, HIV and AIDS and the shortage of shelter by putting in place a number of policies to mitigate the effect of the challenges.

He said this willpower to develop Botswana should continue and everyone must play his or her part.

"Let me remind the nation at large that everyone must be ready to be held accountable. We need to rekindle our spirit of self-reliance. Like it or not, self-reliance is an issue of willpower and pride, and it requires discipline to stay the course. Our conduct must also be beyond reproach," he said.

On the global financial crisis that has dampened the appetite and price for diamonds - Botswana key exports, Khama said the government will work with the private sector as well regional and international partners to address the challenges.

He noted that regional institutions such SADC and other development partners have supported Botswana over the years and the country will remain indebted for their cooperation.

"While optimistic about our future, I remain conscious of the challenges brought on by the Global Financial Crisis," he said.

"In this connection; the private sector must redouble its efforts in a spirit of partnership with Government to grow the economy."

On Election Day, 544, 647 Batswana cast their ballot out of a total of 725, 258 people who registered for the polls, according to the Independent Electoral Commission.

Botswana has a population of about 1.8 million people. The BDP secured 45 seats from the 57 Parliamentary seats while the Botswana National Front won six and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) four.

The Botswana Alliance Movement and an independent candidate won one seat each. Botswana uses a constituency, or First Past The Post, electoral system.

In this system, political parties and individual contest for specific constituency seats in parliament.

The party that has most seats in Parliament forms the new government and the Parliament acts as an electoral college to choose the President.

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