Titles of Dignitaries in Botswana

There are different ways of reflecting titles of dignitaries when these leaders are being spoken to, spoken or written about and when correspondence is written to them.

For example, the President’s title is β€œHis Excellency.” When he is directly addressed by the speaker the latter will say β€œYour Excellency.” In the salutation note of all letters to the President one would write β€œYour Excellency.” When you write to others or speak to them about the President, for example communicating a message or instruction from the Head of State you will say β€œHis Excellency has … or His Excellency is …”. While most people get it right for the President it is clear that things get complicated when they make their best attempts to address other dignitaries in Botswana.

The Vice President (VP) of the Republic of Botswana which is an official position is addressed as β€œHis Honour.’ If the Vice President was a female she will be referred to as β€œHer Honour” before her actual name and official position. The Vice President is a Member of Parliament (MP) and therefore while as honorably elected and sworn in as other MPs he is ascribed the official title of β€œHis Honour” by virtue of the senior position he occupies. Cabinet Ministers who are currently appointed from the serving MPs carry the title of β€œHonourable” even as we have heard some people not so familiar with our nomenclature referring to them as β€œExcellencies.”

The most regularly mixed up titles are those of the Chief Justice and the Mayor. The Chief Justice carries the title of β€œHis Lordship” or β€œHer Ladyship” if female while the Mayor is addressed as β€œHis Worship” or β€œHer Worship” if female.

When it comes to the diplomatic community the Ambassadors and High Commissioners who are Heads of Foreign Missions accredited to the Republic of Botswana are collectively referred to as β€œTheir Excellencies” while one is β€œHis Excellency” or β€œHer Excellency.” When acknowledging them collectively the speaker will say β€œYour Excellencies Heads of Diplomatic Missions and International Organisations.” They carry this title to recognize that they are high level envoys of their Head of State in Botswana. The overall head of the UN programme in Botswana who is now the Resident Coordinator is considered in the same level as Heads of Diplomatic Missions representing their Heads of State in this country. Likewise the Ambassadors or High Commissioners of Botswana to other countries, that is those sent to represent our country outside, are β€œTheir Excellencies” when at their duty stations. When the Ambassador or High Commissioner of Botswana to a particular country or international organization is home on holiday or for official engagements he/she cannot be referred to as β€œYour Excellency.” We would simply call them Ambassador or High Commissioner in this case because when it comes to Botswana national dignitaries the title of β€œExcellency” is first and foremost for the Head of State. The only other time this title is used is when addressing former Heads of State or Heads of Foreign Diplomatic Missions in Botswana who are accredited at ambassadorial level.

The following titles will prefix their names when we speak directly to them:

Your Excellency the President
Your Honour the Vice President
Your Lordship the Chief Justice
Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly
Your Excellency Former President
Honourable Minister
Honourable Member of Parliament
Honourable Member of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi
Your Worship the Mayor

Honourable Councillor

Source: BW Presidency page

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