Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Ms. Anna Mokgethi has emphasized that the current legislation does not provide for the registration of political parties by the registrar, creating a significant gap in the existing Societies Act of 2022.
Minister Mokgethi underlined the importance of this amendment, stating that Botswana, as a multi-party democracy, cannot afford to exclude political parties from registration.
She further noted that this exclusion contravened the constitution’s provisions for freedom of association.
Initial intentions to have the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) oversee the registration, monitoring, and supervision of political parties proved unfeasible due to constitutional responsibilities, leading to this legislative change.
In response to the proposed bill, members of Parliament shared differing opinions.
While some expressed reservations about the government’s change of heart, citing the earlier deliberate exclusion of political parties from the Societies Act, others, like Mr. Onneetse Ramogapi of Palapye, supported the bill, emphasizing its role in addressing gaps in the Societies Act of 2022.
Ramogapi also highlighted perceived discrimination against churches under the existing act. In the end, the bill passed Parliament and moved to the committee stage, marking a significant step toward allowing the registration of political parties under Botswana’s Societies Act.