Peter Pham reports on the recent successful transition of power in Botswana in contrast to the plight of Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe. On March 31st, President Festus Gontebanye Mogae of Botswana stepped down and was succeeded by his vice president, Seretse Khama Ian Khama (generally known as Ian Khama).
Mogae had more than a year left on the five-year term to which he was reelected in October 2004 (Botswana is what could be described as a hybrid Westminster parliamentary democracy with the executive state president being elected by a majority vote of the newly returned legislators after each general election; there is also an advisory upper House of Chiefs).
However, having succeeded to the presidency upon the retirement of his predecessor, Sir Quett Ketumile Joni Masire, on April 1, 1998, Mogae faced the fact that the Batswana constitution set a limit of ten years on any incumbent's tenure as chief executive. Hence, as he simply stated at the end of his State of the Nation address last November: "Mr. Speaker, in accordance with the Constitution, I will leave the leadership of our country to His Honor the Vice President – a patriot, who I am sure will carry the mantle of leadership with distinction, as he has previously done."
The rest of the article explores reasons for Botswana's political and economic stability.