Botswana Democracy and Rights

Democracy and rights

Abbreviated as BWA by Abbreviationfinder, Botswana is usually described as one of Africa’s most stable democracies. But freedom of speech is circumscribed and several groups, including women, are discriminated against.

Botswana is a democracy with multi-party systems. The opposition can act freely, even though the same party has been in power since independence in 1966. The election result in 2019 was contested by the opposition who considered that there were irregularities on a broad front (see Calendar). Critics also point out that, at all stages of the presidential post, the ruling party let the vice-president take over during the current term, which they believe is undemocratic (see Current policy).

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Freedom of assembly is guaranteed in the Constitution and is generally respected. Several human rights organizations are active in the country and can work mainly without hindrance.

In recent years, Botswana has been accused of discrimination and marginalization of minority groups. This applies not least to the Bushmen (see Current policy).

Women have the same opportunity as men to engage politically, but in practice their influence is limited by cultural customs (See social conditions). The percentage of women in Parliament was 10 percent in 2017. Violence against women is a widespread problem and according to the law, rape in marriage is not a crime. Women are discriminated against in divorce as they risk losing custody of the children. Botswana is ranked 55th in the World Economic Forum’s Index of Gender Equality in 149 Countries 2018.

Homosexuality is prohibited and can give up to seven years in prison, even if the law is not applied in practice. LGBTQ people are discriminated against and especially when it comes to access to care. Botswana has also received international criticism for economic and political discrimination by a tribal people who are a minority in the country.

Religious freedom prevails and is well respected even though all religious organizations must register with the authorities (see Religion).

Botswana is the least corrupt country in Africa, according to Transparency International, which places the country at 34th place in its latest index of perceived corruption in 180 countries (see ranking list here). It is second best among African countries and on a par with European countries such as Slovenia and Lithuania. Botswana is considered to have good anti-corruption legislation, but the authority that investigates suspected crimes has been criticized for inefficiency. In 2018, however, several senior government officials were prosecuted in connection with an investigation into corruption in the country’s oil fund. The same year, the head of the intelligence service was fired after allegations of corruption (see Calendar).

Media and freedom of speech

Freedom of speech is guaranteed in the Constitution, but not in practice. Offending the president is illegal and can result in fines. Public employees are also prohibited from expressing political opinions. In recent years, the security service has developed technology to monitor e-mails and mobile traffic.

The state-owned media reports to the government’s favor and a ban on advertising in private media to some extent shuts the legs for critical votes. However, the country’s new president has sent signals that he is more favorably positioned for the free press than his representative on the post was. This has led Reporters Without Borders to place the country in 44th place in its index of freedom of the press in 180 countries in 2019, a push upwards by four places compared to 2018.

Judiciary and legal security

Botswana’s judicial system is considered to be one of the most well-functioning and legally secure in Africa. The courts are in principle independent and free from political interference, although the judiciary as a whole suffers from a lack of resources and competent staff, which generates long waiting times. The World Justice Project ranks Botswana 44th in its index of the rule of law in 126 countries in 2019.

There are no reports of extrajudicial disappearances or executions. Torture is prohibited, but reports indicate that it may still occur within the police. The country applies the death penalty for murder, overthrowing activities and treason.

In 2007, a Security Service (DIS (Directorate of Intelligence and Security)) was established within the Ministry of Justice, Defense and Security, which has been criticized for having too far-reaching powers, such as arresting people without arrest warrants.

Botswana applies capital punishment for murder, overthrowing activities and treason. Some 40 people have been executed by hanging since independence in 1966.

Botswana Crime Rate & Statistics



Increased state media control

A new media law is adopted after many years of debate. According to critics, it poses a serious threat to freedom of expression as the state increases its control over the media.


Ex-president is rewarded for good leadership

Festus Mogae, who recently resigned from the presidential post, wins a prize worth $ 5 million aimed at encouraging good leadership in Africa.


Ian Khama will take over as President

Vice President Ian Khama takes over as President since Festus Mogae resigned after 20 years in the post. Mompati Merafhe becomes new vice president.


Diamond giant is investing in a new company

The state-owned company Debswana and diamond giant De Beers form a new diamond trading company, Diamond Trading Company Botswana, which will process gemstones in Botswana.