Connect with us
Advertisement

Boko slams Molokomme over controversial bills

Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Duma Boko

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.

Continue Reading

News

Civil Service volatility: Democracy vs Bureaucracy

19th April 2021
President Masisi

Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.

These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.

The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”

The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.

“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”

Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.

The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.

Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.

One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.

But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.

One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.

Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.

In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.

Continue Reading

News

Morupisi fights for freedom in court

19th April 2021
morupisi

Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.

Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!

Continue Reading

News

Pressure mounts on Biden to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents

19th April 2021
Joe Biden

United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.

According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.

“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.

A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.

Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.

In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”

While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.

Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility.  Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.

For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies.  European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.

It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.

The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.

“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”

“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.”
The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!