Political Party Funding Bill to be Tabled this Winter

  • Funding model expected to be among topical issues


The government is set to table the long-awaited political party funding Bill during this winter session starting in July, just three months before the elections that are scheduled for October.

This development follows an announcement by the Minister of Finance, Peggy Serame, in her budget speech for the 2024/2025 financial year in the 12th Parliament.

In the speech delivered in February, Minister Serame confirmed the government’s agreement to the proposal for political party funding but did not elaborate.

She unveiled the government’s plan to introduce political party funding amounting to over P34 million in order to enhance the country’s democratic principles.

In a brief interview on the matter, the Minister of State, Kabo Morwaeng, stated: “Plans are underway to finalise the political funding Bill to be presented to the July parliamentary session.”

A recently published white paper outlines the government’s agreement with the arrangement, subject to several conditions.

One key condition is that the funding amount should be based on the government’s affordability rather than prescriptive.

The white paper specifies the funding formula: 20% of P2,000,000 for a seat won by a male candidate and 30% of P2,000,000 for a seat won by a female candidate, with P2,000,000 being the maximum election expense amount specified under Section 81 of the Electoral Act.

Additionally, political parties receiving public funding will be required to account for use of the funds to the Office of the Auditor General following general elections.

The commission for reviewing the constitution had initially recommended that political party funding be based on the number of parliamentary seats won in the immediate past general elections at a rate of not less than P50,000 per MP or an amount determined by Parliament over time.

After the 2019 general elections, the African Union observer mission also recommended that Botswana consider state funding of political parties to strengthen its democracy and create a level playing field.

The head of the mission, Dr Brigalia Bam, who was also a former chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa, suggested that the funding should be based on a fair and equitable formula to enhance the participation of political parties in the democratisation process.

Several African countries, including Uganda, Burundi, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Malawi, already fund political parties.