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Parliament is not supreme – VP Masisi

Masisi warns Parliament against outsourcing bills drafting  

Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi has cautioned against the ‘misconception’ that the National Assembly is supreme in Botswana. Responding to President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s State of the Nation Address, Masisi observed that Botswana has Constitutional supremacy.  

The Vice President observed that there are issues that may confuse some people – he said unlike in the United Kingdom, Botswana has a written Constitution and while in the UK Parliament is supreme according to their law; this is not the case in Botswana.

“In Botswana therefore, we have Constitutional Supremacy as opposed to Parliamentary Supremacy.  In other words, the Botswana Constitution is the starting point for determining the powers and mandate of the various branches of government, viz, Executive, Parliament and Judiciary. This is often referred to in constitutional law parlance as separation of powers,” he explained.

Masisi said according to the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers, the three organs of government, the legislature, executive and judiciary, have their own, separate spheres of operation.

The Vice President said the Botswana Constitution delineates these spheres and in section 47 (1), vests executive power in the President. The formulation of government policy is a vital function of the Executive, and the Constitution under section 50(2) specifically provides that "The President shall, so far as practicable and subject to the provisions of this Constitution, consult the Cabinet on matters of policy and the exercise of his functions".

“The role of Parliament is to make laws, and this power is granted by section 86 of the Constitution. According to the doctrine of the separation of powers, the legislature makes the laws; the executive put the laws into operation; and the judiciary interprets the laws. The powers and functions of each are separate and carried out by separate personnel. No single agency is able to exercise complete authority, each being interdependent on the other. Power thus divided should prevent absolutism or corruption arising from the opportunities that unchecked power offers.  The doctrine the separation of powers can be extended to enable the three branches to act as checks and balances on each other” explained Masisi.

Masisi said each branch's independence helps keep the others from exceeding their power, thus ensuring the rule of law and protecting individual rights.  With respect to the draft bills, the Vice President said as far back as 27th March 2012, the National Assembly was advised by the Attorney General's Chambers (AGC) in writing that the proposed Bills contains provisions that are contrary to the Constitution and repeat provisions of the Public Service Act.  


Masisi also warned Parliament against outsourcing drafting of bills to consultants.


He observed that on the 5th October 2012 the Attorney General further advised the National Assembly that some of their proposals were unconstitutional; some were in conflict with existing laws while some were a repetition of existing laws. 

“That notwithstanding, the National Assembly proceeded to outsource the drafting of the bills to a consultant. The AG has consistently advised on this position at a number of meetings held during the 10th Parliament, specifically those chaired by the former Vice President Dr PHK Kedikilwe, in the presence of the former Speaker during 2014.”

 

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BODANSA strikes gold with a handsome P45K windfall from Turnstar Holdings

27th February 2024

The Botswana DanceSport Association (BODANSA) has been graced with a financial boon of P45,000 courtesy of Turnstar Holdings. This generous endowment is earmarked for the illustrious Botswana International Dance Sport Grand Prix Championships, which are scheduled to animate Gaborone from Friday to Saturday.

At a media engagement held early today, BODANSA’s Marketing Maestro, Tiro Ntwayagae, shared that Turnstar Holdings Limited has bestowed a gift of P45,000 towards the grand spectacle.

“We are thrilled to announce that this backing will enable us to orchestrate a cultural soirĂ©e at the Game City Marque locale, a night brimming with cultural fervor set for March 1, 2024, from 6pm to the stroke of midnight.

This enchanting space will also serve as the battleground for the preliminaries of traditional dance ensembles—spanning the rhythmically rich Setapa to the euphoric beats of Sebirwa, the spirited Seperu, the heavenly Hosana, and more—in a competition folded into the Traditional Dance Groups Category. The ensemble that dances into the judges’ hearts will clinch a grand prize of P10,000,” elaborated Ntwayagae.

He further illuminated that the cultural eve would not only celebrate traditional melodies but also the fresh beats of contemporary dance variants including Hip Hop, Sbujwa, Amapiano, among others, in a dazzling display of modern dance mastery.

Moreover, these championships carry the prestigious recognition by the World DanceSport Federation as a qualifying round for the Breakdance category for the Paris 2024 Olympics. “This is a monumental opportunity for athletes to leap towards their Olympic dreams during one of the penultimate qualifiers,” underscored Ntwayagae.

Looking ahead to March 2, 2024, the festivities will propel into the University of Botswana Indoor Sports Arena for the championship’s climactic showdowns encompassing Breakdance, Latin, and Ballroom Dancing.

 

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Government of Botswana yet to sign, ratify the UN-CRPD

26th February 2024

In Botswana, a beacon of democracy in Africa, the right to participate in the political discourse is a cornerstone of its societal structure. It’s an avenue through which citizens shape the rules and systems that govern their everyday lives. Despite this, recent studies indicate that Individuals with Disabilities (IWDs) are notably absent from political dialogues and face substantial hurdles in exercising their democratic freedoms.

Research within the nation has uncovered that IWDs encounter difficulties in engaging fully with the political process, with a pronounced gap in activities beyond mere voting. The call for environments that are both accessible and welcoming to IWDs is loud, with one participant, who has a physical disability, spotlighting the absence of ramps at voting venues and the dire need for enhanced support to facilitate equitable involvement in the electoral process.

The challenges highlighted by the study participants pinpoint the structural and social obstacles that deter IWDs from participating wholly in democracy. The inaccessibility of voting facilities and the lack of special accommodations for people with disabilities are critical barriers. Those with more significant or intellectual disabilities face even steeper challenges, often feeling marginalized and detached from political engagement.

To surmount these obstacles, there is an urgent appeal for Botswana to stride towards more inclusive and accessible political stages for IWDs. This necessitates a committed effort from both the government and relevant entities to enforce laws and policies that protect the rights of IWDs to partake in the political framework. Enhancing awareness and understanding of the political landscape among IWDs, alongside integrating inclusive practices within political entities and governmental bodies, is crucial.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing an inclusive political environment, Botswana can live up to its democratic ideals, ensuring every citizen, regardless of ability, can have a substantive stake in the country’s political future.

 

 

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.

 

 

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