Botswana. At the beginning of the year, the political opposition merged with the goal of challenging the government ahead of the 2019 elections. According to Countryaah.com, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party has ruled the country since independence in 1966.
Journalists investigating corruption charges against President Ian Khama were barred during the year by security agents who threatened to shoot and kill them if they returned to the scene. Three journalists reported in April that they were surrounded by armed agents as they were investigating information that Khama was using the military for construction at his private residence.
During the year, Parliament implemented a controversial amendment to the President’s Retirement Act. Thus, Khama gets the right to use military aircraft and other state vehicles even after its departure in 2018.
Falling market prices for diamonds during the year led to a halt to mining at the Ghaghoog mine, one of the world’s largest diamond mines. The government planned to reduce the country’s dependence on diamond production, partly through increased coal mining. Botswana is estimated to have one of the world’s largest coal deposits of over 200 billion tonnes.
In April, the government decided to grant tax exemption for five years to the company that plans to build a large 450 megawatt coal plant adjacent to the Sese coal field in the east. Environmental organizations warned that countries in southern Africa lock themselves in an environmentally hazardous coal dependency at a time when coal is about to become unprofitable as an energy source. At the same time, the state-owned electricity company was planning to build Botswana’s first 100 megawatt solar power plant.
The third largest diamond found was sold in September for $ 53 million. It is big as a tennis ball and comes from the Karoo mine in Botswana.
In October, a historic verdict came, when the Supreme Court granted a Botswana transgender the right to change her gender identity from woman to man. The government had previously refused the change in the ID document. Gay acts can be punished with up to seven years in prison in Botswana.
When President Ian Khama visited Sweden in June, there was debate about Botswana’s plans to buy expensive fighter aircraft, possibly the Swedish Gripen. Asked if the country should not buy cheap drones, Khama replied: “Maybe we should buy arrows and bows instead. They are even cheaper. ”