Ian Khama abdicated his position as President of Botswana on March 31, allowing Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi to take his place on April 1. The peaceful political transition is routine, as the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) employs this practice to allow the Vice President to govern until the elections. In similar fashion, former-President Khama took over from Festus Mogae a year prior to the 2009 election. Term limits are strictly enforced within Botswana, with each president serving no more than two terms. Elections are scheduled for October 2019; until then, Masisi will serve as president.
Masisi’s was previously employed as a teacher, UNICEF employee, Education Minister, and Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration. According to Reuters, Masisi addressed a crowd before parliament stating, “We still seek to build a Botswana in which sustained development is underpinned by economic diversification. One of my top priorities… will be to address the problem of unemployment especially amongst the young.” Botswana’s unemployment rate is around 20 percent, but youth unemployment is thought to be much higher. The economy in Botswana depends upon the diamond trade, but the plunging prices of goods forced the economy into arecession in 2015. Masisi is expected to be more business-friendly than his predecessor, and besides addressing the problem of youth unemployment, Masisi hopes to diversify the country’s economy.