The struggle for independence in Botswana is sometimes confused with a marital problem. Seretse Khama, one of the most influential heirs of the Bamangalo people, had, after law studies in England, married Ruth Williams, a European office lady. The marriage annoyed Englishmen and Africans who forbade Seretse to return to her maternal property. Seretse resisted all the pressure and the English offerings of money, and with massive support from his own he maintained the leadership of the country’s most important tribe. However, he only managed to return home in 1956. 9 years later, his party, the Botswana Democratic Party, obtained 80% of the votes cast.
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In September 1966, Botswana gained independence and Seretse was elected prime minister. A year later he was knighted into the knight of the British Empire. The Botswana Democratic Party practiced a reconciliation policy towards the citizens of European origin, which controlled 80% of the country’s economy. Botswana is also heavily dependent on South Africa: almost all imports come via Cape Town and 60% of all exports are sold to South African buyers. Nevertheless, Seretse managed to distance himself politically from Pretoria and he supported the anti-apartheid movements in the region. Botswana became one of the Frontline States fighting apartheid and was a member of the SADCC trying to break with the economic dependence on South Africa.
Seretse Khama died in July 1980 of cancer and was followed by Vice President Quett Masire. He was subjected to heavy pressure by revolutionary, socialist groups, which aimed to limit European control over fertile lands, as well as increase the land to be used by agricultural cooperatives. The peasants accused the big landlords of raising too much cattle on the poor lands, which made them barren in a relatively short time. In addition, another movement emerged seeking to nationalize the diamond, copper and nickel deposits controlled by South African companies.
Botswana flag source: Countryaah.com
In 1982, Botswana was going to try to solve the large current account deficit problems as a result of a drought disaster affecting the production and export of meat, but the problem disappeared in early 1983, due to the government’s cutbacks, higher harvest yield and growth in mineral exports. The deficit was replaced by a surplus in the first half of 1983 that allowed the government to ease some of the economic restrictions, raise wages and lower taxes.
In any case, 3/4 of the population still had to feed on «unofficial» activities that were not statistically recorded and not taxed. Some 15,000 nomads belong to this population.