Democracy for Africa

Copyright The Wall Street Journal
April 9, 2008
Johannesburg, South Africa – You will have missed it if you’re not a fanatical Africa watcher. Last Wednesday Botswana, often referred to as the Switzerland of Africa, saw a change of leadership. It’s a nice, and instructive, contrast to the current shenanigans in Zimbabwe.
President Festus Mogae stepped down, a year before his term was due to end, and handed over power to his part’s new leader, Ian Khama. He did so to demonstrate his readiness to prepare a new man for the position. Mr. Mogae himself had won free and fair elections in 1998, and steered the country on a fabulous growth path that followed on from the successes of his predecessor, Ketumile Masire.
After discovering diamonds in the 1960s, the poor, sparsely populated country spread the benefits of mineral wealth across the board. Botswana made great strides against AIDS, reducing mo ther-to-child transmission of HIV from 40% of all births 10 years ago to 4% today. It is the world’s largest diamond producer and the most stable and prosperous country in Africa. And it has held regular elections since independence in 1966.
At a farewell rally on March 29, the day Zimbabweans went to the polls, Mr. Mogae warned: “Let me advise those leaders in similar circumstances: leave when the time for you to leave comes and you will be embraced with love by your people.”
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