coat of arms 600x400  Parliament of Botswana 

 

This outlines the procedure for presenting bills and the tabling of papers in Parliament. The business of each sitting of Parliament is done in accordance with the Order of Public Business as laid down in the Standing Orders. The normal practice is to deal first with Questions, followed by Statements by Ministers, Bills and Motions.

  1. Many matters dealt with by the National Assembly begin with a proposal from the Government, a Government bill.
  2. Other matters begin with a proposal from one or several MPs, a private member’s bill. Bills may also be in the form of counter – proposals to Government bills.
  3. The Speaker receives all matters in the Chamber. This is known as tabling the matter and the National Assembly debates and takes a decision on the matter.
  4. The Government receives information on what the National Assembly has decided in a written communication and then ensures that the decision is implemented.

 LAW MAKING PROCESS

Only the National Assembly can pass laws in Botswana, but it is normally the Government that initiates new legislation in the form of Government Bills. A Bill is a proposed law or a proposed amendment to an existing law. It originates from a particular Ministry or Member of Parliament and is introduced to the National Assembly by the relevant Minister or Member. A Bill should first be published in the Government Gazette as a way of notifying the public that it will be brought to Parliament. At least 30 days should elapse after publication before the Bill goes for Second Reading. A Notice Copy is sent to the Clerk by the Ministry. After receiving the Notice Copy the Bill is noticed for presentation in the House.

 Types of Bills

  1. Government Bills-these are Bills brought to the House by Ministries.
  2. Private Members Bills-these are Bills brought to the House by Private Member (Members of Parliament who do not have any Ministerial Portfolio).

A bill can do one of the following three things:

  1. Propose a new law
  2. Amend an existing law
  3. Repeal a law that is outdated or longer needed

 A bill goes through the following stages called readings:

First Reading/ Presentation of a Bill
The First Reading/ Presentation of a Bill is when a Bill is presented to the House.

 Second Reading
The Second Reading of a Bill is where the general merits and principles of the Bill are discussed. Matters of detail are not discussed but the general application and desirability of the Bill come under debate.  

 Committee Stage
At Committee Stage a Bill is dealt with clause by clause. At this stage Members can move amendments to the Bill.
At the time of the Committee Stage the Speaker will then descend from his/her chair to the Clerks-at-the-Table where he will chair the Committee of the House and will be referred to as the Chairperson.

Third Reading of a Bill
The Third Reading of a Bill is when a Bill is passed. Members can debate, but no amendment can be moved at this stage. Members will vote and if they do so in the affirmative the Bill is passed.

After the Bill is passed in Parliament it is authenticated by the Clerk and sent to His Excellency the President for Assent. The will Bill now become an Act of Parliament.

Bills that have a variation in procedure

The following Bills have a slightly different procedure to that of normal Bills -
    The Appropriation Bill    

 The Appropriation Bill which contains the recurrent and development budget for a specific financial year. It does not have to fulfill the 30 day maturity period. (Maturity period is the between the publication of a Bill in the Government Gazette and when its due date for presentation and discussion in Parliament.)
        
 The Presentation of this Bill is followed immediately by the Budget Speech, which is the Second Reading of the Bill.

 Debate on the Second Reading resumes after one clear day following the presentation of the Budget Speech. The Second Reading of the Bill is allotted no more than ten days and the debates thereon shall be confined to the financial and economic state of Botswana and the general principles of Government policies and administration as set out in the Bill and estimates of revenue.

The Committee Stage of the Appropriation Bill is the Committee of Supply and is allotted eighteen days. During committee of supply, the debates are restricted to policy relating to the service for which the money is to be provided.

Supplementary Appropriation Bill

Following its Second Reading the Bill is not committed to a Committee of the whole House and goes to Third Reading forthwith.
                
A Bill that seeks to make an amendment to the institution of Bogosi as well as tribal and customary matters (Section 88(2) of the Constitution)

·    This Bill is referred to Ntlo ya Dikgosi following its First Reading.
·    A period of 30 days has to elapse from the date when the Bill was referred to Ntlo ya Dikgosi before the Bill can be read a second time

Constitutional Amendment
2.1    Bills that have a variation in procedure

The following Bills have a slightly different procedure to that of normal Bills -
2.5.1    The Appropriation Bill    

The Appropriation Bill which contains the recurrent and development budget for a specific financial year. It does not have to fulfill the 30 day maturity period. (Maturity period is the between the publication of a Bill in the Government Gazette and when its due date for presentation and discussion in Parliament.)
The Presentation of this Bill is followed immediately by the Budget Speech, which is the Second Reading of the Bill.

Debate on the Second Reading resumes after one clear day following the presentation of the Budget Speech. The Second Reading of the Bill is allotted no more than ten days and the debates thereon shall be confined to the financial and economic state of Botswana and the general principles of Government policies and administration as set out in the Bill and estimates of revenue.

The Committee Stage of the Appropriation Bill is the Committee of Supply and is allotted eighteen days. During committee of supply, the debates are restricted to policy relating to the service for which the money is to be provided.

  TABLING OF PAPERS

  • In Parliament the term “paper” refers to Statutory Instruments, Reports from Parliamentary Committee, Reports and Policy documents from Ministries and Parastatals Organisations.

 Tabling means the presentation of a paper, bill committee report or motion.

Once a paper is tabled, it becomes a public document and it is distributed to Members of Parliament and available to the public.

 The Ministry will deliver the Paper/Report to the Clerk indicating the date on which it should be tabled.

 When Parliament is meeting, the Paper/Report is put on the Order Paper for tabling in the House.

 Some papers that are tabled require adoption by Parliament. The Minister moves a motion for adoption at least three days after the notice. The paper is discussed in the House and either adopted or rejected.

 DRAFT GOVERNMENT POLICIES

After tabling the Draft Policy Paper, the Minister responsible may elect to hold a caucus with Members of Parliament to give them an overview of the Policy. This is important as it gives Members a broader understanding of the policy before it is debated in the House.

The Minister responsible makes his presentation on the policy

Members debate the policy in detail by expressing the views and their support or lack thereof for the policy.

After the debate, the Minister responds to the debate and “moves that the draft policy be adopted.”

A question is then put by the Speaker. The policy can either be adopted or rejected.

 MOTIONS

Refer to Parliament Motions .

 STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

If a Minister wishes to make a statement in the House, the Office of the Clerk must be notified in writing in advance of the Minister ‘s intention so that the Statement can be noticed and will appear on the Order Paper the day the Minister wishes to deliver the Statement .