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News release

Batswana worried that tensions between current and former presidents undermine the country’s stability

25 Apr 2023 Botswana
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News release
Key findings
  • About three-quarters (74%) of Batswana say tensions between President Masisi and former president Khama is causing economic instability in the country, including 47% who “strongly agree” with this view. Only 12% of respondents think the rift between the two political figures is not affecting the economy (Figure 1).
  • The view that the fallout threatens the economy is particularly common among citizens experiencing high lived poverty (83%), men (78%), and those with at least a primary education (74%-76%) (Figure 2).
  • An even larger majority (80%) of citizens say the tensions are causing political instability in the country, including more than half (54%) who “strongly agree” with this perspective (Figure 3).
  • This view increases with respondents’ lived poverty level, ranging from 73% among the best-off citizens to 88% among the poorest. It finds less support among women (75%), citizens with no formal education (69%), and rural residents (77%) than among their counterparts (Figure 4).

Large majorities in Botswana say the rift between President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his predecessor, Seretse Khama Ian Khama, is causing economic and political instability in the country, a recent Afrobarometer survey indicates.

Concern about the two leaders’ falling out is high across key demographic groups, particularly among poorer citizens.

Even though Masisi is Khama’s handpicked successor, tensions between the two became apparent shortly after Khama left office when he demanded privileges such as a larger staff, 15 armed security guards, and the appointment of his brother Tshekedi Khama as vice president. The tensions reached the point where Khama left the country, in November 2022; he is currently self-exiled in South Africa.

In recent months, Khama has publicly criticised Masisi’s plan to negotiate a better deal for the government with the De Beers Group, saying the president is trying to enrich himself and the ruling party and will be to blame for economic hardship if the mining company pulls out of its 53-year-old partnership with the government.