In an unprecedented event, Parliament has this week unanimously granted President Mokgweetsi Masisi with sweeping powers to rule the country alone by decree through State of Emergency powers (SoE) for 6 months.
The period was requested by President Masisi who reasoned he wanted to fight the deadly Corona Virus also known as COVID 19. The move comes after Botswana recorded 13 confirmed cases although the country is currently on 28 days lockdown to avoid the spread.
Members of Parliament defied the lockdown for an emergency meeting in Gaborone to seek mandate for President Masisi and his government to combat COVID 19 through State of Emergency powers. The move will render parliament irrelevant and hopeless as the president would not need it to make or change any law, during the 6 month period, he so wishes.
The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) triumphed through their numerical strengths although they failed to state compelling reasons to back up their justifications of the controversial 6 months. Although the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) had good points for suggesting 28 days there were in vain when it came to the vote.
Subsequent to 28 days, UDC even went further to compromise for 3 months to allow for strong accountability with the leverage to extend. It is understood that even despite calling this emergency powers, parliament may still sit in the July if the circumstances of the Corona Virus dictates so.
Speaking to Weekend Post after parliament passed the motion, an independent Gaborone based attorney Uyapo Ndadi of Ndadi Law Firm confirmed that â€œHe (Masisi), during this period of State of Emergency, as passed by parliament, will have powers to rule by decree and disregard any law except for the constitution.â€Masisi borrowed from Section 17 of the Botswana constitution which gives a sitting president superior powers to declare a state of emergency at any time.
In addition he also referred to the Emergency Powers Act section 3 which essentially gives him authority and leeway to rule alone by diktat. Furthermore he will not need to call for parliament approval of the rules during the SoE during the aforementioned 6 month period. In terms of section 3 the President Masisi may: â€œa) make provision for the detention of persons or the restrictions of their movement, and for the deportations and exclusions from the Republic of persons who are not citizens of Botswana.
Masisi, under SoE, may also authorize the taking of possession or control on behalf of the Republic of any property or undertaking; the acquisition on behalf of the Republic of any property other than land and authorize the entering and search of any premises. In addition the section states that he can also provide for amending any enactment, for suspension of the operation of any enactment, and for applying any enactment with or without modification.
He may also â€œprovide for the apprehension, trial and punishment of persons offending against the regulations. Provided that nothing on this paragraph shall authorize the making of provision for the trial of persons by military courts.â€ â€œProvide for charging in respect of the grant or issue of any licence, permit, certificate or other document for the purposes of the regulations such fee as may be prescribed by or under the regulations,â€ the section states.
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.