Botswana: Party registration

Updated May 2006

Neither the constitution nor electoral law makes mention of political parties; parties are only required to register as societies in terms of the Societies Act (1987) (Somolekae 2005, 20, 21). The Societies Act, too, contains no definition of a political party. According to Gloria Somolekae (2005, 20, 21) the registration process in Botswana is both easy and quick.

Application for registration must be made with the Registrar of Societies within 28 days of establishment or of the adoption of the constitution or of rules, regulations or by-laws (Societies Act 1987, 6(1)). Before processing an application the Registrar may require of the party additional information deemed necessary for the consideration of the application (Societies Act 1987, 6(3)). If the application is successful the party is issued with a certificate of registration (Societies Act 1987, 6(4)).

The Registrar may refuse registration if the organisation concerned is an affiliate of a foreign organisation and has no constitution, rules, regulations or by-laws of its own or where the foreign organisation "is of a political nature" (Societies Act 1987, 7(1)). Registration may also be refuse if the registrar believes (Societies Act 1987, 6(2)):

  • The purpose of the party is unlawful or detrimental to the peace, welfare and order of society.
  • The party fails to supply information requested by the Registrar within 90 days of the request being made.
  • The constitution, or rules, regulations or by-laws of the party do not satisfactorily provide for membership determination and termination or for the management of its finances and property.
  • The office bearers are not able to manage the party, or its property and finances, or perform their duties.
  • The constitution, or rules, regulations or by-laws of the party are inconsistent with written law.
  • The party does not exist.
  • The party's name resembles that of another in a way that might deceive the public or is illegal.

Appeals may be made to the Minister against refusals of registration within 28 days of refusal (Societies Act 1987, 8).

All registrations and cancellations of registration must be published in the Gazette as well as a list of registered organisations on an annual basis (Societies Act 1987, 14).

Registration cancellation

The Registrar may cancel registration if:

  • The party affiliates with a foreign political body.
  • The purpose of the party is unlawful or detrimental to the peace, welfare and order of society.
  • The office bearers are not able to manage the party, or its property and finances, or perform their duties.
  • The constitution, or rules, regulations or by-laws of the party are inconsistent with written law.
  • The party has changed its goals without applying for permission from the Registrar before hand, or without doing so in accordance with the statutes of the party, or without notifying the Registrar of the changes once they have been made.
  • The party has failed to comply with an order to provide information that the registrar is empowered to request.

Should the Registrar wish to cancel the registration of a party the following procedure must be observed (Societies Act 1987, 11):

  • The party must be notified in writing and be given 21 days to give reasons why registration should not be cancelled.
  • If the Registrar thereafter wishes to proceed with cancellation the party must be informed and has 28 days after notification to appeal to the Minister.
  • If no appeal is made, or if it is dismissed, the registration may cancel the registration and notify the party of the cancellation.
  • Parties whose registration has been cancelled must return the certificate of registration within 21 days or its office bearers are liable to be fined.

A party that has failed to comply with an order to provide information that the registrar is empowered to request, or its successor, is not permitted to apply for re-registration (Societies Act 1987, 11(7)).

If the Registrar believes a party has ceased to exist a notice must be published in the Gazette calling on the party to show proof of existence (Societies Act 1987, 15(3)). If after a lapse of three months the Registrar is satisfied the party does not exist it may be deregistered (Societies Act 1987, 15(2)).

References

SOCIETIES ACT (CHAPTER 18:01), [www] http://aceproject.org/ero-en/regions/africa/BW/bostwana-societies-act-chapter-18-01 [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 10 Mar 2010).

SOMOLEKAE, G 2005, Political Parties in Botswana [PDF document], EISA Research Report No 27.