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Botswana: Botswana Government Profile




President: Seretse Khama Ian Khama

Seretse Khama Ian Khama - the son of Sir Seretse Khama, Botswana's initial post-independence leader - took over as president in April 2008.

He was the chosen successor of Festus Mogae, who stepped down at the end of his second term, next a decade at the helm.

He secured a new five-year term in October 2009 next his governing Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) party swept to victory in a parliamentary election.

To select a president, the winning party needs to win 29 of the 57 parliamentary seats. And in the 2009 polls the BDP - in power since independence in 1966 - won 45 of the 57 constituencies. The major opposition party, the Botswana National Front, won 6 constituencies and its splinter party the Botswana Congress Party captured 4.

Ian Khama, graduate of Sandhurst officer training college in Britain, was commander of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) before becoming vice president in 1998.

He became chairman of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in 2003.

Critics describe him as authoritarian while supporters say he is decisive and efficient.

His no-nonsense approach has made him popular abroad as he has broken ranks with regional leaders' timid approach to join international criticism of democratic abuses by Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.

A call for the president to be elected due by the people was rejected by parliament in 2008. Some critics have warned that the country was becoming a dynasty and that democracy was under threat.

Parliamentary republic.

Botswana is very stable politically. According to the African Economic Outlook political indicators (see Statistical Annex), Botswana was one of the African nations where no events indicating civil unrest (strikes, demonstrations, violence and coups d’état) or hardening of the political regime (incarceration of opponents, measures threatening democracy such as dissolution of political parties, violence perpetrated by the police and the banning of demonstrations or public debate) occurred in 2009. The country has an Independent Electoral Commission whose mission is “to facilitate the formation of democratically elected governments by delivering transparent, free and equitable elections in accordance with the established legal framework in Botswana and internationally accepted principles and standards.” Although elections are free and equitable, opposition parties have at no time managed to mount a critical challenge to the ruling party, and Botswana has been governed by the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) since the initial democratic elections in 1965.

In the October 2009 general elections, the BDP won 45 of the 57 parliamentary seats, while Botswana National Front obtained only six seats, down from 12 in the 2004 elections. Botswana Congress Party won four seats, up from one seat in 2004. Botswana Alliance Movement obtained only one seat, and an independent candidate was as well elected. As the leader of the party with a majority of seats in parliament becomes the president of the country, President Ian Khama retained his office.

The president exercised his constitutional right to nominate four “specially elected” members, two of whom were women, so that the new assembly has 61 members in all. Only four of them are women, indicating that women are still very poorly represented in politics and that Botswana is far from being on track to meet its MDG3 target of increasing women’s participation in leadership, governance and decision making by at least 60% by 2016.

Government type: 

parliamentary republic

Administrative divisions: 

9 districts and 5 town councils*; Central, Francistown*, Gaborone*, Ghanzi, Jwaneng*, Kgalagadi, Kgatleng, Kweneng, Lobatse*, Northeast, Northwest, Selebi-Pikwe*, Southeast, Southern


30 September 1966 (from the UK)

National holiday: 

Independence Day (Botswana Day), 30 September (1966)


March 1965; effective 30 September 1966

Legal system: 

based on Roman-Dutch law and local customary law; judicial review limited to matters of interpretation; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations


18 years of age; universal

Legislative branch: 

bicameral Parliament consists of the House of Chiefs (a largely advisory 15-member body with 8 ex-officio members consisting of the chiefs of the principal tribes, and 7 non-permanent members serving 5-year terms, consisting of 4 elected subchiefs and 3 members selected by the other 12 members) and the National Assembly (63 seats, 57 members are directly elected by popular vote, 4 are appointed by the majority party, and 2, the President and Attorney-General, serve as ex-officio members; members serve five-year terms) elections: National Assembly elections last held 16 October 2009 (next to be held in 2014) election results: percent of vote by party - BDP 53.3%, BNF 21.9%, BCP 19.2%, 2.3%, other 4.3%; seats by party - BDP 45, BNF 6, BCP 4, BAM 1, other 1

Judicial branch: 

High Court; Court of Appeal; Magistrates' Courts (one in each district)

Political parties and leaders : 

Botswana Alliance Movement or BAM [Ephraim Lepetu SETSHWAELO]; Botswana Congress Party or BCP [Gilson SALESHANDO]; Botswana Democratic Party or BDP [Daniel KWELAGOBE]; Botswana National Front or BNF [Otswoletse MOUPO]; Botswana Peoples Party or BPP [Bernard BALIKANI]; MELS Movement of Botswana or MELS [Themba JOINA]; New Democratic Front or NDF [Dick BAYFORD] note: a number of minor parties joined forces in 1999 to form the BAM but did not capture any parliamentary seats - includes the United Action Party [Ephraim Lepetu SETSHWAELO]; the Independence Freedom Party or IFP [Motsamai MPHO]; the Botswana Progressive Union [D. K. KWELE]

Political pressure groups and leaders: 

First People of the Kalahari (Bushman organization); Pitso Ya Ba Tswana; Society for the Promotion of Ikalanga Language (Kalanga elites) other: diamond mining companies

International organization participation: 


Flag description: 

light blue with a horizontal white-edged black stripe in the center