Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Duma Boko has criticised Attorney General, Dr Athalia Molokomme for what he called ‘ill-advising government and drafting bills which are not in confluence with the constitution’.
Boko’s statement comes in the wake of controversial bills having been presented in the just ended session of Parliament. Government had presented three bills before the legislative house; the Botswana Examination Council (BEC) Amendment Bill, the Trade Dispute Amendment and the Non-Banking Financial Institution Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) Bill of which only the latter passed.
Leader of the Opposition Duma Boko told Parliament last week that several bills had been presented to Parliament and passed despite them contravening the constitution of the Republic.
Boko remarked that most of the Acts, if challenged in court, will be scrapped off because they grossly violate the constitution.
“The role of Parliament is to pass laws, but not laws that are at variance with or in conflict with the Constitution. This Parliament cannot sit idle and say once it comes here we assume it is okay,” Boko said.
Boko questioned the constitutionality of the new NBFIRA bill which has since been passed by Parliament.
“It suggests to me that it was never put through a constitutional lens. It was never viewed from the standpoint of the Constitution, and that is a fundamental error,” he asserted.
“Fundamental because if it offends against the Constitution, it should not pass here because we would be failing in our job if we can pass legislation that is inconsistent with the Constitution, and that has happened a couple of times before.”
He asserted that for the bill to indicate that ‘Inspector must not be impeded in the carrying out of any inspection, and that inspection arises from a reasonable suspicion that the Act has been violated’, would be improper since the bill does not state who will test for such reasonableness of the suspicion.
Boko concluded that the bill is inconsistent with Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, therefore offering no safeguards envisaged by the section 5 of the constitution.
The leader of opposition further stated that before a piece of proposed legislation comes to Parliament, it must have been subjected to a rigorous constitutional examination by Attorneys of relevant experience, supervised by the Attorney General.
“I am afraid and regret to say, that does not seem to have happened in relation to this particular piece of legislation,” he said.
“What is the Attorney General doing if we can be sitting here to look at palpably unconstitutional propositions? What is the job of that office? Are we serious if we can come here and be debating issues that are cognisably unconstitutional?”
Minister of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) Unity Dow withdrew the Examination Council (BEC) Amendment Bill subsequent to strong disapproval from various quarters.
The proposed amendments of the bill had sought to compel teachers to supervise and invigilate external examinations despite the High Court having ruled that it was not the responsibility of the teachers to do so.
The proposed bill was also met with criticism within the ruling party resulting in the bill finally being withdrawn. The BEC Amendment bill was also withdrawn; meanwhile, the Trade Dispute Amendment Bill is before Parliament and has been debated and pending enactment.
The Trade Dispute Amendment bill is also before the High Court and a debate ensued on whether it was proper for Parliament to debate a matter which was before the courts.
The subjudice rule prevents discussion of matters which are before the courts.
The Trade Dispute Amendment bill is seeking to make a number of professions in the public service including teaching and employees of mass media to fall under the Essential Service category, a development which would prevent them from engaging in industrial action.
In 2013, Parliament passed the Public Health Bill resulting in advocacy group Botswana Network of Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) seeking court intervention on the matter. BONELA argued that some sections of the bill were unconstitutional.
The Attorney General who is principal legal advisor to the government is appointed by the president and also supervises Directorate of Public Prosecutions. a
Boko has clashed with Molokomme before in 2014 following the general elections, after the Attorney General threw the country into constitutional crisis by challenging the constitutionality of Parliament standing orders with regards to the election of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the endorsement of the Vice President.
The AG lost the case and the subsequent appeal, costing government a total of P2.5 million in legal fees.
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.