The president has executive power and is chosen by the National Assembly following countrywide legislative elections. The cabinet is selected by the president from the National Assembly; it consists of a vice president and a flexible number of ministers and assistant ministers, currently 12 and 3, respectively. The National Assembly has 40 elected and 4 appointed members; it is expanded following each census (every 10 years).
The advisory House of Chiefs represents the eight principal subgroups of the Batswana tribe, and four other members are elected by the subchiefs of four of the districts. A draft of any National Assembly bill of tribal concern must be referred to the House of Chiefs for advisory opinion. Chiefs and other leaders preside over customary, traditional courts, though all persons have the right to request that their case be considered under the formal British-based legal system.
The roots of Botswana's democracy lie in Setswana traditions, exemplified by the Kgotla, or village council, in which the powers of traditional leaders are limited by custom and law. Botswana's High Court has general civil and criminal jurisdiction. Judges are appointed by the president and may be removed only for cause and after a hearing. The constitution has a code of fundamental human rights enforced by the courts, and Botswana has a good human rights record.
Local government is administered by nine district councils and five town councils. District commissioners have executive authority and are appointed by the central government and assisted by elected and nominated district councilors and district development committees. There has been ongoing debate about the political, social, and economic marginalization of the San (indigenous tribal population). The government's policies for remote area dwellers continue to spark controversy and to be revised in response to domestic and donor concerns.
Principal Government Officials
President--Festus G. Mogae
Vice President--Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama
Ambassador to the United States--Kgosi Seepapitso
Ambassador to the United Nations--L.J.M.J. Legwaila
Botswana maintains an embassy at 1531-1533 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington DC 20036 (tel. 202-244-4990; fax 202-244-4164). Its mission to the United Nations is at 103 E. 37th Street, New York NY 10017 (tel. 212-889-2277; fax 212-725-5061).
conventional long form: Republic of Botswana
conventional short form: Botswana
Data code: BC
Government type: parliamentary republic
Administrative divisions: 10 districts and four town councils*; Central, Chobe, Francistown*, Gaborone*, Ghanzi, Kgalagadi, Kgatleng, Kweneng, Lobatse*, Ngamiland, North-East, Selebi-Pikwe*, South-East, Southern
Independence: 30 September 1966 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 30 September (1966)
Constitution: March 1965, effective 30 September 1966
Legal system: based on Roman-Dutch law and local customary law; judicial review limited to matters of interpretation; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
chief of state: President Festus MOGAE (since 1 April 1998) and Vice President Seretse Ian KHAMA (since 13 July 1998); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Festus MOGAE (since 1 April 1998) and Vice President Seretse Ian KHAMA (since 13 July 1998); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term; election last held 16 October 1999 (next to be held NA October 2004); vice president appointed by the president
election results: Festus MOGAE elected president; percent of National Assembly vote - 54.3%
bicameral Parliament consists of the House of Chiefs (a largely advisory 15-member body consisting of the chiefs of the eight principal tribes, four elected subchiefs, and three members selected by the other 12 members) and the National Assembly (44 seats, 40 members are directly elected by popular vote and 4 are appointed by the majority party; members serve five-year terms)
elections: National Assembly elections last held 16 October 1999 (next to be held NA October 2004)
election results: percent of vote by party - BDP 54.3%, BNF 24.7%, other 21%; seats by party - BDP 33, BNF 6, other 1
Judicial branch: High Court; Court of Appeal; Magistrates' Courts (one in each district)
Political parties and leaders:
International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, C, ECA, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, NAM, OAU, OPCW, SACU, SADC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO
Flag description: light blue with a horizontal white-edged black stripe in the center