For general information about the country profiles click here.

botswana-mapPopulation: 2,003,910

HDI ranking: 119/187

HDI score: 0.634

Botswana maintains a functional decentralized governing system and is known as a stable democracy. Access to education and other local services are strong, but the country also struggles with health issues such as high HIV infection rates which heavily burden social services and economic activity (USAID, 2014). Even as Botswana is strong on some aspects of local governance, districts are still highly dependent financially on the central government (USAID, 2014), and civil society organizations have also remained weak (EISA, 2009).

Local Governance at a Glance

  • The country operates on a two tier system, with the federal government run by the president and local governments run by the Mayor in town, council chairpersons in districts (CLGF, 2013).
  • There is no constitutional provision for local governments, however the Local Governance Act of 1965 and the Township Act of 1965 give authority to local districts to develop and exercise good governance in their jurisdictions (CLGF, 2013).
  • At the central government level, the Ministry of Local Government is mandated to provide local level socioeconomic development and gives guidance to the 16 districts and 20 subdistricts (CLGF, 2013).
  • Districts are responsible for developing and funding primary education, healthcare, access to roads, availability to water supplies and cooperates with traditional villages’ system leadership (CLGF, 2013).
  • Local elections occur every five years and most councilors are elected by popular vote. However, around 19% of local councilors are appointed by the Minister of Local Government (CLGF, 2013).
  • Botswana has 16 districts which are further divided into wards. Each district and ward is represented by a councilor and is determined by the population size (CLGF, 2013).
  • The most recent local elections had a total of 591 councilors, and 116 (around 19.6%) were women. Out of the 16 mayors, three of them were women (roughly 18.75%) (CLGF, 2013).
  • Botswana does not have legislative gender quota at subnational level (Quota Project, 2012).

Civil Society Actors Include

  • Ditshwanelo (Botswana Centre for Human Rights) has been a leader for local governance and maintaining a strong civil society (EISA, 2009).
  • Emang Basadi, is a civil society association which champions women’s rights issues as well as voter education and electoral diversification. Its goal is to inspire voters to participate in elections while advocating for progressive electoral regulations and voting procedures (EISA, 2009).

Capacity Building Institutions

  • The Botswana Association of Local Authorities is a voluntary organization of city officials whose purpose is to recommend and undertake measures to strengthen local authorities and promote the relationship between central and local governments. It is not mandated by statute or constitution (CLGF, 2013).

Fiscal Control

  • Over 90% of local government’s revenue is provided by the central government, even though councils have the statutory authority to collect taxes or fees (CLGF, 2013).
  • The central government does give Councils development grants (CLGF, 2013).
  • Domestic revenue in Botswana is determined by mining and other national taxes, therefore when taxes are collected, the government pools and shares the revenue between the central and local governments (CLGF, 2013).
  • Examples of local sources of revenue consist of trade licenses, beer levy, housing rents, service levies and user charges (CLGF, 2013).
  • Mayors and councilors are responsible for implementing local development projects and receive remuneration through the Central government (CLGF, 2013).

Key Initiatives for Participatory Local Governance

  • Local planning is structured whereby communities are consulted during the legislative and drafting processes which last anywhere between 5-6 years. Internal processes and structures guide how communities are reached and development projects are coordinated by the Office of the District Commissioner (CLGF, 2013).
  • In 2010, the government launched a strategy on e-government. Councils offer information and some of the services on their websites, and each local authorities provide toll-free numbers for citizens (CLGF, 2013).
  • The Local Government Act 2012 is the main legislative text which provides statutory powers on councils to exercise good governance and take responsibility for development in their areas (CLGF, 2013).

Challenges for Participatory Local Governance

  • The law does not require community involvement in local governance.
  • The constitution does not establish quotas in order to ensure women are represented in public office at any level (EISA, 2009).

Recent posts on this website about this country:


List of sources (in order of citation):

United States Agency for International Development (USAID), 2014: “Botswana Country Report”

EISA, 2009: “Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa 1989-2009: 20 Years of Multiparty Democracy”

Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF), 2013: “Botswana”

The Quota Project, 2012: “Botswana”

EISA, 2009: “Botswana: Civil society actors”

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