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.”
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.