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Botswana : Constitution and politics

Constitution

Status: 
Republic with executive president
Legislature: 
Parliament
Independence: 
30 September 1966

Under the 1965 constitution, Botswana is a republic with an executive President chosen by the National Assembly for the concurrent five-year term. After the 2004 general election, the Assembly had 57 members directly elected by universal adult suffrage plus the President, Speaker, Attorney-General and four members nominated by the President. The 35-member Ntlo ya Dikgosi (formerly known as the House of Chiefs) advises on tribal matters; 30 of the members are elected by senior tribal authorities and five members appointed by the President.

The Botswana Democratic Party has ruled that the party leadership is only to be held by any one person for two full terms.

Substantive constitutional amendments require a two-thirds majority of the Assembly and major amendments, a national referendum. Constitutional amendments approved in April 1997 retained the system by which the President is elected by parliament but allowed the Vice-President automatically to succeed in the event of the President’s death or resignation during his term of office. It also reduced the voting age from 21 to 18.

Local elections for the nine district councils, two city councils and four town councils are held – also on a party basis – simultaneously with general elections.

Politics

The October 1999 general election was won by the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), led by Festus Mogae, taking 33 seats, with 57 per cent of the votes, while the Botswana National Front (BNF) held six seats, with 26 per cent of the votes. There was an increase in the numbers of female and younger parliamentarians.

At the elections of October 2004 the BDP won 44 of the 57 seats in the enlarged National Assembly, securing 52 per cent of the votes and Mogae was returned for a second term as President. The BNF took 12 seats and 26 per cent of the votes, and Botswana Congress Party (BCP), one seat and 17 per cent.

On Festus Mogae’s retirement in April 2008, Ian Khama (the son of former President Sir Seretse Khama) became the country’s fourth President. In October 2009, he led the BDP to victory in the general election, taking 45 seats and 53 per cent of the votes. The BNF took six seats (22 per cent), the BCP four (19 per cent), the Botswana Alliance Movement one (two per cent) and independents one. Khama was shortly afterwards sworn in again as President.

At the elections held on 24 October 2014, the BDP won 37 seats and 46.7 per cent of the votes, the Umbrella for Democratic Change 17 seats and 30.1 per cent and the BCP three seats and 20.4 per cent. President Khama was sworn in for another term of office on 28 October 2014.

Head of government

HE Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President
HE Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama was sworn into office on 28 October 2014 for a second term as President of Botswana. He is the son of Sir Seretse Khama, Botswana's first post-independence leader. In 1998, he retired from the Botswana Defence Force and joined politics at the invitation of the then in-coming President Festus Mogae, who stepped down at the end of his second term, after a decade at the helm. As a member of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party, Mr Khama won the Serowe North Constituency by-election and became its Member of Parliament. He was appointed Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration. Mr Khama took over as president in April 2008. Before entering politics, Mr Khama studied in Rhodesia, Mbabane-Swaziland, Geneva-Switzerland and Chichester-England before military training at Sandhurst and police training in Ikeja, Nigeria and flying training in Gaborone and Antwerp, Belgium. Having joined the Botswana Defence Force when it was formed in 1977, General Khama was at its helm, first as Deputy Commander then as the Commander between 1989 and 1998. Mr Khama is decorated with various medals of honour including the Presidential Order of Honour, Founder Officer Medal, Duty Code Order and the Distinguished Service Medal. He holds a number of awards including the Endangered Wildlife Trust Statesman Award, the 2010 Drivers of Change Award from the Southern AfricanTrust and the CondenastTraveler – 2013 Visionaries Award. He was born on the 27 February 1953 in Surrey, England.