1. Short title
This Act may be
cited as the Interpretation Act.
Each provision of
this Act applies to every enactment (whether enacted before, on or after the
commencement of this Act) being-
Act (including this Act) of the Parliament of Botswana;
instrument made (directly or indirectly) under an enactment,
except in so
far as the contrary intention appears.
Contents and Operation of Enactments (ss
3. Proof of enactments
(1) Every Act is a
public document and shall be judicially noticed.
(2) Where the
President assents to a Bill for an Act in accordance with the Constitution he
shall sign four copies of the Bill and direct the Custodian of the Public Seal
to affix the Public Seal to each of those copies.
(3) Each of those
copies shall be deemed to be an original copy of the Act and shall be
conclusive evidence of the terms of the Act and of its number and the date of
assent which shall be entered on the face of each copy.
(4) One of the
original copies of the Act shall be retained by the President, one shall be
deposited with the Speaker of the National Assembly, one with the Chief Justice
and one in the Government Archives.
(5) A copy of the Gazette
purporting to be printed by the Government Printer containing any enactment or
any notice of any kind or a copy of any such enactment or notice purporting to
be so printed or contained in any annual volume purporting to be so printed
shall be accepted as evidence of the due making and terms of the enactment or
notice and of the date of its commencement, if stated, without proof that any
such copy was so printed, unless the contrary is proved.
4. Citation of enactments
(1) Every Act may
be cited by its long title or short title or by the year in which it is enacted
and its number among the Acts of that year or by the Chapter number given to it
under the authority of an Act for the time being in force providing for the issue
of a revised edition of the Laws of Botswana.
instrument made under an Act may be cited in such manner as the instrument
provides or by the year in which it is made and the number assigned to it in
the Statutory Instruments or Government Notices Series on its publication in
the Gazette or, where the instrument is included in a revised edition of
the Laws of Botswana referred to in subsection (1), by the Chapter number of
the Act under which it was made and its first page number in that edition.
5. Commencement of enactments
(1) A Bill shall
become an Act on being assented to and signed by the President.
(2) Subject to
subsections (3) and (4) an Act shall come into operation at the beginning of
the day on which it is published in the Gazette.
(3) Where it is
provided that an enactment or any provision thereof shall come or be deemed to
have come into operation on some specified day (whether that day is named in
the enactment or provision or is to be appointed in any particular manner) the
enactment or provision shall come or be deemed to have come into operation at
the beginning of that day.
(4) Where it is
enacted in an Act that the Act shall come into operation on such day as may be
appointed, different dates may be appointed (by the same or different
instruments) for different provisions of the Act and the Act or provisions
shall come into operation at the beginning of the day appointed by instrument
published in the Gazette.
(5) The date
appearing on the copy of an enactment printed by the Government Printer and
purporting to be the date on which the enactment commenced or was deemed to
have commenced shall be evidence that such date was the date of its
commencement, unless the contrary is proved.
6. Construction of references to sections and other
(1) A reference in
an Act to a Part, section or Schedule is to the Part, section or Schedule of
that Act, unless it is indicated that reference to some other Act is intended.
(2) A reference in
an Act to a subsection, paragraph, subparagraph or other subdivision is to the
subdivision of the provision in which the reference occurs, unless it is
indicated that reference to some other provisions is intended.
(1) and (2) shall apply with necessary modifications to instruments made under
(4) A reference in
an enactment to any other enactment includes a reference to any instrument made
under that other enactment.
(5) A reference in
an instrument to an Act is to the Act under which the instrument was made,
unless it is indicated that reference to some other Act is intended.
(6) Subsection (5)
shall apply with necessary modifications to instruments made under an enactment
other than an Act.
7. Titles and preambles
(1) The long title
and the preamble form part of an Act and are intended to assist in explaining
the purport and object of the Act.
(2) The short
title or citation of an enactment is intended for convenience of reference only
and does not form part of the enactment.
Punctuation in an
enactment may be used as an aid to its construction.
9. Headings and marginal notes
An arrangement of
sections or other divisions of an enactment placed at the front of an
enactment, titles placed at the head or beginning of any division of an
enactment and notes and references placed at the side of any provision are
intended for convenience of reference only and do not form part of the enactment.
10. Descriptive words
Words in an
enactment descriptive of another enactment are intended for convenience of
reference only and shall not be used as an aid to the construction of the
enactment to which they refer.
11. Amended, substituted and applied enactments
(1) A reference in
an enactment to any enactment shall be construed as a reference to it as for
the time being amended by any provision, including a provision contained in the
enactment in which the reference is made or in a later enactment.
(2) Where an
enactment is repealed and another enactment is substituted, by way of
amendment, revision or consolidation, a reference to the repealed enactment
shall be construed as a reference to the substituted enactment.
(3) Where an
enactment applies another enactment, whether with or without modification, and
the applied enactment is subsequently repealed it shall continue to apply
according to the terms of the enactment which applies it, notwithstanding the
12. Textual insertion not affected by repeal of amending
The repeal of an
enactment which provides for a textual insertion in another enactment shall not
affect the insertion and the text of the altered enactment shall continue to
stand as altered notwithstanding the repeal.
13. Effect of repeal or expiry
(1) The repeal of
an enactment shall not-
anything not in force or existing at the time when the repeal takes effect;
the previous operation of the enactment or anything duly done or suffered
any right, privilege, obligation or liability acquired, accrued or incurred
any penalty, forfeiture of punishment incurred in respect of any offence
committed thereunder; or
any investigation, legal proceeding or remedy in respect of any such right,
privilege, obligation, liability, penalty, forfeiture or punishment,
and any such
investigation, legal proceeding or remedy may be instituted, continued or
enforced, and any such penalty, forfeiture or punishment may be imposed, as if
the enactment had not been repealed.
(2) When an
enactment expires, lapses or otherwise ceases to have effect this section shall
apply as if the enactment had then been repealed.
14. Effect of substituting enactment
Where an enactment
is repealed and another enactment is substituted, by way of amendment, revision
authorities and persons established or acting under the repealed enactment
shall continue to be established, or to be entitled to act, under the
bond and security given by a person appointed under the repealed enactment
shall remain in force and all books, papers and things used under it shall
continue to be used so far as consistent with the substituted enactment;
proceedings taken under the repealed enactment shall be prosecuted and
continued under and in conformity with the substituted enactment, so far as
consistently may be; and
instrument made under any provision of the repealed enactment shall remain in
force so far as it is capable of being made under the substituted enactment and
is not inconsistent therewith and shall be deemed to be made under the
corresponding provision of the substituted enactment.
Construction of Powers and Duties (ss 15-19)
15. Statutory powers and duties
(1) Where an
enactment confers a power or imposes a duty the power may be exercised and the
duty shall be performed from time to time as occasion requires.
(2) Where an
enactment confers a power, or imposes a duty, to do any act or thing all such
powers shall be deemed to be also given as are reasonably necessary to enable,
or require, that act or thing to be done or are incidental to the doing
16. Instruments, resolutions and directions
Where an enactment
confers power to make an instrument, pass a resolution or give a direction, the
power includes power, exercisable in like manner, to amend or revoke the
instrument, resolution or direction.
17. Licences, authorizations and permits
Where an enactment
confers power to grant a licence, authorization or permit, the power includes
power to revoke, suspend or amend the licence, authorization or permit.
18. Appointments to office
(1) Where an
enactment confers a power to appoint a person to an office, whether for a
specified period or not, the power includes power, exercisable in the manner
and subject to the limitations and conditions applicable to the power to
remove or suspend him;
exercise disciplinary control over him;
reappoint or reinstate him; and
appoint a deputy or other officer to act in his stead either generally or in
regard to specified functions, during such time as the authority in whom the
power of appointment to the office is vested considers expedient.
(2) A reference in
an enactment to the holder of an office shall be construed as including a
reference to any successor in that office and to a deputy or other officer for
the time being authorized to act in that office, either, as the case may
require, in respect of the functions of the office generally or the functions
in regard to which he is so authorized.
19. Exercise of powers before commencement date
Where an enactment
which is not to come into force immediately on its passing or making confers
publish documents or give notices;
give directions; or
do any other act or thing,
the purpose of giving full effect to the enactment from its commencement, the
power may be exercised at any time after the passing or making of the enactment
so, however, that no person shall take up office and no instrument shall come
into force before the commencement of the enactment.
Procedure and Practice (ss 20-23)
20. Service of documents
(1) Where an
enactment authorizes or requires a document to be served on any person without
directing it to be served in a particular manner the service of the document
may be effected either-
personal service; or
post in accordance with subsection (2) of this section; or
leaving it for him with some person apparently over the age of 16 at his usual
or last known place of abode or business; or
the case of a corporate body or an unincorporated body of persons, by
delivering it to the secretary or clerk of the body at the registered or
principal office of the body or serving it by post and in accordance with
subsection (2) on the secretary or clerk at his office; or
it is not practicable after reasonable inquiry to ascertain the name or address
of an owner or occupier of, or person having a particular interest in, premises
on whom the document should be served, by addressing the document to him by the
description "owner" or "occupier" of, or by description of
the particular interest in, the premises (naming them) to which the document
relates, and by delivering it to some person apparently over the age of 16 on
the premises or, if there is no person on the premises to whom it can be
delivered, by affixing it, or a copy of it, to some conspicuous part of the premises.
(2) Where an
enactment authorizes or requires a document to be served by post, whether the
word "serve" or some other word is used, service may be effected by
prepaying, registering and posting an envelope containing the document,
addressed to the person on whom the document is to be served at his last known
postal address; and, unless the contrary is proved, the document shall be
deemed to have been served at the time at which the envelope would have been
delivered in the ordinary course of post.
(3) Where an
enactment authorizes or requires a document to be served on any person or left
at his house or place of abode or business, service may be effected by
transmitting the contents of the document by telegraph and a telegraphic copy
thereof served on such person shall be of the same force and effect as if the
original document had been shown to, or copy thereof served on him.
21. Rules of Court
Where an enactment
confers jurisdiction on a court or other tribunal or varies its jurisdiction
the authority having power to make rules regulating the practice and procedure
of that court or tribunal may make such rules as appear to the authority to be
necessary or expedient for regulating the practice and procedure of the court or
tribunal in the exercise of the jurisdiction.
22. Administration of oath
Where by an
enactment power is conferred to require evidence to be given on oath otherwise
than in a court, the power includes power to administer an oath, or take an
affidavit or statutory declaration.
23. Deviation in form
Where a form is
prescribed or specified by an enactment, deviations from the form not
materially affecting the substance or calculated to mislead shall not
invalidate the form used.
Rules of Construction (ss 24-34)
24. Use of text-books and other publications in
construction of enactments
(1) For the
purpose of ascertaining that which an enactment was made to correct and as an
aid to the construction of the enactment a court may have regard to any
text-book or other work of reference, to the report of any commission of
inquiry into the state of the law, to any memorandum published by authority in
reference to the enactment or to the Bill for the enactment, to any relevant
international treaty, agreement or convention and to any papers laid before the
National Assembly in reference to the enactment or to its subject-matter, but
not to the debates in the Assembly.
(2) The aids to
construction referred to in this section are in addition to any other accepted
25. Republic when bound
The Republic or
Government shall not be bound by an enactment except by express terms or by
26. Liberal construction
shall be deemed remedial and for the public good and shall receive such fair
and liberal construction as will best attain its object according to its true
intent and spirit.
27. Positive interpretation favoured
construction of an enactment, an interpretation which would render the
enactment ineffective shall be disregarded in favour of an interpretation which
will enable it to have effect.
28. Use of present tense
An enactment shall
be construed as always speaking and if anything is expressed in the present
tense it shall be applied to the circumstances as they occur, so that effect
may be given to the enactment according to its true intent and spirit.
29. Construction of Acts and instruments as a whole
(1) An Act or
instrument shall be construed as a whole.
provisions of an Act or instrument are inconsistent and the inconsistency
cannot be resolved by construing the enactment as a whole, a provision which
appears later in the enactment shall prevail over an earlier provision.
30. Construction of enactments as one
Where an enactment
provides that it is to be construed as one with an earlier enactment, every
part of each enactment shall be construed as if the two enactments were one.
31. Construction of instruments
(1) An instrument
shall be construed subject to the Act under which it is made.
(2) Subject to
subsection (1), the Act and the instrument shall be construed as one.
32. Effect of general on special rules
Where an enactment
expresses a general rule in terms which are wide enough to relate to a
particular case for which a special rule has been provided in an earlier
enactment, the special rule, if not repealed by the later enactment, shall not
be affected by it.
33. General expressions qualified by particulars
Where an enactment
qualifies a general expression by providing that it shall include a number of
particular matters or things, any matter or thing which is not expressly
included is by implication excluded from the meaning of the general expression.
34. Similar and analogous terms
(1) Where an
enactment lists two or more terms of a similar kind, followed by a term which
in its literal sense has a meaning not limited to that kind, the latter term
shall be construed to be so limited, by implication.
(2) Where terms
capable of analogous meanings are associated together in an enactment their
respective meanings in the enactment shall be construed by reference to their
association and may be limited accordingly.
Penal Provisions (ss 35-39)
35. Imposition of penalty no bar to civil action
The imposition of
a penalty or fine by or under the authority of any enactment shall not, in the
absence of provision to the contrary, relieve any person from liability to
answer for damages to any person injured.
36. Offences under two or more laws
Where an act
constitutes an offence under two or more enactments or under an enactment and
any customary law, the offender shall be liable to be prosecuted and punished
under either or any of such enactments or under customary law, but shall not be
liable to be punished twice for the same offence.
37. Alterations of penalties
(1) Where an act
constitutes an offence and the penalty, forfeiture or punishment for the
offence is altered between the time of the offence and conviction thereof, the
offender shall, in the absence of provision to the contrary, be liable to the
penalty, forfeiture or punishment prescribed at the time of the commission of
however, the penalty, forfeiture or punishment is reduced or mitigated by the
amending enactment, the penalty, forfeiture or punishment, if imposed or
adjudged after the amendment, shall be reduced or mitigated accordingly.
38. Maximum and cumulative penalties
(1) Where in any
enactment a penalty is prescribed for an offence, the penalty shall, in the
absence of any provision to the contrary, be deemed to be a maximum and not a
(2) Where in any
enactment a term of imprisonment and a fine are prescribed, the penalties may,
in the absence of any provision to the contrary, be read as permitting the
imposition of one or other or both penalties.
39. Disposal of forfeits, fines and penalties
(1) Where by or
under any enactment any animal or thing is declared, or is adjudged by any
court or other authority, to be forfeited, it shall, in the absence of
provision to the contrary, be forfeited to the Government, and the net proceeds
thereof, if it is sold, shall be paid into the Consolidated Fund.
(2) Any fine or
forfeit imposed by or under the authority of any enactment shall, in the
absence of provision to the contrary, be paid into the Consolidated Fund.
(3) Nothing in
this section shall affect any provision in any enactment whereby any portion of
any fine or penalty or forfeit or the proceeds of any forfeit is expressed to
be recoverable by any person or may be granted by any court or authority to any
Interpretation of Terms (ss 40-49)
(1) References in
an enactment to time are to Botswana standard time, that is, two hours in
advance of Greenwich mean time.
(2) Where in an
enactment a period of time is expressed to begin on a particular day, that day
shall be included in the period.
(3) Where in an
enactment a period of time is expressed to be reckoned from, or after, a
particular day, that day shall not be included in the period.
(4) Where in an
enactment a period of time is expressed to end on, or be reckoned to a
particular day, that day shall be included in the period.
(5) Where the time
limited by an enactment for the doing of anything expires on a Sunday or public
holiday, the time so limited shall extend to and the thing may be done on the
first following day that is not a Sunday or a public holiday.
(6) Where in an
enactment anything is required or allowed to be done within a number of days
not exceeding six, a day that is a Sunday or public holiday shall not be
reckoned in computing that number.
(2) to (6) apply in relation to a period expressed in days whether or not the
number of days is expressed to be clear days.
(8) Where in an
enactment anything is required to be done on a particular day, then, if that
day happens to fall on a Sunday or public holiday, the thing shall be
considered as duly done if it is done on the first following day that is not a
Sunday or public holiday.
41. Reckoning of periods of time by the calendar month
(1) In an
enactment "month" means a calendar month, that is to say, a month
reckoned according to the calendar.
(2) If the period
indicated in the enactment begins on any date other than the first day of any
of the 12 months of the calendar it is to be reckoned from the date on which it
is to begin to the date in the next month numerically corresponding, less one,
or, if there is no corresponding date, to the last day of that month.
a month beginning on 15th January ends on 14th February; a month beginning on
31st January ends on 28th February (or 29th February in a leap year).
(3) If the
indicated period is one of two, three or more months, it is to be reckoned from
the date on which it is to begin to the date, numerically corresponding, less
one, in the second, third or other successive month thereafter or, if there is
no such corresponding date, to the last day of the latter month.
a period of six months beginning on 15th August ends on 14th February; a period
of six months beginning on 30th or 31st August ends on 28th February (or 29th
February in a leap year).
(4) In an
enactment "year" means a period of 12 months.
In the measurement
of distance for the purpose of an enactment, the distance shall be measured in
a straight line on a horizontal plane and may be determined by reference to the
most recent edition of a government survey map available at the time of
determination unless that distance is proved incorrect as to the particular
distance which is to be determined.
For the purpose of
an enactment a person shall be regarded as having attained a given age at the
beginning of the day on which the anniversary of his birth occurs.
44. Gender and number
(1) In an
enactment words importing the male sex include the female sex and words
importing the female sex include males.
(2) Where an
enactment employs the term "person" or "party", the use of
a pronoun importing gender shall not of itself be construed as limiting the
term to a natural person.
(3) In an
in the singular include the plural; and
in the plural include the singular.
45. "Shall" and "may"
In an enactment
"shall" shall be construed as imperative and "may" as
permissive and empowering.
46. Corresponding parts of speech
Where a word is
defined in an enactment other parts of speech and grammatical variations of
that word have corresponding meanings.
47. Reference to series of provisions
consecutive series of provisions of an enactment is described by reference to
the first and last in the series, the description shall be read as including
such first and last provisions.
48. Names commonly used
In an enactment a
name commonly applied to a country, place, public department, body,
corporation, society, authority, officer, functionary, or other person or thing
whatsoever means that to whom or to which the name is commonly applied,
notwithstanding that it is not the formal name or that it is abbreviated.
or "Act of Parliament" means a law enacted by the Parliament
of Botswana or any law of an authority formerly exercising authority to make
laws for the territory or any part of the territory comprised in Botswana;
Act" includes any enactment made and in force under the Act in which
the expression occurs;
includes an omission and references to the doing of an act shall be construed
officer" means a District Commissioner, a Senior District Officer, a
District Officer or an Assistant District Officer;
majority" means when a person has attained the age of 18 years;
in relation to any occurrence, matter or thing prior to the 30th September,
1966, means the territory comprising the Bechuanaland Protectorate;
means a Chief of one of the tribes and includes the regent thereof, and any
person appointed as "tribal authority" in accordance with any
enactment relating to chieftainship;
name" includes any forename;
in relation to an enactment means the date on which the enactment comes or came
country" means any of the members of the Commonwealth, other than
Botswana, comprising, the United Kingdom and Colonies, Canada, Australia, New
Zealand, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Malaysia, Nigeria, Cyprus, Sierra
Leone, Tanzania, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Malta,
the Gambia, Zambia, Singapore, Guyana, Nauru, Barbados, Lesotho, Mauritius,
Swaziland, Western Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Bangladesh, Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New
Guinea, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Zimbabwe, Brunei and any other country for
the time being recognized as a member;
officer" includes a consul-general, consul, vice-consul, pro-consul,
consular agent, or any person for the time being authorized to discharge the
duties of consul-general, consul, vice-consul, pro-consul or consular agent;
in relation to any requirement or condition prescribed in any enactment or in
any grant, permit, lease, licence or other authority under or by virtue of any
enactment, includes a failure to comply with that requirement or condition;
means a court of competent jurisdiction;
means an Act or a statutory instrument or any provision of an Act or statutory
unless expressed to be conclusive, means evidence until the contrary is proved;
means to take or cause to be taken out of Botswana by any means whatsoever;
year" or "fiscal year", in connection with any
matters relating to the Consolidated Fund or money provided by Parliament or to
public finance, means any period of 12 months ending on the 31st March;
includes powers and duties;
means the Botswana Government Gazette and includes any Government Gazette
Extraordinary, any supplement to the Gazette and any matter referred to
in the Gazette as being published with the Gazette;
Notice" (or its abbreviated form "G.N.") means any notice
published as such in the Gazette;
Printer" means the Government Printer of Botswana and any other
printer authorized by or on behalf of the Government to print any enactment or
any other document of the Government;
used in any provision of an enactment shall be understood to relate to the whole
enactment and not to that provision only;
property" means land whether covered by water or not, and includes any
estate, right, interest or servitude on or over any land, and things attached
to land or permanently fastened to anything attached to land;
means to bring or cause to be brought into Botswana by any means whatsoever;
means a natural person and does not include a corporation;
means a judge of the High Court;
of Appeal" means a Judge of the Court of Appeal;
authority" means a city council, a town council, a township authority
or a district council;
in reference to a day, means the point of time at which that day ends;
means a Minister of the Government and includes the President and the
Minister" means the Minister for the time being responsible for the
matter in question;
means a person who has not attained the age of 18 years;
has the meaning assigned to it under section 41;
"swear" or "affidavit" includes and applies
to the affirmation or declaration of any person allowed by law to make an
affirmation or declaration instead of an oath;
includes use, inhabit, be in possession of or enjoy the premises in respect
whereof the word is used, otherwise than as a mere servant or for the purpose
of the care, custody or charge thereof;
means any contravention of, breach of, or failure to comply with any enactment
for which a penalty is provided;
languages" means Setswana and English;
Secretary" means the holder of the public office of that designation
responsible, subject to the directions and control of the Minister, for the
supervision of a Ministry, and includes the Secretary to the Cabinet, the
Secretary for External Affairs and the Administrative Secretary in the Office
of the President;
Permanent Secretary" means the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry
responsible for the matter in question;
includes a body corporate and an unincorporated body as well as an individual;
includes any privilege, authority or discretion;
means prescribed by or under the enactment in which the word occurs;
means the President of the Republic of Botswana;
includes money and every description of property, whether movable or immovable,
animate or inanimate; and also obligations and every description of estate,
interest and profit, present or future, vested or contingent, arising out of or
incident to property;
includes any class of the public;
holiday" means any day which is a public holiday by virtue of the Public
office" or "public officer" and "public service"
have the same meanings as in the Constitution;
place" or "public premises" includes any public way, and any
building, place or conveyance to which, for the time being, the public are
entitled or permitted to have access, either without any condition or upon
condition of making payment, any building, place or conveyance which is for the
time being used for any public or religious meeting or assembly or as an open
Seal" means the Public seal of the Republic of Botswana;
or "street" includes any highway, street, road, bridge, square,
court, alley, lane, footway, bridle-path, parade, thoroughfare, passage or open
space to which the public are entitled or permitted to have access, whether on
payment or otherwise;
includes rule of court, bye-law or regulation;
includes barter, exchange, offer to sell or expose for sale;
or "signature" with reference to a person who is unable to write his
name, includes mark or thumbprint;
declaration", if made-
Botswana, means a declaration made under section 5 of the Justices of the Peace Act or under section 4 of the Commissioners of Oaths Act; or
any other country means a declaration made before a member of the Diplomatic
Branch of the Botswana Foreign Service attached to a Botswana Embassy or High
Commission in such country, or a declaration made in a Commonwealth country,
before a justice of the peace, notary public, commissioner of oaths or other
person having authority therein under any enactment for the time being in force
to take or receive a declaration;
instrument" means any proclamation, regulation, rule, rule of court,
order, bye-law or other instrument made, directly or indirectly, under any
enactment and having legislative effect;
legislation" has the same meaning as statutory instrument;
authority" means a Chief, deputy chief, sub-chief, Chief's
representative or headman appointed or recognized as such in accordance with
includes any ship, boat or other floating craft used for transport by water;
includes a codicil and every writing making a valid voluntary, posthumous
disposition of property;
includes abbreviations, figures, punctuation marks, parentheses and
typographical, monetary and mathematical symbols;
and expressions referring to writing include printing, photography,
lithography, typewriting and any other modes of representing or reproducing
words in visible form;
law" includes the Constitution, Acts and statutory instruments;
has the meaning assigned to it under section 41.