The controversial motion that was passed by parliament recently on the direct election of the president will take some time before it is implemented, and this will be long past the 2019 General Elections, Weekend Post has learnt.
The disputed motion was brought by the maverick and controversial Member of Parliament for Nata/Gweta constituency, Polson Majaga and approved by the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary party caucus. However it later faced a strong resistance from members of the cabinet including President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Vice President Slumber Tsogwane. Tsogwane even went a step further and rebuked Majaga for bringing the motion to parliament floor without the blessing of both cabinet and president.
Speaking to Weekend Post outside parliament buildings this week the Minister responsible for the Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Nonofho Molefhi confirmed that the disputed motion will take some while before implementation. He also insisted that it will not even see the light in the approaching 2019 General Elections citing wrong timing. “Everyone is agreeable that the passed motion cannot happen this year. It is just wrong timing, and bearing in mind the noise it would raise as it’s an election year,” the minister told this publication.
Molefhi said the ruling party legislators especially cabinet Ministers only object to the motion with regard to the timing. “That is all people are complaining about, just the timing, even myself, I was very clear in parliament that this motion will not be implemented this year.” He further stressed that it practically cannot work particularly as it includes amending the law, consulting and doing public education and therefore “we cannot walk people blind folded into a new electoral system with few months left to the General Elections.”
According to Molefhi, Batswana if they are to go that direction they will have to be conscious of what they are doing; what process are involved; what are the likely outcomes that can be there, and for such outcomes how do we mitigate the consequences while stressing “those are the things that we should consider.”
The Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration cautioned that following the approval, there is need to look at the entire clauses in the constitution and those at the Electoral Act in terms of how they can be amended so that they are in harmony. “How are we going to do public education on this and what are the implications on IEC in terms of its capacity. In short those to me are our real concerns with regard to the motion,” Molefhi highlighted.
The Selibe Phikwe East legislator also observed that many motions always pass in parliament as the process of implementation often drags too long as it’s a naturally tedious process. He pointed out that there is a committee in parliament given the responsibility on making assurances that will monitor the implementation of motions which has been passed through parliament. The committee, Molefhi said will then check with the relevant Ministries to see how far on working with its implementation.
He highlighted that it’s up to them to see how to prioritise the motions passed at parliament and in turn they push the Executive to follow through. The Minister explained that the clause in the constitution with regard to the direct election of the president is not an entrenched clause or provision that warrants a referendum. There are prescribed clauses that warrants referendum because they are entrenched, but this particular provision – of election of the president – is not, he clarified.
On his part Gaborone Bonnington North lawmaker Advocate Duma Gideon Boko who was invited into the conversation as a law Advocate of repute and competence also told Weekend Post in an interview that the motion does not need a referendum. Boko stated: “if the effect of any amendment to the constitution is to affect a retrenched provisions then a referendum is automatic. But in this case it is not.”
The opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President emphasised that the said motion concerning the election of the president is therefore not among those provisions which are entrenched. “So with this one, they will be crafted and we will see how to change them for direct election of the president. Also at the Electoral Act,” the Gaborone Bonnington North stated.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.