Electoral Process in Botswana

An electoral system or voting system is a set of rules that determine how elections and referendums are conducted and how their results are determined.

The Republic of Botswana is a country of about 582,000 square kilometers in size, situated at the
center of the Southern African Plateau at a mean altitude of 1,000 meters above sea level.
Formerly Bechuanaland Protectorate, it borders the Republic of South Africa, Namibia,
Zambia and Zimbabwe. Gazetted forest reserves cover 4,555 square kilometers which are only 0.8
percent of the total land area. Botswana is relatively flat, with gentle undulations and occasional
rocky outcrops (CSO, 2006).

The choice of electoral system is said to be the instrument of democracy and it also determines
how elections are won or lost. Botswana has since independence in 1966 adopted her own
Constitution and electoral laws were similar to those of the UK at that time. Since independence, the
electoral system has evidently been the first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system. The system
creates single-party cabinets which run the government (Molimo, 2005). Elections in Botswana
take place at national and local levels. Botswana is a multi-party democracy with Botswana
Democratic Party in power with a significant majority since independence.

The National Assembly and Local Councils are elected when General Elections are held. The last general
elections were held on 16 October 2009. They were the 10th general elections held since
Botswana’s independence in 1966. Botswana’s parliament has 61 seats, of which 57 are elected
using a single-member district plurality system, meaning there are 57 constituencies, each
electing a single member of parliament (MP) for a five-year term; 4 more seats are reserved for
the specially nominated members. The local council has 490 seats and 113 for specially
nominated councilors.
After independence, the role of administering elections was conferred on the Permanent Secretary
to the President (PSP). This raised many debates, essentially the autonomy of the PSP. The
Constitution was therefore amended to set up the „Supervisor of Elections‟ under section 66 (1)
and (2) provided that the Supervisor of Elections shall be appointed by the President.

In 1997 Parliament repealed section 66 of the Constitution and introduced a new section 65A by
passing the Constitution (Amendment) Act No.18/1997(Lekorwe and Tshosa “40 Years of
Democracy in Botswana” 2005). This replaced the office of the Supervisor of Elections with the
Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Section 65A (12) provides that; “The Commission
shall be responsible for- (a) the conduct and supervision of elections of the Elected Members of

the National Assembly and members of a local authority, and conduct of a referendum; (b)
giving instructions and directions to the Secretary of the Commission appointed under section 66
in regard to the exercise of his or her functions under the electoral law prescribed by an Act of
Parliament;(c) ensuring that elections are conducted efficiently, properly, freely, and fairly; and
(d) performing such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of Parliament.”
The different statutes which relate to or affect the electoral processes of Botswana are briefly
discussed below, commencing with the Constitution which is the cornerstone of all legislation it
establishes all three arms of government the Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary.
The Botswana Constitution creates the Electoral Commission by providing that; “There shall be
an Independent Electoral Commission…” It also creates the position of the Secretary to the
Independent Electoral Commission.

A person shall not be qualified to be appointed as Secretary
to the Independent Electoral Commission if- (a) he or she is not a citizen of Botswana; (b) he or
she has been declared insolvent or adjudged or otherwise declared bankrupt under any law in
force in any part of the Commonwealth and has not been discharged or has made a composition
with his or her creditors and has not paid his or her debts in full, or (c) he or she has been
convicted of any offense involving dishonesty in any country. (Constitution Section 65A and
A person shall be qualified to be elected as a Member of the National Assembly if, and shall not
be qualified to be so elected unless- (a) he or she is a citizen of Botswana; (b) he or she has
attained the age of 18 years; (c) he or she is qualified for registration as a voter for the purposes
of the election of the Elected Members of the National Assembly and is so registered, and (d) he
or she is able to speak, and, unless incapacitated by blindness or other physical cause, read
English well enough to take an active part in the proceedings of the Assembly (Constitution
Section 61).
The Electoral Act is an Act that consolidates certain laws relating to elections of the National
Assembly and councils also provide for the qualifications and registration of voters. It
furthermore provides for the conduct of such elections and for other purposes in relation to such
elections (Electoral Act Sections 3 and 4).

The Societies Act provides for the registration of political parties by way of making an
application to the Registrar of Societies for registration under the Act to be recognized as
societies (Societies Act Section 6).

The Referendum Act provides for matters requiring the approval of the majority of the electors
under any law, to be submitted to a vote of the electors qualified to vote at an election of the
Elected Members of the National Assembly. The President shall issue a writ under the Public

Seal of Botswana addressed to the Secretary to the Independent Electoral Commission fixing the
day for the taking of the poll and setting out the matter on which the poll is to be taken
(Referendum Act Section 4 and 5).

Local Councils Elections Act makes certain provisions regarding elections to local councils and
it also provides that Parts IX and X of the Electoral Act shall have effect in relation to local
council elections as they have in relation to elections conducted under the provisions of that Act
and for this purpose shall be construed with such modifications, adaptations, qualifications and
exceptions as may be necessary to bring them into conformity with the circumstances of local
council elections (Local Councils Elections Act Section 3 and 4).

Local Government (District Councils) Act provides that The President may by order published in
the Gazette establish District Councils in respect of such areas as he may think fit. Furthermore it
provides that a person shall be qualified to become a member of a council if he is qualified, in
terms of section 15, to vote in any election for members of the council and does not possess the
disqualifications for membership of the National Assembly referred to in section 62 of the
Constitution of Botswana (Local Government Act Section 4, 6, 6A and 7)
The census office has recorded that as of 2001 Botswana has a population of 1,680,863 this is the
latest information as the next census will take place in 2011. The demographic indicators are as
TABLE 1: 1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001 CENSUS DEMOGRAPHIC INDICATORS

What are the steps of the electoral process?

  • The Requirements.
  • Step 1: Primaries and Caucuses.
  • Step 2: National Conventions and General Election.
  • Step 3: The Electoral College.

What do you mean by the electoral process?

Electoral systems are detailed constitutional arrangements and voting systems that convert the vote into a political decision. The first step is for voters to cast the ballots, which may be simple single-choice ballots, but other types, such as multiple-choice or ranked ballots may also be used.

What are the 3 types of electoral systems?

Majoritarian systems differ according to the number of representatives elected in an electoral district and the kinds of majorities (simple or absolute) that winners must achieve.

  • Single-Member Plurality Systems.
  • Multi-Member Plurality Systems.
  • Single-Member Majoritarian Systems.