Botswana: Electoral system

Updated September 2019

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Legal and institutional framework

Legal basis Constitution of Botswana 1966
Electoral Act (Chapter 02:09)
Referendum Act (Chapter 02:08)
Societies Act (Chapter 18:01)
Local Government (District Councils) Act (Chapter 40:01).
Electoral system National Assembly elections: First pass the post directly elected from single member by plurality, 57 constituencies with 4 indirectly elected members [1]
Presidential elections: President is elected by the National Assembly [2]
Electoral management bodies(EMBs) Independent Electoral Commission: Responsible for the conduct and supervision of the Elected members of the National Assembly and members of a local authority, including conduct of referendum. IEC to also ensure that elections are conducted efficiently, properly, freely and fairly [3]
Election petitions are heard by the High Court[4]
Independence of EMBs Chairperson is a High Court judge appointed by the Judicial Services Commission, legal practitioner appointed by the Judicial Services Commission, five other person who are fit, proper and impartial, appointed by the Judicial Services Commission from a list recommended by the All Party Conference[5]
Secretary to the Independent Electoral Commission appointed by the President[6]
EMBs stakeholder relations All Party Conference is a meeting of all registered political parties convened by Minister[7]
Political parties All political parties shall be registered by the Registrar of Societies, the Registrar is appointed by the Minister[8]
Party funding: The election expenses of any candidates shall not exceed P50 000. All monies, gifts, loans, advances or deposits shall be disclosed. The Registrar may, at any time, order any political party to furnish him/ her with the audited accounts [9]
All election related expenses have to be declared to the Secretary within 90 days[10]
The IEC is not mandated by electoral law to issue out a Code of Conduct [11]
Civil society Legislation does not explicitly outline the role of civil society[12]
Mass media In March of 2019, the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority issued out a draft Code of Conduct for Broadcasting During Elections[13]

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Election management

Election period and dates President may not serve for more than ten years. National Assembly elections every five years, unless dissolved sooner [14]
President issues out writ of elections for General Election to National Assembly, by-election to fill vacancy caused by death, resignation or otherwise. Nominations for presidential elections to be held between 5 to 10 days, elections may not be held earlier than 21 days after the final day of candidate nominations [15]
Polls open at 06:30 and close at 19:00[16]
Delimitation of constituencies National Assembly has 61 seats, 57 directly elected by universal adult suffrage, 4 seats indirectly elected by the president[17]
The Judicial Service Commission appoints a Delimitation Commission (DC) consisting of a chair and up to four other members. The DC reports to the President and constituencies are redrawn every 5-10 years [18]
Voter registration and voters' rolls Continuous registration. During general registration period, registration officers will register voters at all polling stations. During this period, registration officers will be present at all polling stations. During general registration period, the Secretary will ensure that copies of voters roll be made available for inspection at the office of the principle registration officer as well as at other appropriate places. [19]
Upon completion, the voters rolls is published by the Secretary for inspection by public. Secretary to inform public of places where rolls are available, if no objections, Secretary may certify general roll 42 days after publication, (21 days in case of a supplementary roll)[20]
Civic and voter education The IEC is not tasked by law with voter education the IEC and has stated that voter education is not part of its overall mandate[21]
Candidate nomination National Assembly: Every candidate shall be nominated by a proposer, seconder and no fewer than seven other persons[22]
Presidential: Nominations must be accompanied by the endorsements of 1 000 registered voters [23]
Election observation The electoral law does not explicitly make provisions for Election observation, although the IEC has, in repeated elections, invited election observers [24]
Election campaigns Election law does not require the IEC to issue out a Code of Conduct governing political parties, a Code of Conduct was, at the request of political issued out in the 2009 elections.[25]
The electoral legislation does not indicate when campaigning starts and ends, the 2009 Code of Conduct did regulate other aspects of elections including language used, use of public resources and the harassment and intimidation of other parties but not the election period.[26]
Conflict prevention and management Election petitions are heard by the High Court, the petition shall be presented within 30 days of the declaration of results and shall be tried and determined by the High Court within 90 days [27]
Election staff and logistics Candidates may appoint one person to be his/ her election agent, failing which, the candidate shall be deemed to be his own election agent and shall therefore be subject to the provisions of this Act as an election agent[28]
Secrecy of the ballot Ballot boxes shall be provided with a lock for securing when closed and shall be constructed in such a way that, once the ballot papers are closed, they cannot be removed [29]
Polling officers may (i) not give any assistance to voters beyond directing him/ her to a polling booth (ii) simply informing the voter of procedure [30]
Voting and counting process Every voter shall present himself at the polling station to which he/ she is registered, produce his/ her voter registration card as well as his identity card to presiding officer. After presiding officer has checked details, presiding officer shall give the voter a ballot paper, voter marked off the voters roll, voter then goes to polling booth, votes and puts ballot paper into the ballot box in the presence of presiding officer [31]
The counting officer shall, as soon after closing the poll, make arrangements for counting of votes at constituency headquarters. This must be done in the presence of candidates and counting agents who wish to be present. The results shall be recorded, which, after counting, be signed by him/ her as well as counting agents [32]
Announcement of results After counting the votes and ascertaining the results of the poll, the returning officer shall certify the elected candidate, officially declare the result of the poll by reading the results at the place of counting and return the official results to the Secretary [33]
The Secretary shall notify the Clerk of the National Assembly of the return of the writ, who shall cause the results of the election to be published in the Gazette.[34]
The returning officer shall deliver all documents relating to the conduct of the election to the Registrar of the High Court who will keep the documents for safe-keeping. Such documents shall be retained by the High Court who will be entrusted with such documents for safe-keeping for six months after the elections.[35]
Electoral reform The 1997 referendum created the Independent Electoral Commission, lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 and allowed for the creation an absentee ballot [36]

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Table notes

[1] Constitution of Botswana 1966, 58(2)(a)(b).
[2] Constitution of Botswana 1966, 32.
[3] Constitution of Botswana 1966, 65A(12).
[4] Electoral Act, 121.
[5] Constitution of Botswana 1966, 65A (1-3).
[6] Constitution of Botswana 1966, 66(1)(2).
[7] Constitution of Botswana 1966, 65A (3).
[8] Societies Act of 1972, 4, 6.
[9] Societies Act of 1972, 17; Electoral Act, 81, 84(1).
[10] Electoral Act, 87(1).
[11] Sunday Standard, 2018.
[13] Draft Code of Conduct Broadcasting Service Licensees During Elections, 2019.
[14] Constitution of Botswana 1966, 34(1), 91(3).
[15] Electoral Act, 34 (1)(2)(3).
[16] Electoral Act, 50 (1).
[17] Constitution of Botswana 1966, 58(2)(a)(b).
[18] Constitution of Botswana 1966, 64.
[19] Electoral Act, 7(1)(2)(3).
[20] Electoral Act, 14, 15.
[21] IEC has a Duty to Civic and Voter Education, 2018, Sunday Standard.
[22] Electoral Act, 35(1)(2)..
[23] Constitution of Botswana 1966, 32(2).
[24] EISA Technical Assessment Team Report: Botswana Parliamentary and Local Government Elections 16 October 2009, VIII; EISA EOM Report: Botswana Parliamentary and Local Government Elections 30 October 2004, IX;
[25] EISA Technical Assessment Team Report: Botswana Parliamentary and Local Government Elections 16 October 2009, 21, 22.
[27] Electoral Act, 116, 117(b), 121 (1).
[28] Electoral Act, 82(1)(2)(3).
[29] Electoral Act, 53(1).
[30] Electoral Act, 55.
[31] Electoral Act, 54 (a-f).
[32] Electoral Act, 69, 71(5).
[33] Electoral Act, 77.
[34] Electoral Act, 78.
[35] Electoral Act, 79.
[36] EISA, 2007; Accord, 2004.

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Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority, Draft Code of Conduct for Broadcasting During Elections EISA Observer Mission final report: Botswana Parliamentary and local government elections, 30 October 2004 [PDF document]

Election Observer Mission Report [PDF document]

MOLOMO, M 2004 "The Need for Electoral Reform in Botswana". Accord. [www]

SUNDAY STANDARD, 2018 "IEC has a duty to civic and voter education", [www]

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