Women ululate as Khama votes in Botswana polls

2014-10-24 09:48
Incumbent president Ian Khama (AFP)

Incumbent president Ian Khama (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Serowe - Voters went to the polls in Botswana's general elections on Friday, with the ruling party facing an unprecedented test against an invigorated opposition in one of Africa's most stable democracies.

- Are you there? Send us your eyewitness accounts and pictures

Queues formed early at polling stations, with at least 800 000 registered voters eligible to choose a new parliament - which then elects a president - in the diamond-rich, sparsely-populated nation bordering South Africa.

"All voting started smoothly at 06:30 in all our polling stations," Botswana Electoral Commission spokesperson Osupile Maroba said.

The election is billed as the most challenging for the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), led by President Ian Khama, which has governed the landlocked country since independence from Britain in 1966.

Khama is battling to win over voters in urban areas, where opposition parties have made some inroads since the formation of a breakaway party, the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) in 2010.

The 61-year-old son of the country's first president, Seretse Khama, Khama is also a traditional chief of the Bangwato clan and can count on strong rural support as he runs for a second term in office.

Modest hometown of three presidents

In Serowe, Khama's home town north of the capital Gaborone, women covered in blankets waited patiently outside polling stations.

"We won't let our president down, that is why I am here so early. I am voting for our party here, the BDP of Khama," said Amantle Ramasia, a 67-year-old Serowe resident.

"He is our chief, I know his family well and he is a great man for this country," she added.

Khama voted at a community hall in the town, accompanied by his younger brother Tshekedi Khama, the minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism.

Women ululated as he stepped out of a white four-by-four. He did not stop to greet the elated supporters, jumped the long queue to pick up his ballot and left shortly afterwards.

The parched town, with many traditional thatched roof households, has given the country three presidents - two Khamas as well as Festus Mogae.

Despite this illustrious history, the town is still steeped in poverty, with some roads winding between humble homes still unpaved.

"Change is very slow"

But electricity cables criss-cross above stunted trees, a sign of development many of the locals credit to the ruling party government.

"Change is slow, very slow. I think the government is taking care of us but it's not enough. We need jobs," said Tau Mongwase, an unemployed youth from the village.

"The mines are not hiring us anymore. Things are very tough for young people here."

With the global financial crisis leading to a drop in diamond revenues, Khama's government halted planned investment, leading to growing unemployment and slow progress in diversifying the economy.

Fighting to topple Khama is Dumelang Saleshando, leader of the official opposition, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP).

Victory for Khama

According to an Afrobarometer report issued last week, the BCP - which has campaigned under the slogan "Ready to Lead" - is the fastest growing party in the country.

Another major contender is Duma Boko of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), a coalition of parties including the breakaway BMD which will be contesting the elections for the first time.

Boko has accused Khama of being increasingly authoritarian, arguing the country needs a change in leader.

But few expect a change this time round.

"Victory for Khama and the BDP is certain," said 31-year-old Frances Khomo in Gaborone.

"I don't see anyone who is good enough to lead other than the BDP, they have the experience of running the country and deserve more votes."

Read more on:    bdp  |  ian khama  |  botswana  |  southern africa  |  botswana elections 2014

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

SQL Reporter

Cape Town
Communicate Cape Town IT
R10 000.00 - R12 000.00 Per Month

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

Cluster Financial Manager

Cape Town
Network Finance
R950 000.00 - R1 000 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.