Voters in Botswana head to the polls today for crucial general elections in one of Africa’s most stable democracies.
Over 900,000 registered voters are expected to cast their ballots across the country to elect members of the national assembly and by extension the president of the southern African nation.
The polls have been described by analyst as unprecedented especially against the backdrop that the former president Ian Khama has thrown his weight behind two opposition presidential candidates.
All you need to know: Botswana’s crucial October 2019 polls
The Presidential bid will see President Eric Mokgweetsi Masisi battle it out with three other candidates.
Tune to Bwgovernment, Radio Botswana, Botswana Television at 2000hrs-2200hrs today (16/10/2019) for the live broadcast of Presidential debate. pic.twitter.com/IYT2hsbfnZ
— Botswana Government (@BWGovernment) October 16, 2019
In the first few weeks of his mandate (April 2018), President Masisi dissociated himself from the legacy of his predecessor by denouncing and lifting the ban on hunting wild elephants.
The move and other policy positions led to cracks within the ruling party, a situation that analysts say could swing favour to the main opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change.
According to the opposition group, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party, has been in power for too long, and has not done enough to transform people’s lives.
Past reports point to the country’s vast diamond resources, facilitated access to free education and health.
The country has attempted to diversify its sources of economic growth from mining to banking and tourism, but unemployment remains at 20%.
Voters will therefore have to choose candidates of the party they believe can address unemployment, inequality and excessive dependence on missing diamonds.
The party that will have the largest number of elected representatives out of the 57 seats to be filled in the parliament, will choose the president. Results are expected in the coming days.