The presidentialization of Botswana’s Parliamentary Democracy
PublisherUniversity of Botswana, www.ub.bw
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Botswana attained independence from the British in 1966, adopting a parliamentary system of government similar to the Westminster model. However over the years, the country undertook a gradual shift from parliamentary democracy through the adoption of reforms borrowed from the presidential system of government. This research paper undertakes an assessment of the origins and driving force behind these changes. It identifies presidential reforms within formal institutional provisions, particularly the Constitution, but also within subtle structural and contingent indicators in Botswana. An in depth analysis of how these reforms have impacted democracy in Botswana is also carried out. The paper then advances an argument that Botswana is going through a presidentialization of its parliamentary democracy. Indicators of this process are identified in the legal powers which have gradually been vested in the office of the President over time, as well as the leadership resources and autonomy at the disposal of the President. Further, presidentialization is identified as a major impediment to the country’s democratization as it tends to enhance presidential powers while simultaneously marginalising parliament. Comparisons are also made between Botswana and other parliamentary democracies like the United Kingdom and South Africa. The paper concludes that Botswana does not have a conducive political environment with strong checks and balances to make presidential reforms effective and beneficial to its democracy. It is recommended that Botswana should retain a predominantly parliamentary system of government which promotes executive accountability to Parliament. The paper therefore advocates for the halting and reversal of presidentialization through a review of relevant legislation, particularly certain sections of the country’s Constitution.