Type: Republic, Parliamentary Democracy
Date of Independence: September 30, 1966
Constitution Signed: March, 1965
Executive–President (chief of state and head of government), cabinet
Legislative–popularly elected National Assembly; advisory House of Chiefs
Judicial–High Court, Court of Appeal, local and customary courts, industrial labor court
Suffrage: Universal at 18
Elections: Held every 5 years. Next election will be in October 2019.
Previous Heads of State
Sir Seretse Khama – 1966 – 1980
Sir Ketumile Masire – 1980 – 1998
Festus G. Mogae – 1998 – 2008
Political & Economic Stability
Since independence in 1966, Botswana has been a nation-state of good governance, with free and fair elections involving a number of political parties held every five years. There is respect for the rule of law and the Judiciary is independent from influence of the Executive and Legislative branches of Government. The laws of Botswana guarantee, inter alia, individual and group freedoms of expression, association and property ownership.
Botswana’s economic progress since independence is one of the few success stories of the African continent. In 1966 Botswana was one of the 20 poorest countries in the world with a per capita income equivalent to US$80. The country now has a per capita income of approximately US$3,200. There were only 3 secondary schools in 1966. Today there are over 300 secondary schools. All children born in Botswana are guaranteed 10 years of free education. No citizen of Botswana is more than 18 miles from a health care facility.
Thirty six years ago Botswana had only 6 kilometres ( 4 miles) of paved roads. The country now is boasted by a network of modern roads covering an area over 7000 kilometres. Much of Botswana’s economic success is attributed to good and accountable leadership, prudent management of resources, especially revenue earned from diamond exports. Indeed Botswana is one of the few countries where the endowment of such precious natural resources such as diamonds never led to internal rifts over ownership of the mines, the marketing of production from the mines or how to spend the money earned from the gemstones. The Government invested wisely in the education, health, clean water and telecommunications sectors to create a better standard of living for its citizens and more importantly to foster a conducive environment for free enterprise to prosper. The fiscal and monetary policies of the Government of Botswana are designed towards maintaining growth with social justice.
Botswana’s good environment for business has been recognized by international credit rating agencies. Both Moody’s and Standards & Poor have awarded Botswana a sovereign credit rating in the A category. Transparency International continues to recognize Botswana for having the least corrupt system in Africa (you can click www.gov.bw & www.botswana-tourism.gov.bw for more information).
Capital City: Gaborone
Head of State: Lt. Gen. (ret.) Seretse Khama Ian Khama (4th President)
Currency: Pula notes & thebe coins
National Slogan: Pula (meaning rain)
Population: 2.021 million (2013 est)
Population Growth Rate: 2.4 % per annum (2002 est)
Main Exports: Diamonds, textiles, beef, soda ash
Trading Partners: Southern Africa, European Union and the United States
GNP: P32.0 billion (2002 est)
Land Size: 582,000 sq. km
Electricity: 230volt A/C 50 hz
Botswana is inhabited by people of predominantly Tswana origin (collectively called “Batswana”) whose recorded history can be traced back to the 14th century. They are believed to be descendants of King Mogale who lived in the present-day Magaliesberg Mountains in the Gauteng Province of South Africa. They migrated northwards, at different times and due to different causes, and established themselves in what was then a relatively unexplored territory.
Towards the turn of the 19th century, the people who resided in the area known as Botswana, made up of at least eight ethnic Chiefdoms whose peoples shared a common language and history, co-existed in relative peace.
During this period, Britain was consolidating its military and economic strength as a major colonial power in Southern Africa. At the same time, Dutch settlers calling themselves Afrikaners (Boers) and German settlers in Namibia (then South West Africa) were pushing northwards and westwards, respectively, annexing more and more Batswana lands.
In 1870, three DIKGOSI (Botswana traditional leaders) made representation to the British Government regarding the threat of their territory’s annexation by the Dutch and German settlers. With the earnest support of some local British organisations and individuals, the lobby for protection succeeded in 1885, resulting in the Bechuanaland Protectorate.
After 80 years as a British protectorate, Bechuanaland attained self-government in 1965, becoming the independent Republic of Botswana on September 30, 1966, and maintaining a position of stability and harmony ever since. Sir Seretse Khama was elected the first president and served until his death in 1980.
Since independence, Botswana has maintained a thriving democracy, clean government, an up-right judiciary, peace and stability, and a well-managed economy.
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has been in power since the first democratic elections in 1966, and continues to draw support from a wide range of Botswana’s population. Mr. Ketumile Masire served as Botswana’s second president, taking over from the late Sir Seretse Khama in July 1980 and continuing a tradition of good governance. He voluntarily retired from office in 1998, and was succeeded by Mr. Festus Mogae. Mr. Mogae finished his second term in 2008 handing over power to the incumbent President Ian Khama.