African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 403

Full Length Research Paper

The weakness of opposition parties in Botswana: A justification for more internal-party democracy in the dominant Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)

Kebapetse Lotshwao
Department of Political and Administrative Studies, University of Botswana, Private Bag 00705, Gaborone, Botswana. 
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 31 January 2011
  •  Published: 28 February 2011


Botswana’s opposition parties are too weak to unseat the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). To substitute for weak opposition, this paper advocates for more internal democracy in the BDP for Botswana’s democracy to consolidate. The BDP has leadership elections but few other elements of internal democracy. Policy-making is centralised on the party leadership to the exclusion of party membership. The leadership is also excessively intolerant of dissent and parliamentary backbench. Furthermore, the leadership dominates candidate selection, thus determining the composition of parliament. With membership excluded from policy-making, critics silenced and backbench disciplined, possibilities exist for the BDP government to become unresponsive, unaccountable and authoritarian. For internal democracy to substitute for weak opposition, the paper proposes that BDP factionalism should shift from opportunism to principle. Finally, considering that Botswana’s constitution compounds autocracy in the BDP by centralising power on the president and granting him/her immunity from prosecution, the paper advocates for constitutional amendment.


Key words: Botswana, democracy, consolidation, opposition, internal-democracy, party- factionalism.