President Ian Khama, a former army general who has led Botswana for the past decade, will step down on Sunday, leaving his deputy Mokgweetsi Masisi in charge of the world’s second-biggest diamond producer until next year’s elections.
While Masisi, 55, will inherit one of Africa’s wealthiest and best-governed nations, he’ll still have his hands full reducing the economy’s dependence on diamonds, creating jobs for the almost one in five workers who are unemployed and wooing more foreign investment. Aside from gems the country has little other than tourism to generate foreign exchange.
“A safe pair of hands” is how economist Keith Jefferis, a former deputy central bank governor, describes Masisi. He expects him to push changes the economy needs, including doing more to integrate it into regional and global markets. He said; “It will be essential to re-establish much better public-finance discipline. The quality of public financial management has deteriorated over many years, with poor spending decisions and an increasing level of waste and inefficiency.”