Botswana became independent from British rule in 1966, when it changed its political system from one based on the Westminster model of parliamentary democracy to one in which the President is head of state as well as head of government. The President is elected for five years by the legislature, the National Assembly.
The National Assembly has 63 members, 57 of whom are directly elected in single member constituencies, using a simple majority or first-past-the-post voting system. Four members of parliament are elected by the rest of the Assembly by secret ballot, and the President and the Attorney-General are ex officio members of parliament. The National Assembly is advised by the House of Chiefs. Currently, the House consists of 35 members: eight are hereditary chiefs from Botswana’s principal tribes (Bakgatla, Bakwêna, Balete, Bangwato, Bangwaketse, Barôlông, Batawana, and Batlôkwa), 22 are indirectly elected for a period of five years, and the remaining five are appointed by the President. However, unlike in truly bicameral systems, the House of Chiefs has no legislative powers or veto rights.
Government Public Bills, introduced by a department or ministry, are the most usual form of legislation. The legislative process then consists of four stages, starting with the introduction/first reading in which a bill is published in the Government Gazette for thirty days and, without debating the bill, MPs vote on whether or not the bill proceeds to the second stage. In the second reading, the bill is debated in the National Assembly. Once it has received full consideration and approval in principle, it is referred to the Committee Stage, where it is considered in more detail and amended if necessary. After approval of the Committee of the Whole House, it is passed back to parliament for a final vote in a third reading. A bill becomes law after the Head of State has given his/her Presidential Assent.