Otlhogile blasts Dibotelo report

Bame Piet
UNDER SCRUTINY: Maruping Dibotelo

“Some clauses aimed at Khama and Dow”

Former Vice Chancellor of the University of Botswana (UB) Professor Bojosi Otlhogile has punched holes in the Constitutional Review report by Justice Maruping Dibotelo.

Otlhogile says the report by the Dibotelo Commission is marred with a lot of flaws, and that despite concerns that the current Constitution already gives the President too much power, the proposed Amendment Bill seems to be advocating for more Presidential powers.

Speaking at the University of Botswana Public Lecture organized by the Evangelical Fellowship of Botswana (EFB) on Tuesday evening, he said there is a lot of evidence to prove that the nation did not appreciate what the exercise was about, and what was required from them.

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He said the Commissioners failed to interrogate the concerns raised during the Kgotla meetings and to apply their professional experience to dissect them and submit some of them to the relevant authorities, before taking the issues to Government and drafting a Bill.

“Yes our process had flaws and defects both in terms of the composition, appointment, procedures, methodology as well as structure. The greatest problem that I have seen was the structure of the report itself,” said Otlhogile.

The Professor of Law said while this was a Constitutional Review, there were equally important issues raised by Batswana which should’ve been communicated to government.

He said one such issues was the renaming of constituencies, which arose at the same time the Delimitation Commission was conducting public consultations.

“Nonetheless, the Dibotelo recorded and made recommendations on the subject,” he said.

Professor Otlhogile also aired his misgivings about some of the clauses which seems to be targeting certain individuals such as Dr Unity Dow who was Specially Elected MP and resigned from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party to become independent before joining Botswana Congress Party.

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Another example, he said, is what he called the “Khama Clause” which bars former Presidents from active participation in politics.

“The intention of the clauses are to fix the recent problems that were never anticipated,” charged Otlholgile.

He also raised concern about a clause looking to increase Specially Elected MPs from six to 10.

This he said means, those in slight majority will immediately become the majority should the bill pass before the October elections.

“The proposed clause that calls for replacement of the Judicial Service Commission with Judicial Council threatens the country’s democracy, judicial independence, and accountability,” he said.

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Professor Otlhogile however said he doubts the Bill will pass into a law before the October General elections.

“The processes that have to be followed before a Constitution can be amended have got many layers that have to be complied with to make the amendment legitimate,” said Otlhogile.

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