Masisi calls for unity as BDP wins fresh mandate in Botswana

SANF 19 no 51
The ruling Botswana Democratic Party and its presidential candidate Mokgweetsi Masisi have won the 23 October general elections, winning another mandate to continue providing leadership for the economic development of the southern African country that it has led since 1966.

Botswana uses a single constituency electoral system of First-Past-The-Post for the election of Members of Parliament. Elected members of parliament then act as an electoral college to vote for the President.

The Parliament of Botswana has 63 seats, of which 57 are filled through direct election. There are four seats reserved for the majority party in Parliament, while the President and Attorney-General are ex-officio members.

In this regard, the majority of seats as set out by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of Botswana is 29 out of the 57 available seats in the National Assembly.

According to the final results announced by the IEC, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secured 38 seats or 67 percent of the total, which is more that the majority seats of 29 required to form the next government.

This means that even if the opposition parties form a coalition, they will not be able to cause serious problems for the ruling party.

The main opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), led by Duma Boko, garnered 15 seats.

The Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) led by Biggie Butale only managed to secure three seats, while the remaining seat went to the Alliance for Progressives.

The BPF had the support of former president Ian Khama and his brother Tshekedi who quit the ruling BDP to back this newly formed party.

Ian Khama, who was president and leader of the BDP from 2008 to 2018, broke away from the ruling party after a fall-out with his successor and incumbent President Masisi, who did not want to continue “taking orders” from him.

Khama’s father – Sir Seretse Khama – was the founding president of Botswana and the BDP.

The BDP has won all elections since independence in 1966, and the party is celebrated for nurturing the success of Botswana.

In the last elections held in 2014, the BDP won 37 of the 57 elected seats, while the UDC won 17 and the Botswana Congress Party had three.

According to a statement from the High Court of Botswana, the swearing-in of President Masisi is scheduled for 1 November.

In his victory message, Masisi said there is little time to celebrate as focus should now be placed on implementing initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable development.

“Elections are not simply about the numbers, but they also signal hope, change, progress and a better life.

“True to our word, we will continue to roll out our manifesto with immediate effect. You can rest assured knowing that you have chosen a government of execution and accountability.”

Masisi, who first became president of Botswana in April 2018 after the resignation of Khama, said the BDP could have performed even better during the elections had it not been for some “events” in the run-up to the polls, particularly the public fallout with Khama who later backed an opposition party.

“Had it not been for the unfortunate circumstances in which we found ourselves, the BDP would have run right over the opposition,” he said.

The BDP had a good showing as it won the Gaborone central region seat, which had for many years been a stronghold for the opposition.

“Election results were telling… and the one I take my hat off to, particularly, is our ability after many dry decades of taking political charge of our capital city, Gaborone,” Masisi said.

Local, regional and international organizations who observed the elections, including the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) said the polls were conducted in a peaceful and free atmosphere that “enabled voters to express themselves in a transparent manner.”

“The political and security environment before, during, and immediately after polling day was calm and peaceful,” Dr. Sibusiso Moyo, head of the 55-member SEOM said.

Dr Moyo, who is Zimbabwe’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, urged all Batswana to maintain the peace and stability to allow the country to focus on economic development.

The SEOM and other observer missions observed the Botswana election at the invitation of the IEC and its conduct will be consistent with the Constitution and electoral law of Botswana.

Southern African News Features offers a reliable source of regional information and analysis on the Southern African Development Community, and is provided as a service to the SADC region. 

This article may be reproduced with credit to the author and publisher.

SANF is produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985.      Email sanf[at]     

Website and Virtual Library for Southern Africa  Knowledge for Development