Botswana: Constitution

Updated June 2007

CONSTITUTION[1] Adopted on 30 September 1966. Amended 1969, 1970, 1982 and 1997.
FORM OF STATE Republic
HEAD OF STATE The President is the Head of State, Head of Government and the Commander in Chief of the armed forces[2]. The President is elected by the National Assembly after each parliamentary election[3]. The President is restricted to two terms of office and all presidential candidates must be over 30 years of age and receive at least 1 000 nominations[4].
EXECUTIVE Executive power lies with the President who exercises it through the Vice-President and the Cabinet; these are all appointed by the President[5].
LEGISLATURE Legislative Power is vested in parliament, consisting of the President and the National Assembly, acting in certain cases after consultation with the House of Chiefs[6]. The National Assembly has 61 elected seats; 57 members directly elected by universal adult suffrage, together with 4 members who are elected by the National Assembly from a list of candidates submitted by the President. The President and the Attorney General are ex officio members of the Assembly and the life of the Assembly is five years[7]. The House of Chiefs (advisory body) comprises the Chiefs of the eight principle tribes of Botswana, four members elected by sub-chiefdoms and three specially elected members[8].
JUDICIARY The court system comprises a High Court, a Court of Appeal and magistrates courts[9]. The Chief Justice and the President of the Court of Appeal are appointed by the President, while judges are appointed by the President on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission[10]. Judges are removable by the President for incompetence or misbehaviour only on the advice of a special tribunal[11].
AMENDMENTS Sections 30-44, 47-51, 56, 77-79, 85, 117-120, 127 and sections 57, 63-67, 86-89, 90(2)-(3), 91(2)-(5), 92 and 95-107 require a two-thirds majority in the Assembly to be amended[12].

Table notes

[1] Constitution of Botswana 1966.
[2] Constitution of Botswana 1966, Sections 47, 48.
[3] Constitution of Botswana 1966, Section 32. There is currently debate in Botswana on whether the President should be directly elected or not. See MMGENI ONLINE 2005.
[4] Constitution of Botswana 1966, Section 33.
[5] Constitution of Botswana 1966, Sections 47, 49, 50. If a vote of no confidence is in the government is passed by the Assembly, unless the President resigns, Parliament is dissolved (Section 92).
[6] Constitution of Botswana 1966, Sections 57, 85, 88(2)
[7] Constitution of Botswana 1966, Section 58, 91, Schedule.
[8] Constitution of Botswana 1966, Section 77. According to IRIN (2005) an amendment to the Constitution is being considered which will enable a wider representation of non-Setswana-speaking ethnic groups in the House of Chiefs.
[9] Constitution of Botswana 1966, Sections 95, 99, 104(b).
[10] Constitution of Botswana 1966, Sections 96(1), (2), 100(1), (2).
[11] Constitution of Botswana 1966, Sections 97, 101.
[12] Constitution of Botswana 1966, Section 89. These entrenched sections deal with the office of President, the Cabinet, the House of Chiefs, national finances, the election of the National Assembly and the judiciary.

References

CONSTITUTION OF BOTSWANA 1966, [www] http://aceproject.org/regions-en/eisa/BW/Constitution%20of%20Botswana%201966.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 10 Mar 2010).

IRIN "Minority ethnic groups feel new bill still discriminates", Apr 13, [www] http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=46625&SelectRegion=Southern_Africa [opens new window] (accessed 10 Mar 2010).

MMGENI ONLINE 2005 "Magama plans motion on automatic succession", February 8, [www] http://www.mmegi.bw/2005/February/Tuesday8/1235834511287.html [opens new window] (accessed 10 Mar 2010).