Mmegi Online :: In defence of the Republic
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Friday 21 September 2018, 15:09 pm.
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In defence of the Republic

The highest court in the land has ruled in the matter between the Attorney General and the ruling party versus the opposition.
By Mmegi Editor Wed 12 Nov 2014, 15:09 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: In defence of the Republic








And after another loss for the Attorney General and its Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) handlers, the matter has now passed into the court of public opinion – a diverse, changeable arena where hawks and doves, villains and heroes congregate.

In this arena and given the finalisation of the judgement, we too are able to exercise the right enshrined in Chapter II of the Constitution which protects the freedom of expression and holding opinions without interference.

In that vein, the recent cases involving the Attorney General and BDP against opposition parties and Parliament, must be read for what they intrinsically were – an attack on the legislature and by inference, an assault on the republic.

The same Constitution clearly, comprehensively and eloquently distinguishes between the various arms of government, assigning each their role in the protection of our republic and its development.

It has been argued that that the ruling party and the Attorney General had every legal right to seek clarification of the Constitution at the High Court and the Court of Appeal, in the event they are so inclined. That is not in question. What is, however, is the motivation behind their constitutional enquiries, particularly in light of the sequence of events leading up to Monday’s Court of Appeal decision.

Anyone following the case, no matter how casually, would have picked up the overpowering sense of ill-motive in the application, an attempt by a powerful entity to force or at least demonstrate its will over the Constitution. This was made clear when the ruling party, in its affidavit at the High Court,

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vowed to pursue the case to the Court of Appeal in the event that a favourable judgement was not received. This was evident in the scarcity at the High Court of ruling party legislators who ostensibly were being represented in the suit and were thus so offended as to seek even a five-panel bench of the Court of Appeal.

This was evident in the haste at which the ruling party filed its affidavits, the ultimatums it gave to Parliament and the opposition and the tone of the said affidavits, where one advised the respondents to “avoid confrontation”. Where some see the aftermath of this case as reinforcing the legislature’s independence, we have a different view. Parliament is financially beholden to the executive, from vehicles, certain staff to salaries. The executive has already demonstrated its power over the legislature by suspending it for more than a week.

Within the three arms of government, only the legislature is voted for by Batswana, while the executive and the judiciary are selected through the President’s discretion.

                                                   Today’s thought

“The basic premise of the Constitution was a separation of powers and a system of checks and balances because man was perceived as a fallen creature and would always yearn for more power.”

                                                        - Roy Moore

 

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