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The Constitution of Botswana, adopted on 30th September 1966, provides for a republican form of government headed by the President with three main organs of government: the Legislature, the Executive, and the Judiciary. The Executive branch consists of the Cabinet headed by the President and is responsible for directing national policy and for the control of government ministries and parastatal organisations which provide certain national services. The Judiciary interprets and administers the laws of the land and is independent of both the Executive and Legislature.
The President is the personification of the State. He/She is the Head of the Executive, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic, and also an integral part of the Legislature. He/She has the power to dissolve Parliament, select or dismiss the Vice President and Ministers, and has the prerogative of mercy. In international affairs, the President, as Head of State, has the power to declare war and sign treaties and to recognise foreign states and governments.
The executive arm of government, headed by the President, comprises the body of ministers or Cabinet responsible for the administration of national affairs. The President acts on the advice of the Cabinet of Ministers selected by him from Members of Parliament. Therefore, all members of Cabinet are also members of the National Assembly. There are currently sixteen (16) Ministers and eight (8) Assistant Ministers who run Ministries, and they share in parliamentary debates and the answering of parliamentary questions, and are responsible for other various duties of their given ministries. Cabinet Ministers, as Members of Parliament, are normally bound by the ethic of collective responsibility. Although Ministers are responsible to the National Assembly, the President may appoint or dismiss Ministers without consulting the National Assembly or Cabinet. The Cabinet also includes the President, the Vice President, the Attorney General (ex officio member) and the Permanent Secretary to the President (ex officio member).
The supreme legislative authority in Botswana is the 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 at any time. The main functions of Parliament are to: pass laws regulating the life of the nation; scrutinise government policy and administration; and monitor government activities.
In the exercise of the foregoing functions, Parliament becomes the watchdog and brings relevant issues to the attention of both government and the electorate. The National Assembly is consulted before the President can sanction international treaties and agreements.
The National Assembly is a representative body elected by universal adult suffrage and currently has 61 seats (57 of them contested; four for specially elected members; and three for the President, Attorney General and Speaker). The Speaker presides over all the proceedings of the House, and is elected by the members. The Attorney General is the principal legal advisor to the House.