I took Parliament to Court – Molokomme
The Attorney General, Dr Athalia Molokomme has released a statement in which she dismisses reports that the application before the High Court challenging the Constitutionality of the Parliamentary Standing Orders was sponsored by President Lt Gen Ian Khama.
According to Molokomme, “the fact of the matter is that the ex parte application has been lodged by the Attorney General, who has the constitutional mandate to do so. It has been duly served upon the three parties who are represented in Parliament: the Botswana Democratic Party, the Botswana Congress Party and the Umbrella for Democratic Change, who are cited as Respondents in view of their interest in the matter.”
The AG is concerned that the perception which has been created by some reports that the President, in his capacity as such, or, alternatively, as the head of his political party, the Botswana Democratic Party, approached the Court through my office is not correct.
“I considered it appropriate, for the avoidance of doubt, and in light of the events and media commentary following the recently held general elections, to communicate with the general public regarding the constitutional application before the High Court with respect to the election of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the endorsement of the Vice President.”
Molokomme explained that following the general elections that were conducted on 24 October 2014, and in my capacity as the Attorney General, on the 29th of October I instituted legal proceedings in the High Court on an urgent basis to determine the constitutionality of certain Standing Orders of the National Assembly relating to the election of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the endorsement of the Vice President.
“The specific remedy being sought in the legal proceedings is for an order declaring Standing Orders 4.3, 4.4, 4.5, 4.6, 4.11, 4.14 and 6.1 to be unconstitutional and ultra vires section 89(5) as read with sections 39, 59, and 74 of the Constitution.
As will be expected in such a matter of national interest, the media and the public in general have shown significant interest in this case, specifically, the nature of the legal issues it raises, and its consequences for the operations of the government and Parliament in particular.”
The constitutional milestones following the general election have unfolded as follows:
• Following his swearing in on 28 October 2014, His Excellency the issued a Proclamation under section 90(1) of the Constitution declaring that a session of Parliament be held on 31st October 2014;
• Parliament was indeed convened on 31st October 2014, and all 57 Elected MPs and 4 Specially Elected MPs were sworn in by the Clerk of the National Assembly in accordance with section 71 of the Constitution, as read with section 76(2) of the Constitution and Standing Order 4.2 of the National Assembly. However, the Clerk of the National Assembly did not proceed to elect a Speaker, Deputy Speaker and endorse the Vice President;
• This was on the basis of my advice that in light of the pending court proceedings, no Parliamentary transaction touching upon the standing orders in question should be undertaken, as that would violate the sub judice rule.
• Following the swearing in of the MPs, His Excellency the President appointed the Cabinet under the provisions of Chapter IV, Part II of the Constitution, whose members were announced on 30 October 2014. The Executive Branch of government is therefore fully operational.
• According to the Constitution, ‘no business shall be transacted in the National Assembly (other than an election to the office of Speaker) at any time when the office of Speaker is vacant’. This means that pending the final decision of the Courts, Parliament shall not sit to conduct its business.
• However, an orientation seminar will be held as planned for members of the 11th Parliament on 3rd to 7th November 2014. It is against the foregoing that I appeal to the media and other commentators to exercise caution when reporting on this weighty and complex constitutional matter. Regrettably, some reports have been at best inaccurate, and at worst misleading. Without delving the issues before the Courts, which shall in due course be pronounced upon by the Courts, I must emphasise the following:
“Finally, I wish to reiterate that the Constitution is the supreme law of Botswana, and the Attorney General, like all elected officials and public officers, has sworn allegiance to uphold it. This is the basis upon which the application to the High Court is predicated,” says Dr. Athalia Molokomme.
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Upon receiving the donation on behalf of the students, Charity Sambire, the President of the Student Representative Council, expressed her gratitude. Sambire specifically thanked Pep Store for their generous gift, speaking on behalf of the students, especially the girl child.
She conveyed their sincere appreciation for Pep Store’s compassion and quoted the adage, “Blessed is the hand that gives.” Sambire expressed the students’ hope for Pep Storesâ€™ prosperity, enabling them to continue supporting the students. As a gesture of gratitude, the students pledged to excel academically.
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Madome emphasized the significance of the donation in preventing the girl child from missing lessons and its potential to improve the school’s overall results. She expressed the school’s gratitude and expressed a desire for continued support from Pep Stores.
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Botswana misses out critical PAP committee meeting
The Pan African Parliament (PAP) committee on gender, family, youth and people with disability in its sitting considered, adopted and recommended to the plenary session the preliminary report on the framework for the model law on gender equality.
According to the last weekâ€™s media release from PAP which is sitting with its various committees until June 2nd,Â the committee is following up the PAP initiative to draw up a model law on gender equality to enable national governments to harmonize, modernize and standardize their legislations to address local needs is set to be discussed in Plenary.
However, what is concerning is the fact that Botswana which is a member state missed the deliberations. Kgosi Mosadi Seboko who sat in the committee representing Botswana has since been ejected by parliament and this is a huge blow for a nation that is still battling equity and gender balance.
â€śAlthough PAP has no legislative powers it makes model laws for member states to adopt. PAP also develops protocols to be ratified by countries. The input of countries at Committee state is extremely critical. It now means the voice of Botswana is missing the discussions leading up to development of protocols or model laws,â€ť said one of Botswanaâ€™s representative at PAP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who is attending the current session.
While Botswana is missing, the committee meeting took place on the sidelines of the Sixth PAP second ordinary Session being held under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, â€śThe Year of AfCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Areaâ€ť in Midrand, South Africa and will run up to 2 June 2023. Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala expressed satisfaction with preliminary processes undertaken so far towards the formulation of the Model Law,â€ť a release from the PAP website reads.
“The law should be suitable to all countries whatever the predominant culture or religion is. The aim is to give an opportunity to women to participate in the economic, political and social development of the continent. Women are not well positioned and face a lot of obstacles. We are introducing the idea of equity in the Law because we cannot talk about equality without equity,” said Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala in the press statement.
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BDP MPs demand review of Ministers performance
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers were left frustrated when State Minister Kabo Morwaeng failed to furnish them with reports from various ministries at a party retreat held last month.
The two-day retreat of BDP MPs at Notwane Farms was held to discuss the implementation and progress of government projects in line with the partyâ€™s 2019 general elections manifesto, in order to assert themselves and press the President to take action against ineffective members of his cabinet. They believed that the laxity of these members could cost them the elections next year.
To accomplish this, the party had requested that each ministry submit their reports to the State Ministry, as it was the most senior ministry. These reports were expected to be assessed at the retreat to evaluate service delivery and the implementation of the party manifesto.
The ministries submitted their performance reports to the Ministry as agreed, but Masisi and the MPs did not have the opportunity to review them. This was the main agenda of the retreat, but when it commenced, and many were anticipating the reports, they were nowhere to be found.
â€śMinister Morwaeng told us (MPs) that he forgot to prepare them, and as a result, there was nothing to discuss. He said he would share those reports in our WhatsApp group. To us, that was an insult because it is a very serious matter, and we needed to discuss it and see which ministry is failing and how it can be assisted to ensure that service delivery is met,â€ť revealed one MP to WeekendPost.
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It is understood that the Ministry of Lands and Water Affairs, as well as the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, performed well, while the Ministry of Health and the State Ministry performed poorly.
The MPs are primarily concerned about the lack of correlation between the ministries’ recurrent and development budgets.
“You would notice that in some cases, a ministry would spend their recurrent budget accordingly, but when you look at their development expenditure, it is at 15 percent. That’s the money that should ensure that people receive services and amenities, and we wanted to advise ministers to communicate with bureaucrats to address this,” added the MP.
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â€śThe state of our roads and infrastructure is in disrepair. What irks us the most is that we have been complaining about these things for some time, but there has been no change. We demand progress.”
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