Ignatius Moswaane, Member of Parliament for Francistown West
The Member of Parliament for Francistown West, Ignatius Moswaane says he intends to have a private and sincere talk with the Speaker of the National Assembly, Gladys Kokorwe over their long standing differences and constant disagreements in the house.
The obviously frustrated MP revealed his intentions this week, shortly after the Speaker refused to let him interrupt a debate and threatened to throw him out of the house.
“I intend to arrange a meeting with the Speaker so that we can iron out our differences. Obviously she has issues with me and I do not have a clue as to what the cause of the problem is. I am an elected Member of the house and I do not have to always be denied the right to speak,” Moswaane revealed.
The clash between the two leaders of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) played out before the Thursday sitting when Moswaane wanted to rise on a point of procedure and Kokorwe refused to let him speak. The Speaker told Moswaane that he was wrong to rise while she was still holding the floor and explained to him that his action was completely unprocedural. However after she sat, she still would not allow Moswaane to rise on the same point as she said she had already overruled him.
A brief heated exchange ensued between the two and Moswaane felt that the Speaker was being unfair on him.
“I am beginning to believe that the Speaker hates me because I do not understand why she would not allow me to speak,” Moswaane had earlier said while in Parliament before he voluntarily walked out of the house.
The tension between Moswaane and the presiding offices of Parliament has been going on for several Months. Since the beginning of this year the Legislator who is serving his very first term in Parliament has been complaining that the Speaker and the deputy Speaker of the house, Kagiso Molatlhegi were ill-treating him. Even though the Presiding officers maintain that Moswaane is yet to learn and understand Parliament standing orders he still feels oppressed and abused.
“This has been going on for some time now. As you may recall, I suffered the same mistreatment when I tried to table motions in Parliament before. I do not want this to continue anymore, hence I want to arrange a meeting with the Speaker,” Moswaane further explained in this week’s interview.
Early this year the tension between Moswaane and the presiding officers escalated and caused Parliament to be adjourned after Moswaane went berserk and verbally attacked his own party leaders when the speaker would not allow him to table a motion in which he wanted the Botswana National Youth Council to be investigated for maladministration.
Moswaane, when in Parliament often break ranks with his party and at some point he wanted President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama to come to Parliament and account whether or not he had fulfilled what he promised electorates during the past general election’s campaign. The motion that never saw the light of the day further wanted President Khama to account before MPs a number of tacky issues.
Following their loss to the Duma Boko-led lobby in the Botswana National Front (BNF)’s national congress last month, some members of the party are reportedly considering forming a new political party.
According to members, the new party will be formed after they receive a tip-off that the BNF will do all it can to ensure that the aggrieved members do not participate in the 2024 national elections. This will reportedly done through a carefully orchestrated primary elections elimination campaign.
Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.
Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.
She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”
Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.
On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.
“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.
One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.
The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”
The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.
Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.
Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.
The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.