Botswana: The October 1979 General Election

Extracted from: "Botswana" IN Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa (2002), edited by Tom Lodge, Denis Kadima and David Pottie, EISA, 44-45.

This election was preceded by a complete re-registration of eligible voters and a vigorous campaign by the government, especially through radio and press publicity, to encourage citizens to register. The fact that the eventual total of registered voters was only 6 635 more than five years before was ascribed to double-registration and duplication of names on the voting rolls for the 1974 election.

Except that the percentage poll was an improvement on those of the 1969 and 1974 elections, the trend established in the previous election continued: gains for the BDP and losses for the opposition (see 1979 National Assembly results for more details). The BPP lost one of its two seats (Francistown) and the BIP its single seat (Okavango) to the ruling party. The BNF retained its two seats in the Southern District's Ngwaketse area and its share of the total vote increased marginally, similar to that of the BPP. Consequently, there was a slight decline (1.4%) in the ruling party's share of the vote.

Contesting parties: Botswana Democratic party (BDP), Botswana People's Party (BPP), Botswana Independence Party (BIP), Botswana National Front (BNF).
Leaders: Seretse Khama (BDP), Philip Matante (BPP), Motsamai Mpho (BIP), Bathoen and Koma (BNF).
Constituencies contested: BDP 32, BNF 16, BPP 14, BIP 5; two independent candidates.
Uncontested constituencies: The BDP was unopposed in two.constituencies.