The expelled member of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) has this week filed an urgent Interlocutory Application with High Court seeking to be given rights to participate in coalition meetings as well as other decision making bodies.
The Interlocutory Application precedes the awaited verdict for the review or Main application to be heard by 27 and 28th August 2019 subsequent to a case filled by BMD in 2018. In the application brought before High Court by BMD Secretary General and Member of Parliament for Mochudi West, Gilbert Mangole; the Chief Justice of Botswana is cited as the First Interlocutory Respondent, the Independent Electoral Commission of Botswana cited as Second Respondent and the Umbrella for Democratic Change as the Third Interlocutory Respondent filed on the 2nd July 2019.
The BMD seek to participate in all meetings of the UDC at all levels; participate in the selection of the Presidential candidate to be presented by the UDC in the forthcoming 2019 general elections; Presents its President as a likely contender and candidate in the internal process of selection of the Presidential candidate of the UDC in the forthcoming 2019 general elections.
The BMD also seek to participate in the selection of the persons to be nominated as parliamentary candidates to be presented by the UDC in the forthcoming 2019 general elections; present its members amongst the persons to be nominate as council candidates to be presented by the UDC in the forthcoming 2019 general elections and participates in the preparation of the elections manifesto of the UDC for the 2019 general elections.
According to the interlocutory application, the BMD says it is clear from the public position taken by the UDC that the BMD will, in violation of the registered Constitution of the UDC, be denied the above vital rights, inter alia, should; the Presidential candidate be presented by the UDC in the forthcoming 2019 general elections be nominated before the Review or Main Application brought by the BMD is heard and determined by the High Court and, in the event of an appeal to the Court of Appeal, by the latter Court.
The BMD says the parliamentary candidates to be presented by the UDC in the forthcoming 2019 general elections be nominated before the Review Application brought by the BMD is heard and determined by the High Court and the council candidates to be presented by the UDC in the forthcoming 2019 general elections be nominated before the Review Application brought by the BMD is heard and determined by the High Court and, in the event of an appeal to the Court of Appeal, by the latter Court.
The application points that the Chief Justice of the Republic of Botswana is, in terms of Section 32 and 38 of the Constitution of Botswana, the Returning Officer of presidential elections in respect of the President of Botswana and is the entity upon whom falls the duty to receive nominations for Presidential candidates.
According to the interlocutory application, the IEC is, in terms of Section 65A of the Constitution of Botswana, the constitutional body upon whom the duty to receive nominations for parliamentary and council candidates, and conduct and supervise the elections in which members of parliament and councilors are elected. The Review Application was served on both Respondents on 14 December 2018, the answering papers in which were delivered by the Respondents on the 28 and 29 March, and the BMD its replying papers soon thereafter.
The BMD states that, recognising the necessity to hear and determine the Review Application expeditiously in view of the fact that the general elections will be held this year, the High Court allocated 29 and 30 April 2019 for the hearing of the Review Application. “These dates suited the BMD but UDC, whose strategy has been a one of delay in the hope that the nomination of presidential, parliamentary and council candidates will take place prior to the hearing and final determination of the review Application, said that the dates were unsuitable to them,” Mangole contends.
On 29 April 2019 the UDC applied for the hearing to be postponed, and although the High Court was prepared to hear the review Application about the middle of June, to which dates the BMD was agreeable, but again the UDC said the only dates that suited them were dates after 23 August 2019, with the result that the dates set for the hearing of the Review Application are 27 and 28 August 2019.
According to the court papers the Parliament usually gets dissolved about the middle of August of the election year, and the August hearing dates appear to have been calculated to occur after the probable dissolution of parliament and the calling of elections in terms of part V of the Constitution of Botswana.
The BMD says to compound the delay as part of its strategy to avoid a final decision being made by the Court and, in the event of an appeal by the court of appeal, on the Review or Main Application, the Respondents; served on the Attorney General the statutory notice and served on the Attorney General a letter dated 28 May 2019 amending the statutory notice aforesaid on 28 May 2019.
The Review also made mention the fact that the Parliament of Botswana will sit in July and August 2019 commencing on Wednesday 3rd July 2019 and is scheduled to conclude on Friday 9th August 2019, at the conclusion of that session before the Review or Main Application is heard and finally determined by the Court and, in the event of an appeal the Court of Appeal, be dissolved and a Writ of elections for the holding of the 2019 general election be issued for such election to take place in October 2019.
The BMD fears that similarly the UDC will, in making such decisions, not consider members of the BMD for the inclusion amongst the paid presidential, parliamentary and council candidates. “The aforesaid exclusions by the UDC will be in violation of the rights of the BMD under the UDC Constitution.”The BMD submit that they are determined that its rights given by the UDC registered Constitution shall be preserved. “The only remedy available to the BMD for the protection of its rights aforesaid is for this Court to grant the interim interdict in this Interlocutory Application sought”.
They also submit that it is essential that this Interlocutory Application be heard and determined by the Court and, in the event of an appeal by the High Court of appeal, prior to the arrival of the days on which the candidates to be elected as the President of Botswana, Members of Parliament for Botswana, and Members of District Councils, shall be officially nominated.
“I submit that it is self- evident from the allegations above made and those made in the Review Affidavit attached above that the BMD will suffer irreparable harm if the interim interdict in this Interlocutory sought is not granted. Once lost to the BMD, the opportunity to participate in the identification of the UDC candidates to be nominated to take part in the 2019 generals elections to be recovered nor, in any manner whatsoever, replaced or compensated for. It is further submitted that the relief in the Application sought ought to be granted with costs.”
Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Review of the Constitution held a meeting in Serowe this week. The meeting was to accord Bangwato, just like other tribes, a platform to give their opinions, contributions and what they think is the horse power and limitations of the current Constitution of Botswana.
Bangwato Regent, Kgosi Serogola Seretse said, he is of the understanding that the Commission has not come for anything apart from getting their opinions on how things could be made better. His contribution was that he solely knows of only two social positions in the world; Dikgosi and Pastors. He said other positions are just benedictions. He further urged that, Batswana should respect God’s ordained protocols such as Dikgosi and Pastors.
Seretse pointed out the importance of acknowledging and appreciating Dikgosi as nation builders. He cautioned and warned that, the Commission should ensure that their dealing with Dikgosi is harmonious. He called for an amendment to be made on the ‘National Order of Precedence’ noting that Dikgosi are put at number 11, but should at least be taken a little higher to number 7.
One resident, Tshepo Moloi while giving his contribution said there must be provisions of Social Justice that ensure equal distribution of resources to all citizens. He said this provision should entail an obligation that all citizen have equal opportunities to different Government Initiatives. Moloi substantiated that, all ‘Presidential Commissions’ be engraved on the Constitution
Alfred Thogolwane who is as well a resident of the biggest village in the Central District, pointed out the need for preservation of the country and resources thereof, saying “it must dawn onto all that, the calabash that fetches water for the family cannot fixed once its broken.” Another resident, Keikantsemang Sebedi advocated for Polygamous marriage, saying that men should marry as many wives as they please. She said there is no need for any socioeconomic assessment done on men who wish to marry more than one wife.
She advised that, the country should benchmark from the Zezuru culture that does it, with no complexities. On the other hand, Sebedi said that, there must be considerations done on the Old Age Pension. She said people who earned P4000 should not receive the old Age Pension upon their fullness of age. Forshia Koloi called for amendments on Section 77 and all the provisions that speaks to the subject of Bogosi and the powers infested in them. He said they should be made more detailed and avoid ambiguity in clauses.
Mr Tlhaodi said there must be Land Audits done in the country. Citing an example of the Tati Land as one that should be thoroughly audited. He further advised that, Election Day be put on the Calendar. He said, if it happens that the day be a Saturday, there should be some special dispensation for the 7th Day Adventist Church members to take part in voting without compromising on their day of worship. Tlhaodi added that there must be People’s Complaint Commission in the country.
Speakers emphasized the need for the country to review the exercise of ‘Political Party Funding’. They articulated that lack of funding political parties’ results in political parties resorting to finding funds for themselves. They reiterated that sometimes going to the extent of getting funds through illegal means. Bangwato agreed in one accord that they want the President be tried whilst in office if suspected of any criminal offences. This was revealed in their contributions. They pointed out that, the law should not to wait until the end of their tenure.
For his part, the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission Johnson Motshwarakgole expressed gratitude to the residents of Serowe. He applauded women for their kindness saying it is only them, who always take responsibility for doing things amicably in the society.
Parliament has revealed that it plans to rollout a Community Score Card (CSC) exercise as part of sweeping reforms to its role and mandate among others.
The planed shakeup, along with the rollout of CSC will see creation of new Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Health, HIV&AIDS, Education and Skills Development, Trade and Economic Development, Agriculture, Lands and Housing and Local Governance and Social Welfare. Parliament informed government ministries and departments that the CSC is a participatory, community based monitoring and evaluation tool that enables citizens to assess the quality of public services and interact with services providers to express their concerns.
According to Parliament, the CSC will assist to inform community members about available services and their entitlements and to solicit their opinions about the accessibility and quality of certain services related to the portfolio committees mentioned. It said the main objective is for Parliament through identified oversight committees is to conduct a participatory monitoring and evaluating process that puts ownership and responsibility for delivery of services in the hands of both the Government and the service recipients.
“Through scorecards developed around identified sectors and services, communities and implementing departments remain in touch with progress made through the programme delivery cycle and are able to respond timely to bottlenecks,” the National Assembly said. Some of the measurements and expected outcomes for the rolling out of the CSC include among others, improved monitoring and economic evaluation, to determine the impact of spending, so as to be able to direct resources from where they having the least benefit to those projects and programmes where they will have a larger positive impact.
The National Assembly explained further that this could result in a willingness to close down ineffective programmes and institutions and not to implement projects that do not deliver adequate returns, improved productivity in the public services, especially given the substantial pay increases.
The National Assembly believes that the rolling out of CSC is also expected to result in efficiency savings: many public services and programmes could be delivered more effectively at lower costs, by improving management and accountability, and making use of e-services. “This would yield financial savings that could be used for development programmes or reducing the deficit,” the National Assembly said.
The exercise is also expected to result in “Careful scrutiny of subsidy schemes and termination of those that do not address market failure or assist truly needy Batswana.” The National Assembly revealed that proposed Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Wellness has been established in accordance with the Standing of National Assembly of Botswana. It explained that the mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Health and HIV/AIDS.
“There is need to identify reasons for inefficiency and poor outcomes and ensure that health system reform improve productivity and value for money. Key areas of focus for scorecard, availability of drugs, staffing ratios, accessibility of health services, speciality care and services and sexual reproductively health,” the National Assembly said.
Another proposed Committee is on Local Governance and Social Welfare. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary Oversight and Scrutiny over Government Ministries. Departments and Agencies with Portfolio responsibilities in respect of Local Governance and Social Welfare.
“Strategies under NDP 11 to improve outcomes of social uplifment include; diversiﬁcation of rural economies, development and support of small businesses, provision of social safety nets, eradication of absolute poverty, provision of quality and equitable education and harmonisation of social protection programmes,” said the National Assembly. It said social nets need to be improved so as to target these most in need (at present some social safety nets benefit many people who are not the most needy, but also miss out some of those who are needy).
“Some social development policies more broadly should also aim to reduce household vulnerability to shocks such as those arising from fluctuations in agriculture, climate change, incomes and employment and improve their ability to handle shocks, thereby building household resilience,” the National Assembly said.
Another Committee established is on Agriculture, Lands and Housing. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Institutions, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.
The National Assembly said the average growth rate of the agricultural sector since the beginning of National Development Plan 11 (NDP11) (i.e. during the 2017/2018 and 2018/19 financial years) was 2.5 percent, making it the slowest growing sector of the economy, in line with its historical performance.
“Over the same period, its share of GDP has been stagnant at around 2 percent. The sector also contributes job opportunities for about 80 000 adults. Food security has become paramount since the onset of the corona virus pandemic,” the National Assembly said. The National Assembly said the Government realises the need to increase food production for products in which Botswana has a cooperative advantage such as beef, grains and other horticulture products.
The Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Development has also been established. One of the mandates of Committee would be to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over government ministries, departments and agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Finance, Development, Trade and Industry.
“The sector is at the core of industrialisation aspirations and strategies for economic development in Botswana. Manufacturing in particular can be the driver of economic growth through technological improvements and innovation,” the National Assembly said. Hence, it said, the development of the sector could also foster export diversification and export led-growth in Botswana while benefitting from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).
Two senior members of Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) have threatened legal action against Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), it has transpired. The threat is contained in an answering affidavit of Director General of DCEC, Tymon Katlholo in which he is seeking an interdiction from High Court to stop the DIS from accessing investigation files at his office.
After the DIS detained DCEC officials Joao Salbany and Tsholofelo Bareetsi on December 16, 2021, they filed an official complaint against DIS and some officials. They complained about abuse of office by DIS and five officers. Salbany and Bareetsi also complained about unlawful detention by DIS and unlawful dissemination of classified information contrary to Section 44 of Corruption and Economic Crime Act. “The DIS interviews were premised on information divulged during the course of official DCEC work product, that is the Monday media brief meeting,” they wrote.
They further requested leave to institute a civil suit against the DIS and its officers, and invariably the State for inhuman and degrading treatment they suffered and unlawful detention. They also pondered a declaratory seeking a sanction against the DIS and Botswana Police Service (BPS) and clarification of the role of BPS officers seconded to DIS.
“The envisaged suit against BPS and DIS officers and the DIS will inevitably centre on investigations done by the DCEC and the scope of the protection availed to DCEC officers for conduct done in the course and scope of DCEC official duties.” The duo said it was self-evident from the conduct of the DIS officers that there was nothing urgent about the information required by the DIS, justifying their detention at its Sebele facility from 08:30 hours on December 16, 2021 until 02:00 hours on December 17, 2021.
They reasoned that the information required by the DIS could have been obtained by a simple request to DCEC Director General. “What the DIS did was to seek to intimidate officers of the DCEC whom they knew were carrying out investigations against some of the DIS officers who were part of their investigation team. This turn of events has a chilling effect not only on the functioning of the DCEC but also on the official conduct of officers of the DCEC as to how they conduct their official duties.”
They concluded by stating that in the event the request is granted, they would further request to be advised as to the provision of legal representation as the unalwful detention and the degrading and inhuman treatment by the DIS was in relation to matters conducted by and on behalf of the DCEC.