The Attorney General (AG) and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) are to appear before the High Court to explain why they have introduced an unconstitutional regulation that threatens citizens’ right to freedom of association.
Just a week after the AG was humiliated before the High Court over its failure to understand the Constitution vis-à-vis Parliamentary regulations, the country’s legal advisor has once again been accused of trying to manipulate the constitution, this time around by introducing a law that flies in the face of the country’s and international laws.
The regulation at the heart of the matter is the DCEC Act, which was introduced last year, ostensibly aimed at prohibiting DCEC staff members from joining trade unions.
The said section reads that, “An officer of the Directorate shall not become a member of any trade union, or anybody or association affiliated to a trade union, or anybody of association the object of which is to control or influence the conditions of employment in any trade or profession.”
The National Amalgamated, Local and Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU), whose members from the state agency resigned en masse, took the matter to court because it believes the newly introduced law triggered their resignations.
The DCEC management is said to have instructed and warned any staff member, who might have joined any trade union to resign their membership, as their continued association was a violation of the amended law.
Through court papers filed by Tshiamo Rantao of Rantao Kewagamang Attorneys, the union is of the view that the regulation is an “unreasonable limitation on DCEC employees’ right to organise” and that it is a violation of the Botswana Constitution, which provides for the right to association for every citizen.
The Constitution clearly states that, “Except with her or his consent no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his or her freedom of assembly and association. That is to say, his or her right to assemble freely and to associate with other persons and in particular to form or belong to trade unions or other associations for the protection of or her interests.”
The Public Service Act, of 2008, also allows every public service employee to join a trade union of their choice for the purpose of collective bargaining.
Further, the position taken by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Committee of Experts and Committee on Freedom of Association support the country’s Constitution in regards to the freedom and association provisions.
However, the ILO makes the Armed Forces and the Police the only two exemptions from unionising, although with some limitations, civilian employees in these organs are allowed to unionise.
The DCEC, which comprisdes mostly former police detectives, amongst others, has made a blanket provision to prohibit all its employees, including, drivers and cleaners from joining unions.
The union, therefore, wants the High Court to declare the DCEC regulation in question “unconstitutional” and struck down.
However, the DCEC and the AG would go all the way to defend the provision. Although David Moloise of the Attorney General’s Chambers and his DCEC team failed to file their heads of argument this week, they have promised to do so by next week Friday.
The matter was postponed to next February to allow Government to file the necessary papers. The AG was ordered to pay the legal costs of the day.
This matter comes a week after the AG lost a High Court case in which it was challenging Parliament Standing Orders in regards to the election of the Speaker and deputy Speaker of Parliament and the endorsement of the Vice President.
The AG was seemingly in support of President Ian Khama who wanted Members of Parliament (MPs) to vote for their preferred candidates by the show of hand instead of secret ballot.
Although the Parliamentary Standing Orders clearly stated that the voting would be done by secret ballot, the AG contended that the provision was unconstitutional.
However, the matter was ruled in favour of the Parliament Standing Orders.
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.