Some members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi (House of chiefs) have called for the utmost holistic review of the Botswana constitution in its entirety to address the current challenges bedevilling the country, and not just trivial face-lift amendments.
The members’ call come at the backdrop of the controversial debate of the constitution (amendment) Bill, 2016 (no. 3 of 2016) which seeks to increase the number of Specially Elected members from 4 to 6. The object of the Bill is also to increase the number of Ministers and Assistant Ministers by 2 each.
When debating the contentious Bill, which was nonetheless passed by a slim vote of 16 to 14 following spirited and robust deliberations, some dikgosi including outspoken Specially Elected Chief, Thabo Maruje II Masunga submitted that the ancient constitution which is still in use as it is, needs a holistic overhaul.
When speaking to WeekendPost shortly after Ntlo ya dikgosi session at the Parliament buildings in Gaborone this week, Maruje asserted that the country should come to a conclusion to look at this constitution “as a whole”.
“The current constitution needs outmost overhaul, we should address this constitution,” he insisted.
Understandably Maruje’s view echoes that of many members of Ntlo ya dikgosi who do not have the courage and confidence to clearly spell it out.
He even suggested that specific areas “they” (some dikgosi) want reviewed include the issue of equity which still has certain challenges. In particular he made reference to the issue of tribes which are recognised by the constitution as major tribes while there is no mention of many other tribes living within the borders of the country.
“That on its own spells out something,” he said adding that “as a Kalanga if a foreigner asks me where I am in the constitution I will be so embarrassed to tell them that I feature in it only in vague language.”
“You know the constitution guards against what might happen, so am saying the issue of equity should be looked at,” he maintained.
In addition the Specially Elected Chief said Botswana has been in a middle income bracket for many years and therefore needs a new constitution that will address current issues affecting the country today.
“Does the constitution still address the issues currently affecting Batswana? Does it still address the issue of Botswana classification of a middle income economy which is not clear it will be for how long?” he asked rhetorically before explaining that, “my view is that Botswana is a mature democracy and there are many issues that are coming out; as much as we are a middle income country it hasn’t translated to betterment of the people,” he stated.
“The understanding is that to forge ahead as a nation we still need to revisit how we are founded pertaining to the supreme document- constitution,” he asserted as he stressed that the holistic review will renew the nations’ aspirations and reflect on what we have achieved as a nation since 1966.
“50 years into our democracy, we have done well and I think we have to appreciate ourselves as a nation. Every Motswana has played a key role in these years. But my view is that 50 years going forward there must be a look at superlative law because there are emerging challenges and they need a new set of dialogue and another set of laws,” he added.
He maintained however that parliament should diligently perform its role of making laws, and playing a watchdog and oversight role, and there should be a separation from the highly powerful executive.
His view is, the constitution must respond to the current challenges and should not be limited by an old constitution as is the case today.
“It is now becoming a limitation, it can’t respond to current situations. It’s a sign that something is not right.”
According to Maruje, something that takes precedence like a constitution cannot be changed willy-nilly but rather wholly.
“The constitution is the blueprint in which Batswana have decided to be governed, but if you change the constitution, it cascades to the governance structure as well. So if you are going to impose 2 more people (Specially elected legislators) we have to soberly ask ourselves if we indeed need this or not,” he further stated.
“I have a serious concern with it because the constitution remains a very important document in the sense that if there is anything that you touch in the constitution there must be a consensus.”
Botswana’s heritage is clearly defined by the constitution including the kgotla system where communities are consulted. Maruje argues that there was no consultation with regards to the review as only the government gazette, which he said only speaks to a certain audience was used. “The kgotla system, dipitso and other forums are there. They can only be strengthened to continue playing their role,” he asserted
“So we should not deny Batswana the power to access information, freedom of information, freedom of association and the freedom to be consulted as they ultimately give a citizen the power to arrive at a particular decision,” he further stressed his point. Constitution should be written in indigenous languages
According to Maruje, we have hidden much knowledge by not writing some crucial documents like the constitution in Setswana,” such documents could have been written in Setswana, Sesarwa, Sekalaka, Sehumbukushu, and any other language spoken in the country.”
“Now we are talking the developments goals which says we should not leave anyone behind, that means we must try to push anyone at the back foot or who are behind the power to self-determination because it influences the way he thinks, acts, and the mental and psychological state. So I think time has come and yes English is our official language, that we can’t change, but equally languages must be able to empower,” he noted.
He also mentioned that the constitution should be included in the education curriculum. “I believe Batswana must be taught the constitution and the ultimate goals so that they can make part of the debate on it and that every Motswana can execute what they think is the right thing or needs to be done as espoused for by the constitution.” Of Kgosi Kgafela and Bogosi Act….
Maruje’s view on Kgosi Kgafela’s issue is that Bogosi be the given role to be part of a society of Botswana and not have political interference nor give power to a minister to de-recognise a Kgosi.
“I still don’t understand how because bogosi plays an oversight role on the overall running affairs of the government. I believe kgosi ke kgosi ka morafhe so morafe must be the one deciding on the fate of the kgosi.”
“Giving the minister the power of authority over other key institutions going forward will be a problem,” he highlighted while maintaining that Bogosi Act also needs to be reviewed.
Is Maruje joining politics?
The vocal member of Ntlo ya Dikgosi, Kgosi Maruje II says he has no intention of joining politics. “this issue has come out so many times and is starting to worry me personally, and now I always have to dispute that am not a member of a certain political party!” he exclaimed.
“Let me put it on record” he further said, “I am not a member of any political party. I don’t have a membership of any political party and I will give you that assignment to go find out.”
He further stated that, “”I can only join politics if Jesus says something. I will wait for that phone call from heaven. If it comes, there will be no question about it because I believe that as a Kgosi God has given me enough grace as not everyone can be a Kgosi.”
Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng together with Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi, this week refused to name and shame the worst performing Ministries and to disclose the best performing Ministries since beginning of 12th parliament including the main reasons for underperformance.
Of late there have been a litany of complaints from both ends of the aisle with cabinet members accused of providing parliament with unsatisfactory responses to the questions posed. In fact for some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers a meeting with the ministers and party leadership is overdue to address their complaints. Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP, Mephato Reatile is also not happy with ministers’ performance.
Bokamoso Private Hospital is battling a P10 million legal suit for a botched fibroids operation which resulted in a woman losing an entire womb and her prospects of bearing children left at zero.
The same suit has also befallen the Attorney General of Botswana who is representing the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their contributory negligence of having the unlawful removal of a patient, Goitsemang Magetse’s womb.
According to the court papers, Magetse says that sometimes in November 2019, she was diagnosed with fibroids at Marina Hospital where upon she was referred to Bokamoso Private Hospital to schedule an appointment for an operation to remove the fibroids, which she did.
Magetse continues that at the instance of one Dr Li Wang, the surgeon who performed the operation, and unknown to her, an operation to remove her whole womb was conducted instead. According to Magetse, it was only through a Marina Hospital regular check-up that she got to learn that her whole womb has been removed.
“At the while she was under the belief that only her fibroids have been removed. By doing so, the hospital has subjected itself to some serious delictual liability in that it performed a serious and life changing operation on patient who was under the belief that she was doing a completely different operation altogether. It thus came as a shock when our client learnt that her womb had been removed, without her consent,” said Magetse’s legal representatives, Kanjabanga and Associates in their summons.
The letter further says, “this is an infringement of our client‘s rights and this infringement has dire consequences on her to the extent that she can never bear children again”. ‘It is our instruction therefore, to claim as we hereby do, damages in the sum of BWP 10,000,000 (ten million Pula) for unlawful removal of client’s womb,” reads Kanjabanga Attorneys’ papers. The defendants are yet to respond to the plaintiff’s papers.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are tumors made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop in the uterus. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime — however, not everyone will develop symptoms or require treatment.
The most important characteristic of fibroids is that they’re almost always benign, or noncancerous. That said, some fibroids begin as cancer — but benign fibroids can’t become cancer. Cancerous fibroids are very rare. Because of this fact, it’s reasonable for women without symptoms to opt for observation rather than treatment.
Studies show that fibroids grow at different rates, even when a woman has more than one. They can range from the size of a pea to (occasionally) the size of a watermelon. Even if fibroids grow that large, we offer timely and effective treatment to provide relief.
The Alliance for Progressives (AP) President Ndaba Gaolathe has said that despite major accolades that Botswana continues to receive internationally with regard to the state of economy, the prospects for the future are imperilled.
Delivering his party Annual Policy Statement on Thursday, Gaolathe indicated that Botswana is in a state of do or die, and that the country’s economy is on a sick bed. With a major concern for poverty, Gaolathe pointed out that almost half of Botswana’s people are ravaged by or are about to sink into poverty. “Our young people have lost the fire to dream about what they could become,” he said.