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BOTSWANA
National Assembly

Modules:
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE PARLIAMENTARY CHAMBER

Parliament name Parliament
More photos  >>>
Structure of parliament Unicameral
Affiliation to the IPU Yes
Affiliation date(s) 1992 -
LEADERSHIP
President Margaret N. Nasha (F) 
Notes Elected on 21 Oct. 2009.
Secretary General Barbara Dithapo (F) 
Notes 19.10.2009 -
COMPOSITION
Members (statutory / current number) 63 / 63
PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN


More statistics  >>>
Women (current number) 6 (9.52%)
Mode of designation directly elected 57
other 6
Notes Other:
- Four members nominated by the President and elected by the National Assembly;
- Two ex officio members (the President of the Republic and the Attorney General).
The statutory number of members includes the Speaker, who may be appointed from outside the National Assembly.
Term 5 years
Last renewal dates 16 October 2009
(View details)
CONTACT INFORMATION
Address Parliament
P.O. Box 240
GABORONE
(Export mailing lists)
Phone (267) 361 6800
Fax (267) 391 3103
E-mail parliament@gov.bw
Website
http://www.parliament.gov.bw/

ELECTORAL SYSTEM

Parliament name Parliament
Structure of parliament Unicameral
LEGAL FRAMEWORK
Electoral law 17 May 1968
Last amendment: August 1997
Mode of designation directly elected 57
other 6
Constituencies 57 single-member constituencies.
Voting system Majority: Direct election, simple majority vote.
Vacancies arising between general elections are filled through by-elections.
Voting is not compulsory.
Voter requirements - age: 18 years
- Botswana citizenship
- residence in country for continuous period of not less than 12 months prior to registration as elector or residence in country at time of registration for native
- disqualifications: insanity, allegiance to a foreign State, death sentence, imprisonment of or exceeding six months, election-connected offence
CANDIDATES
Eligibility Qualified electors
- age: 21 years
- Botswana citizenship
- ability to speak and read English well enough to take an active part in the proceedings of the National Assembly
- ineligibility: undischarged bankruptcy
Incompatibilities - membership of House of Chiefs
- certain public offices
- election-connected office
Candidacy requirements - nomination by two electors of constituency
- support by seven electors of constituency
- monetary deposit reimbursed if the candidate obtains 1/20 or more of the votes cast in the constituency

LAST ELECTIONS

Parliament name Parliament
Structure of parliament Unicameral
BACKGROUND
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) 16 October 2009
Timing and scope of renewal Elections were held for all elective seats in the National Assembly on the normal expiry of the members' term of office.
The October 2009 elections were the first to be held under President Seretse Khama Ian Khama, who succeeded President Festus Mogae in April 2008. Incumbent President Khama, a former army commander, reportedly has considerable support due to the popularity of his father, Seretse Khama, who was Botswana's first post-independence President. The President is elected by the National Assembly.

In the previous elections held in October 2004, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), led by the then President Mogae, won 44 of the 57 directly elected seats. The main opposition force, the Botswana National Front (BNF), took 12 seats and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) won the remaining seat.

The BDP has been in power since the country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1966. Despite some infighting, the BDP was widely expected to win a landslide victory in the 2009 elections; the opposition forces were also divided.

The BDP fielded candidates in all 57 constituencies while the BNF and the BCP backed 48 and 42 candidates respectively. Although the BCP was in coalition with the Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM), these parties fielded their candidates separately. Two parties not represented in parliament - the Botswana People's Party (BPP) and the Marx Engels Lenin Stalin (MELS) Movement of Botswana - endorsed six and four candidates respectively. A total of 15 independent candidates, including one former BNF member who had been expelled from the party shortly before the elections, were also running. No independent candidate has ever won parliamentary representation in Botswana.

The 2009 elections were held against the backdrop of the global economic crisis, which severely affected the economy of the world's largest diamond producer. Botswana's economy shrank by 11.5 per cent in the fiscal year ending in June 2009.

The BDP pledged to secure the people's future and portrayed itself as a party to be trusted. It ran on its record, citing economic achievement, better education and training opportunities. It pledged to continue to fight poverty and unemployment.

The BNF, which considers itself as the "true party of the people", pledged to fight for democracy and establish a strong civil society with better social welfare. It pledged to provide decent housing and work for the poor.

The BCP-BAM promised to halt the economic downturn and pledged to bring democracy and prosperity instead of dictatorship and economic collapse.

The BPP promised to boost the country's economy through agricultural development and manufacturing. The MELS Movement of Botswana, led by Mr. Mogae Tawanana, pledged to fight imperialism and exploitation of the masses and enhance rural development.

In all, 76.71 per cent of the 723,000 registered voters in this country of 1.9 million inhabitants turned out at the polls.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) concluded that the elections had been "credible, peaceful, free and fair". It nevertheless noted a "slow polling process" and urged the election commission to introduce a simplified and more voter-friendly voting process.

The final results gave the BDP 45 seats. The BNF took six seats, followed by the BCP and the BAM which took four seats and one seat respectively. For the first time in Botswana's history, an independent candidate (a former BNF member) as well as a father and son entered the National Assembly. Two women were elected.

On 20 October, President Khama was sworn in for a second term. He subsequently appointed four more members, including two women.

On 21 October, the newly elected National Assembly held its first session. Ms. Margaret Nnananyana Nasha, an appointed member, was elected as its new Speaker, becoming the first woman to assume the post. Her candidature had been endorsed by the BDP.
STATISTICS
Voter turnout
Round no 116 October 2009
Number of registered electors
Voters
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes
723'617
555'078 (76.71%)
10'431
544'647
Notes
Distribution of votes
Round no 1
Political group Candidates Votes % of votes
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) 57 290'099
Botswana National Front (BNF) 48 119'509
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) 42 104'302
Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM) 4 12'387
Independents 15 10'464
Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total of seats
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) 45
Botswana National Front (BNF) 6
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) 4
Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM) 1
Independents 1
Distribution of seats according to sex
Men

Women

Percent of women
58

5

7.94%
Distribution of seats according to age
Distribution of seats according to profession
Comments
Note on the distribution of seats according to sex:
As at 28 October 2009, there were five women in the National Assembly: Two directly elected members, two appointed members and the Attorney General (National Assembly, 28.10.2009, 01.01.2014).

Sources:
- National Assembly (28.10.2009)
- Electoral Commission (23.10.2009)
- http://www.iec.gov.bw

PRESIDENCY OF THE PARLIAMENTARY CHAMBER

Parliament name Parliament
Structure of parliament Unicameral
APPOINTMENT AND TERM OF OFFICE
Title Speaker of the National Assembly
Term - duration: 5 years (term of House)
- reasons for interruption of the term: death, dissolution of Parliament, remove from office by a resolution of the Assembly supported by the two third of all the Members
Appointment - elected by the Members of the Assembly
- after Members' mandates are validated and after Members are sworn in
Eligibility - all Members of the Assembly and persons who are not Members, others than the President of the Republic, his Vice-President, Assistant Minister or Public Officer can be candidate
Voting system - formal vote by public ballot
- the method of voting is one man one vote
Procedures / results - the Clerk presides over the Assembly during the voting
- the Clerk supervises the voting
- the Clerk announces the results without any delay
- the results can be challenged
STATUS
Status - ranks fifth in the hierarchy of State, after the President of the Republic, the Vice-President, the President of the Court of Appeal and the Chief Justice
- represents the Assembly with the public authorities
- represents the Assembly in international bodies
- in the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker can assume his/her role and functions
if both are absent, the House will appoint one of the backbenchers to preside
Board
Material facilities - basic salary: P 5251.00
- Speaker's allowance: P 615.00
- entertainment: P 212.00
- duty travel: P 615.00
- official residence
- official cars
- Clerk of the National Assembly's staff
FUNCTIONS
Organization of parliamentary business - convenes sessions
- establishes and modifies the agenda
- organizes the debates and sets speaking time
- examines the admissibility of bills and amendments
- is the Chairman of the Committee of Selection
Chairing of public sittings - can open and adjourn sittings
- ensures respect for provisions of the Constitution and Standing Orders
- makes announcements concerning the Assembly
- takes disciplinary measures in the event of disturbance, and lifts such measures
- establishes the list of speakers, gives and withdraws permission to speak
- establishes the order in which amendments are taken up and selects which amendments are to be debated, in accordance with the standing orders and rules of the House
- calls for a vote, decides how it is to be carried out, verifies the voting procedure and cancels a vote in the event of irregularities
- checks the quorum
- authenticates the adopted texts and the records of debates, through the Clerk's office
- interprets the rules or other regulations governing the life of the Assembly according to precedents
- has discretionary power to give the floor outside the agenda and thus organizes impromptu debates
Special powers - appoints the Clerk and all senior staff
- is responsible for relations with foreign Parliaments
- is responsible for safety, and in this capacity, can call the police in the event of disturbance in the Chamber
Speaking and voting rights, other functions - provides guidelines for the interpretation or completion of the text under discussion
- is the Presiding Officer for the promulgation of laws
- is the Presiding Officer in ensuring the constitutionality of laws

PARLIAMENTARY MANDATE

Parliament name Parliament
Structure of parliament Unicameral
NATURE
Nature of the mandate · Free representation
Start of the mandate · When the results are declared
Validation of mandates · Validation by the High Court only in case of challenge by election petitions (Art. 69 (1) (a) of the Constitution of 30.09.1966, as amended of 1987)
· Procedure (Art. 75 of the Constitution, S. 114 to 138 of the Electoral Act)
End of the mandate · When the election results of the newly elected Members are declared - or on the day of early dissolution (for early dissolution, see Art. 68 (1) (a), and 91 (2) to (5) of the Constitution)
Can MPs resign? Yes · Yes, of their own free will (Art. 125 (1) of the Constitution)
· Procedure (Art. 125 of the Constitution)
· Authority competent to accept the resignation: the resignation need not be accepted
Can MPs lose their mandate ? Yes (a) Loss of mandate by judicial decision: decision of the High Court (Art. 69 (1) (a) of the Constitution):
- Loss of mandate for absence (Art. 68 (1) (b) of the Constitution, SO 5 of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly; see also Participation in the work of Parliament)
- Disqualification (Art. 62 and 68 (1) (c) and (2) of the Constitution)
STATUS OF MEMBERS
Rank in hierarchy
Indemnities, facilities and services · Diplomatic passport
· Basic salary: P 64,860
+ Additional allowance: differs in accordance with constituency
+ Hospitality allowance: P 4,008 per annum
· Total exemption from tax
· Special pension scheme
· Other facilities:
(a) Secretariat (Art. 70 of the
Constitution): BWP 13,632 per annum
(b) Official housing
(c) Official car during parliamentary meetings
(d) Security guards at official residences (apartments) when the Assembly is meeting
(e) Postal and telephone services are paid two thirds of the charge
+ Communications Allowance: BWP 3,408
(f) Free travel and transport during parliamentary meetings


Obligation to declare personal assets No
Parliamentary immunity - parliamentary non-accountability · The concept does exist.
· Parliamentary non-accountability is limited to words spoken or written by MPs and votes cast within Parliament.
· Derogations: offence or insult (Art. 44 (2) to (6) of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly, see Discipline)
· Non-accountability takes effect (on the day when the mandate begins) and offers, after the expiry of the mandate, protection against prosecution for opinions expressed during the exercise of the mandate.
Parliamentary immunity - parliamentary inviolability · The concept does exist.
· It applies to criminal and civil proceedings, covers all offences and protects MPs from arrest and from being held in preventive custody, and from the opening of judicial proceedings against them.
· Parliamentary inviolability does not prevent MPs from being called as witnesses before a judge or tribunal.
· Protection is provided only during sessions
· Parliamentary immunity (inviolability) can be lifted
- Competent authority:
· Parliament cannot suspend the prosecution and/or detention of one of its members.
· In the event of preventive custody or imprisonment, the MPs concerned cannot be authorised to attend sittings of Parliament.


EXERCISE OF THE MANDATE
Training · There is a training/initiation process on parliamentary practices and procedures for MPs.
· It is provided by the Parliament Administration.
Participation in the work of the Parliament · It is compulsory for MPs to be present at plenary sittings, committee meetings or other meetings
· Penalties foreseen in case of failure to attend (Art. 68 (1) (b) of the Constitution, SO 5 of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly): loss of mandate
· Body competent to judge such cases/to impose penalties (Art. 69 (1) (a) of the Constitution): the High Court


Discipline · The rules governing discipline within Parliament are contained in SO 43 and 44 of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly.
· Disciplinary measures foreseen:
- Order to discontinue the speech (Art. 44 (1) of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly)
- Order to withdraw for the remainder of the day's sitting (Art. 44 (2) of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly)
- Naming and suspension (Art. 44 (3) to (6) of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly)
- Adjournment of the Assembly, suspension of the sitting (Art. 44 (7) of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly)
· Specific cases:
- Offence or insult (Art. 44 (2) to (6) of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly): order to withdraw for the remainder of the day's sitting, naming and suspension
- Order to discontinue the speech, order to withdraw for the remainder of the day's sitting, naming, adjournment of the Assembly, suspension of the sitting, offence or insult: the Speaker
- Suspension, offence or insult: the National Assembly
· Procedure:
- Order to discontinue the speech (Art. 44 (1) of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly)
- Order to withdraw for the remainder of the day's sitting, offence or insult (Art. 44 (2) of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly)
- Naming and suspension, offence or insult (Art. 44 (3) to (6) of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly)
- Adjournment of the Assembly, suspension of the sitting (Art. 44 (7) of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly)


Code (rules) of conduct · This concept does not exist in the country's juridical system but there are some relevant provisions (Art. 62 (1) (e) and (g), 68 (1) (c), 69 (1) (a), and 94 of the Constitution).
· Penalties foreseen for violation of the rules of conduct (Art. 62 (1) (e) and (g), and 68 (1) (c) of the Constitution): loss of mandate (incompatibilities)
· Competent body to judge such cases/to impose penalties (Art. 69 (1) (a) of the Constitution): the High Court


Relations between MPs and pressure group · There are no legal provisions in this field.


This page was last updated on 31 January 2014
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