Breaking News

Debate on Constitutional Amendment Bill continues

26 May 2024

Francistown South MP, Mr Wynter Mmolotsi, has objected to the proposed amendment of Section 66 (2) of the Constitution of Botswana, which will allow the President to submit three nominees for the positions of Independent Electoral Commission Secretary, Chief Justice, and President of the Court of Appeal.

Contributing to the debate on the Constitution Amendment Bill of 2024 in Parliament on Thursday, Mr Mmolotsi noted that Batswana had long voiced their concerns about the appointment of the Chief Justice and President of the Court of Appeal by the President.

He argued that the President should only be allowed to appoint a Chief Justice or President of the Court of Appeal from a shortlist provided by Parliament, after a parliamentary committee had advertised such positions.

The same criterion, Mr Mmolotsi said, should also be followed when appointing an Independent Electoral Commission IEC) secretary.

Mr Mmolotsi also disagreed with the provision that sought to increase the number of Ntlo ya Dikgosi members.

He further argued that disqualifying former Presidents from engaging in active politics was wrong as it hindered them from exercising and enjoying their freedom of association, a fundamental human right.

Further, he mentioned that relaxing the country’s citizenship laws would benefit many Batswana with dual citizenship status.

He added that it was wrong to deny those with dual citizenship the opportunity to join the army or police service.

Mr Mmolotsi also expressed concern about an amendment providing for an elected MP or a Specially Elected MP to be removed from office for misbehaviour as it may be provided for in the rules of procedure of the National Assembly.

He stated that such a move would create an abusive dispensation that should neither be allowed nor entertained. Francistown West MP, Mr Ignatius Moswaane, observed that constitutional amendments were sensitive matters that required sober and thorough discussion.

He argued that the review process should reflect the true submissions of Batswana, rather than new insertions likely influenced by the Botswana Democratic Party.  

He also opposed disqualifying former Presidents from active politics, arguing that their wisdom and experience were valuable to the development of the country.

Mr Moswaane supported the idea of the President appointing Cabinet Ministers from outside Parliament, suggesting that individuals with special skills would better serve ministerial roles than MPs who should focus on representing their constituents.

He noted that MPs appointed as Cabinet Ministers struggled to balance their ministry commitments with serving their constituents.

Nata/Gweta MP, Mr Polson Majaga, underscored the need for a comprehensive Constitution review, which he said had served the country well for over 50 years.

He asserted that certain clauses or sections were outdated and needed amendments to align with modern lifestyles and international best practices.

Mr Majaga also supported appointment of Cabinet Ministers from outside Parliament, arguing that it would allow ministers to focus on their mandates without the burden of parliamentary duties.

Gaborone North MP, Mr Mpho Balopi, welcomed the comprehensive Constitutional review process, highlighting the importance of unity, peace, and stability in a democratic government.

He stressed that the Constitution should enhance the rule of law, separation of powers and protection of fundamental rights and freedom.

Mr Balopi supported increasing the number of Dikgosi in Ntlo ya Dikgosi, noting their significant advisory role to government and contribution to drafting the Constitution.

He advocated equal representation of tribes and the preservation of cultural values and ideals.

“What is very key should be the preservation of culture, the values and ideals of our communities,” said Mr Balopi.

He urged dikgosi to avoid active politics and politicians to refrain from meddling in chieftainship matters, thus ensuring dignity and respect for Bogosi.

Mr Balopi noted that Batswana did not necessarily advocate for the direct election of the President but opposed the practice of automatic succession to the presidency. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Lorato Gaofise

Location : GABORONE

Event : parliament

Date : 26 May 2024