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Amendment bill set for third reading

05 Jun 2024

The Constitution Amendment Bill of 2024 is set to be moved to third reading where it will require two thirds majority votes by Members of Parliament to decide whether it should become law.

The voting process is expected to be held in three months’ time after which the minister responsible for the Bill, Minister for State President, Mr Kabo Morwaeng will move a motion for it to pass.

The special meeting of Parliament to consider the amendment of the Botswana fundamental law ended on June 4, after two weeks of intense debates both at second reading and committee stage.

Adjourning Parliament on Tuesday, Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Phandu Skelemani explained that the Constitution of Botswana required that a Bill would not be passed by Parliament, unless the final voting on it had taken place not less than three months after the previous voting thereon.

“This second voting would only take place after a cooling off period of three months had elapsed. The voting that we have just done becomes our previous. So, in three months you will be called.

You will be warned in time to come for the ‘do pass,’” Mr Skelemani told the MPs. Speaking in an interview, Minister for State President, Mr Kabo Morwaeng said he is happy that democracy prevailed during the committee stage of the Constitution Amendment Bill of 2024 that he tabled for second reading.

 Mr Morwaeng said the special sitting of Parliament afforded members to make their submissions into the draft bill without fear or cohesion.

He said all due processes were followed, starting with consultation of Batswana by the Presidential Commission of Enquiry into the review of the Constitution, Ntlo Ya Dikgosi and the National Assembly.

 He said it was important to incorporate all the inputs in to the draft bill.

“This is democracy we are talking about, ensuring that participatory democracy prevailed in the processes of reviewing the Constitution. We have done that, Batswana have spoken” he said. Mr Morwaeng said for the bill to pass, some clauses needs two thirds majority by Parliament and those would be voted for by MPs after three months, while those that are specially entrenched need two thirds majority plus referendum. However, he said referendum will be conducted next year, after general elections have taken place. Parliament set for a special sitting on May 20 to discuss the Constitution Amendment Bill for second reading, following inputs from members of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi after the bill was tabled for first reading.

The bill was mandated to assess the strengths and weaknesses of Constitution, assess its adequacy, articulate the concerns of the people of Botswana as regards the amendments that may be required for a review of the Constitution and make any recommendations on its review.

This was a first wholesome inquiry into the review of the Constitution of Botswana. During the beginning of the meeting, Mr Morwaeng told MPs that the commission submitted a report to the President with 93 recommendations of which 31 related to the constitution Morwaeng, 39 related to primary legislation while 23 related to policy. “In considering the recommendations of the Commission in so far as they related to the Constitution, the recommendations if given effect and agreed to, will preserve the unity, peace and stability of the country, promote, adhere to or enhance the rule of law and separation of powers,” he said. Contents of the amendment bill included among others, some clauses that called for the rights to health, education and work to be enshrined in the constitution. Some rights included the rights to collectively bargain and strike as was required by Batswana.

Other proposed amendments include introducing measures to ensure that a retired President who has served an aggregate period of 10 years was not eligible for election in any political office.

Other clauses include the changes to increase the number of specially elected Members of National Assembly from six to 10 and a new provision is that membership into Ntlo ya Dikgosi will be made up of two persons from each administrative district who for the time being perform functions of the office of Kgosi in respect of any area within such administrative district.

The provision allows for tribal neutrality by removing the requirement to have some members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi selected through an electoral college. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Mmoniemang Motsamai

Location : GABORONE

Event : Parliament

Date : 05 Jun 2024