PRESENTED BY: MINISTER FOR STATE PRESIDENT
11th AUGUST 2022
1. I have the honour to present to this Honourable House, the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2022, Bill No. 6 of 2022 for first reading. The Bill was presented for first reading to Parliament on 11th July, 2022. This has since stood referred to this House in accordance with Section 88 (2) of the Constitution, which prohibits Parliament to proceed upon any Bill, which among others alters provisions of the Constitution, before that Bill is referred to Ntlo ya Dikgosi.
2. Mister Chairman, on the 7th April 2022 an urgent motion was tabled before the National Assembly by Honourable Mpho Balopi requesting the National Assembly to allow for the amendment of Section 58 (2) (a) of the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana to increase the number of elected members from 57 to 61.
3. The reasons advanced that justified the urgency was that following the submission of the population census report there will be need to appoint a Delimitation Commission to determine any alteration of constituency boundaries in compliance with Sections 64 and 65 of the Constitution.
4. Currently there are 57 constituencies represented by 57 Members of Parliament in accordance with section 58 (2)(a) of the Constitution. In the past the National Assembly has increased the number of Elected Members as follows:
1972 31 to 32
1982 32 to 34
1992 34 to 40
2002 40 to 57
5. Following the population census of 2012, in compliance with the section 64 of the Constitution, a Delimitation Commission was appointed and submitted its report on the 25th February 2013 to the President. At the time the constituencies were not increased as the National Assembly had not proposed an increase in the number of Elected Members.
6. From the Delimitation report submitted in February 2013, the Commission reported that it had done everything possible within its power to realign the constituency boundaries to ensure that the population of each constituency is nearly as equal to the population quota as is reasonably practicable. In so doing, the Commission was not merely complying with a constitutional imperative but was upholding an equitable principle that equal numbers of people should ideally have equal representation.
7. Despite this, the Commission did not increase the number of constituencies because it is Parliament’s responsibility to determine the number of seats of Elected Members in the National Assembly which will in turn inform the number of constituencies in accordance with section 63 of the Constitution. The delimitation exercise of 2012 was carried out through the realignment of the existing constituency boundaries only.
8. Having realised that the same constraints faced by the Delimitation Commission of 2013 are going to be faced by the Delimitation Commission which the Judicial Service Commission was to appoint after submission of the population censors report, Parliament resolved to amend section 58 (2)(a) of the Constitution.
9. In the 2013 report, the Delimitation Commission noted as follows at page vi:
‘The Commission was confronted with the issue of whether or not it had the power to increase the number of constituencies where, as is the case here, Parliament had not made any provision altering the number of seats of Elected Members in the National Assembly.
After a thorough debate and most anxious consideration of the issue the Commission has proceeded on the understanding that the power to increase the number of seats of the Elected Members in the National Assembly lies with Parliament only and not the Commission. Consequently, unlike the previous Commissions which operated under circumstances where the National Assembly had enacted a law increasing the number of seats of the Elected Members in the National Assembly, this Commission has not created any new constituencies because it has no power to do so.’
10. Having noted the aforesaid, on the 8th April 2022 the National Assembly passed a motion resolving to allow for a Constitutional amendment Bill amending Section 58(2) (a) of the Constitution to increase the number of Elected Members from 57 to 61.
11. Therefore, Mister Chairman, the object of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2022, Bill No. 6 of 2022 is to amend the Constitution to increase the number of Elected Members of the National Assembly from 57 to 61.
12. Mister Chairman, The Bill has two clauses. Clause 1 is the short title and commencement provision of the Bill. Clause 2 of the Bill proposes that Section 58 of the Constitution be amended at subsection (2) (a) by substituting for the word, “57”, appearing therein, the word, “61”
13. Mister Chairman, this concludes my presentation. I now move that the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2022, Bill No. 6 of 2022, be read the first time.
PRESENTED BY: MINISTER FOR STATE PRESIDENT