Batswana condemn Dibotelo Commission

Daniel Chida

Posterity will judge the commissioners harshly- Moseki

Recommendations by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Review of the constitution of Botswana (Dibotelo Commission) have been made available to the public through a report. However the report has been met with a serious backlash as many expressed shock and dismay at its contents. The Voice staffer, DANIEL CHIDA engages different people to get their views.

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Moeti Mohwasa-UDC’ S Head of Communications

Allow us to start off by stating that we do not agree with the fiasco that is the BDP government instituted constitutional review. One will be pardoned to mistake this for a Report from a commission at a BDP conference.

It is embarrassingly conservative and in a number of instances makes barbaric and archaic recommendations some of which infringe on civil liberties. It ring fences BDP interests and in an attempt to save face meekly tweaks the current constitutional dispensation.

Characteristic and consistent with the BDP attitude, it fails to address the common concerns of our people.

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As the UDC we warned when this process ensued that it will yield little or no fundamental changes as it started on a wrong premise. It was flawed for the President to use the Commission of Enquiry Act to undertake the process.

All actors in society should have had a say on the members of the Task Team and the Terms of Reference. The approach adopted by President Masisi, who also heads the BDP, gave him more leverage and power over the whole exercise.

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The process of reviewing a constitution does not belong to one person, not even the state or the President, but to all. The final version of the constitution should carry our aspirations as a People. The Report of the commission as it stands does not.

Some actors in society would have been attracted to and free to contribute to a process that is not state dominated. Therefore a lot of thoughts and ideas have been left out of this process. Government should know that it is an actor in society just like all the others and that a constitutional review is not meant to serve the interests of the party that is in power.

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Otherwise we will have a constitutional review everytime there is a change of government, which will be bad for any country. To us this sectarian and partisan exercise was a total waste of taxpayers’ money. With such a huge budget the commission has not achieved much. It has instead divided the nation. We lost an opportunity to strengthen our constitution and bring our people together. Our people are getting more and more divided under the current regime.

Batswana condemn Dibotelo Commission
LEADER OF OPPOSITION: Dithapelo Keorapetse

Solly Da Sol- Political Analyst

A review of the constitution is a very sensitive matter that deserves to be taken very serious. It is important that the wishes of the people take centre stage in a constitutional review process so that whatever comes out of the whole process enjoy public trust and legitimacy.

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However from what I have observed so far is that there are some recommendations made by the Commission which do not sit well with many people who feel some of the recommendations are not in synch with the socio-economic and political aspirations of the people.

For example the commission not supporting the counting of ballots boxes at polling stations, direct election of the president and others. The fear from some certain section of the society is that the recommendations from the commission might end up superseding the contribution made by the masses on how they want the constitution to be like. With such a situation some people may feel the recommendations are more based on the interests of the few but not the aspirations of the people.

Cathrine Sepora- BPF’s League Chairperson

I believe that the commission would have been independent if it was established by Parliament but instead Masisi made appointments for the same commission that would later report back to him.

It would be also at his discretion to either approve or reject the recommendations. A public legal document cannot be held at ransom by one person who is conflicted.

Masisi is way too powerful and correctly so ,it is the constitution itself that grants him such. I was expecting a lot on what Batswana raised such as direct election of president and selection of cabinet ministers from outside elected members but we see the opposite of what was said.

MPs should not have two portfolios, as MPs and Ministers at the same time. Some issues are targeting the Khama family our children who were born to foreign parents. The issue of chiefs being barred from politics is also targeting the Khama family.

The changing traditional Tribal names is not fighting tribalism but destroying peoples heritage and pride. The nation has to suffer collateral damage because the President and his task team is seeking to erase the Khamas from history.

The changing of Sir Seretse Khama Day to Heroes Day is so unnecessary. I find the recommendations so dividing and causing unnecessary confusion. If indeed the constitution needs to be amended, it should be done progressively not taking Botswana backwards. I opine that Batswana reject the commission report through referendum.

Dithapelo Keorapetse- Leader of Opposition

The extent to which the report is flawed, unscholarly, unreasonable, misleading and inaccurate makes it extremely unreliable to even consider it a guide for constitutional review.

The problem started with the law on Commission of Equities law. It gives all the power to the President to appoint a commission and bestows him with authority to appoint the Chairman and Commissioners and decide whether it sits in public or camera, he decides its duration, terms of reference, its budget and can stop it at anytime.

He decides on whether its report is made public or not. Traditionally, he decides on what aspects of the report can be used or ignored. So this law has provided an evil opportunity for the President to choreograph things through commissions to formulate public policy and cause enactment of laws on the pretext that a commission has advised.

It’s a lie, the President effectively advises himself. The Constitution actually states he can ignore advice. The report is a big joke which must be thrown away. It lacks legitimacy as it has ignored the views of the people and instead adopted a sycophantically attitude. The Commissioners are people who listened and observed the President and his government and made recommendations to suit his agenda.

No constitution can be reviewed and developed using this report as reference. The conservativeness, primitivism and lackadaisical attitude towards democratization is evident in the report. It must therefore be contemptuously rejected as resource wasting scam by Masisi.

Batswana condemn Dibotelo Commission
LAWYER: Morgan Moseki

Morgan Moseki- Lawyer

Judges, politicians, academics including the entire crew that formed the presidential commission are part of what is called nation builders. Educated men and women must show leadership. Posterity will judge the commissioners harshly. However, in my view there was a grand plan to conclude things the way the commission did.

That is why the president elected not to consult other political leaders about it. Some of the recommendations if passed by law are highly likely to be challenged in court especially the one barring children born of a citizen and a former non citizen from seeking political office including the presidency.

If President Sir Ketumile Masire’s late wife was a foreigner his children would automatically be barred from standing. Whilst society is marching forward the commissioners chose to undo all past attempts to make Botswana great, a disservice to our society and the global community. The British have a Prime Minister of Indian stock whose parents were born outside British isle.

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