The constitution Botswana adopted on September 30, 1966, provides for a republican form of government headed by the President, with three main organs of government, namely; the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. The legislature, which comprises the National Assembly and the President, acting in consultation on tribal matters, with the House of Chiefs, is the supreme authority in the Republic.
The executive branch consists of the cabinet headed by the President, which is responsible for initiating and directing national policy; the control of government ministries and departments, which are under ministers and are staffed by civil servants who implement government policy, and parastatal corporations which provide certain national services. The judiciary administers and interprets the law of the land and is independent of both the executive and legislative.
The President is the personification of the State. In law, the President is head of the executive, commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the Republic, and the President is also an integral part of the legislature. The President has the power to dissolve Parliament, select or dismiss the Vice President, ministers and assistant ministers, and has the prerogative of mercy. In international affairs, the President as the Head of State has the power to declare war and sign peace treaties and to recognise foreign states and governments.
The President normally acts on the advice of the Cabinet of Ministers, which is selected by him from Members of Parliament. There are 10 ministers and three assistant Ministers who run ministries and departments of government. Cabinet Ministers, as Members of Parliament, participate in Parliamentary debates but are normally bound by the ethic of collective responsibility. Ministers are also responsible to the National Assembly but the President may appoint or dismiss ministers without consulting the National Assembly or Cabinet.
The Cabinet Office, headed by the Secretary to the Cabinet, under the direction of the President, comprises the Cabinet Secretariat the Cabinet Business Committee and the Cabinet Economic Committee. The Cabinet Secretariat serves Ministers collectively in the conduct of Cabinet business. It operates as an instrument in the coordination of policy at the highest level of Government. Its functions include circulating memoranda and other documents required by Cabinet, preparing agenda for Cabinet meetings, recording discussions taken and safeguarding the security of Cabinet documents.
The supreme legislative authority in Botswana is Parliament, consisting of the President and the National Assembly, and where tribal and customary matters are involved Parliament is obliged to act in consultation with the House of Chiefs. The President is a member of the National Assembly and has the power to address, summon or dissolve it anytime. Normally the President addresses the National Assembly at the opening of a new Parliament every five years, or whenever there is an important national issue, and at the end of the life of Parliament when he dissolves it to call a General Election which leads to a new Parliament.
The main functions of Parliament are (a) to pass laws regulating the life of the nation and (b) to scrutinise government policy and administration and to monitor government expenditure.
The National Assembly is a representative body elected by universal adult suffrage and consists of men and women from all sections of society. There are 40 seats in the National Assembly (32 of them contested, four for specially elected members, two for the Attorney-General and the Speaker, and the other two recently created.)
General Elections are held after a Parliament has been dissolved and a new one summoned by the President. If a vacancy occurs in the Assembly by reason of death or disqualification of a member, or a result of such other circumstances as may be prescribed by the Constitution or any Law or the Standing Orders of the Assembly, a by-election takes place.
For electoral purposes, Botswana is divided into constituencies, each of which returns one member to the National Assembly. To ensure suitable representation, the Judicial Service Commission is required at intervals of not less than five years and not more than ten years to appoint a Delimitation Commission to determine whether any alteration to existing constituency boundaries is necessary.
Anyone, man or woman, who is entitled to vote and has reached the age of 18 can stand for election - provided the individual is not disqualified by reason of having been certified insane or unsound mind, does not have a death sentence imposed on him, or has not been declared insolvent in any part of the Commonwealth, or being under a sentence of imprisonment exceeding six months.
The House of Chiefs consists of eight ex-officio members, four elected and three specially elected members. The ex-officio members are the substantive holders of the office of Chief of the Barolong, Bangwato, Balete, Batlokwa, Bakwena, Bakgatla, Bangwaketse and Batawana.
The elected members are persons elected from among their own number by persons holding office of Sub-Chief in the Chobe, Francistown, Ghanzi and Kgalagadi districts. Specially elected members are elected by the ex-officio and elected members of the House among people who have not been actively engaged in politics in the preceding five years.
The ex-officio members remain members of the House of Chiefs for as long as they continue to perform their chiefly functions. Membership of elected and specially elected members is renewed every five years following the dissolution of Parliament, which comes after every five years, while that of ex-officio members is more or less permanent in the House.
There is no definite schedule of the meetings of the House of Chiefs, the time and place of convening being determined by the Chairman of the House. The House of Chiefs, however sits whenever the Government or the National Assembly has referred a bill to it or whenever it has important business to transact, or at least once a year.
Composition of the Government (21/10/2009)
H.E. the President, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama
THE VICE PRESIDENT
H.H. Lt. Gen. Mompati S. Merafhe
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Dr. Athaliah Molokomme (ex officio)
THE SECRETARY TO CABINET
Mr. Eric Molale - Permanent Secretary to the President (ex officio)
Ministry for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration
Hon. Lesego E. Motsumi - Minister
Hon. Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi - Assistant Minister
Ministry of Defence, Justice, and Security
Hon. Dikgakgamatso R. Seretse
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
Hon. Phandu T.C. Skelemani - Minister
Ministry of Finance and Development Planning
Hon. Kenneth O. Matambo - Minister
Hon. Charles Mbiganyi Tibone - Assistant Minister
Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology
Hon. Johnnie K. Swartz - Minister
Ministry of Lands and Housing
Hon. Nonofo E. Molefi - Minister
Ministry of Labour & Home Affairs
Hon. Peter L. Siele - Minister
Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture
Hon. Shaw Kgathi
Ministry of Trade and Industry
Hon. Dorcus Makgato-Malesu - Minister
Hon. Maxwell Motowane - Assistant Minister
Ministry of Local Government
Hon. Lebonamang T. Mokalake - Minister
Hon. Botlogile Mogogo Tshireletso - Assistant Minister
Hon. Kentse Rammidi - Assistant Minister
Ministry of Agriculture
Hon. Christian De Graaff - Minister
Hon. Oreeditse Molebatsi - Assistant Minister
Ministry of Transport and Communications
Hon. Frank Ramsden - Minister
Ministry Minerals, Energy and Water Resources
Hon. Ponatshego H. Kedikilwe - Minister
Ministry of Education and Skill Development Hon. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi - Minister
Hon. Keletso Joseph Rakhudu - Assistant Minister
Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism
Hon. Kitso Onkokame Mokaila - Minister
Ministry of Health
Hon. John Seakgosing - Minister
Hon. Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri - Assistant Minister