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' Allow former presidents to retire in peace '

05 Jun 2024

Former Heads of State, Vice Presidents and other senior citizens should be allowed to retire peacefully after serving the country at a highest dignified position, Minister for State President, Mr Kabo Morwaeng has said.

Minister Morwaeng said this in response to a motivation by Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow proposing to delete some clauses in the Constitution Amendment Bill of 2024 on Monday.

Mr Morwaeng also told legislators that the position of a National Assembly speaker was also an important influential position in the running of the country’s political affairs and therefore cannot be open to Batswana holding dual citizenship.

Dr Dow had proposed that Clause 12 under Section 59 be deleted completely from the Amendment Bill or qualified. “If not deleted, at least consider to qualify the clause by adding to it the words ‘...and has taken a positive step or steps to benefit of such other citizenship.’”

Through such a qualification, she said a person holding dual citizenship would in any way be cautioned from doing anything that could be detrimental to their position.

“By operation of law, a person might still be a citizen of a country that they were born in and renouncing citizenship does not change one’s full identity. But, I also don’t see anything wrong with a former President becoming speaker because they possess vast experience and expertise that Parliament could still benefit from,” she added.

Arguing against the proposed amendment, Gaborone Central MP, Mr Tumisang Healy said Botswana, as a small country of around 2.6 million population should guard against countries with neo-colonialist ideologist and tendencies, whose motives were to own other countries. 

“If we are going to allow every Motswana, with rights and privileges in other countries, to hold such an influential position, we run a risk of having more people holding dual citizenship and dual allegiances running our country.

Anyone who is a 100 per cent Motswana should be the only one elected as a National Assembly speaker. So, anyone who became a Motswana, through naturalisation, should not be elected as a speaker,” MP Healey said.

Mr Machana Shamukuni, who is Chobe MP, also differed with Dr Dow, saying important and politically influential positions such as President, Vice President and National Assembly speaker should be reserved for people with undivided loyalty and allegiance to the state.

  “Some decisions that come with holding such an office or an influential position in the country can have dire consequences when taken by someone with divided loyalty and allegiance to the state,” Mr Shamukuni said.

He said any Motswana interested in holding such positions in the country should therefore renounce their other citizenship in order to benefit from being elected to such positions. Supporting the proposed amendment, Selebi-Phikwe West MP, also Leader of Opposition, Mr Dithapelo Keorapetse said identity cannot be changed by filling a piece of paper to renounce another citizenship.

Despite renunciation, Mr Keorapetse said a dual citizenship holder’s identity or allegiance remained unchanged. Francistown South MP, Mr Wynter Mmolotsi said it was unreasonable for dual citizenship holders to be given the power to register and vote for general election and then be disqualified from being elected as National Assembly speaker.

Mr Mmolotsi said he however approved disqualifying dual citizenship holders to become President or Vice President, adding “but I disagree with denying Batswana holding dual citizenship to become a National Assembly speaker. I find this to be completely unfair to Batswana who had children born outside the country or with foreigners.”

For his part, Ngami MP, Mr Caterpillar Hikuama also supported the proposed amendment saying it was a progressive position from a visionary person. “We are not supposed to come up with conservative laws that limits people’s freedom.  A former President is a citizen of this country. So, the law should not deny them opportunity to do what he is capable of doing to serve the country,” he said. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Lorato Gaofise

Location : GABORONE

Event : PARLIAMENT

Date : 05 Jun 2024