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Botswana

Masisi steps out of Khama's shadow



Sacking a spy chief, ending the alcohol levy and promising to open up the economy, the new President is junking his predecessor's policies

As if determined to disavow Ian Khama's description of him as a 'bootlicker', new President Mokgweetsi Masisi has been breaking with the past, pushing more pro-business policies, cracking down on former officials accused of corruption and appointing a new economic team since taking office on 1 April. As Vice-President, Masisi took over the top job without an election when Khama retired after 10 years in power. For many years as a minister and then Vice-President, Masisi appeared to be an obedient subordinate of the often-autocratic Khama, never questioning his decisions in public or behind closed doors. Facing a general election in October 2019, Masisi has announced several policies differentiating him from Khama. This has struck a chord with voters and journalists. The alliance of opposition parties, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is frustrated at Masisi's apparent success in reinventing the governing Botswana Democratic Party and minimising the electoral damage it might have suffered from policies like the 55% alcohol levy. Masisi's sacking of intelligence chief Isaac Kgosi was another important break with Khama.


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