Mmegi Blogs :: Extra-Parliamentary politics should intensify
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Last Updated
Friday 22 June 2018, 06:00 am.
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Extra-Parliamentary politics should intensify

Many Batswana have given up hope on their legislature in terms of its ability to legislate or formulate public policy for the order and good of the country. More Batswana are increasingly becoming hopeless that Parliament can hold the executive arm of government accountable.
By Dithapelo Keorapetse Fri 16 Sep 2016, 15:05 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: Extra-Parliamentary politics should intensify








The law making body, especially the 11th Parliament, has become an instrument of subjugation at the disposal of the ruling party. It is used to pass laws and policies that tyrannize the workers, students and other groups. The ruling elite, who are clearly against democracy, seek to render Parliament useless in exercising its constitutional and or democratic function.

When the executive fails the voters, Parliament cannot be relied upon to save the situation. Parliament cannot deal with the issue of state capture-unprecedented corruption at a grand scale, decline of education and health, unemployment, poverty and income and wealth inequalities and lack of access to services. It cannot deal with the economy which is in the hands of foreigners and naturalized citizens who will leave the moment the country goes deep down. In fact some of these pseudo citizens have bought their citizenship clandestinely by paying bribes in the form of sponsorships to the ruling party politicians’ intra-party and national election campaigns.

Recently Parliament passed the oppressive Trade Dispute Amendment Bill and will most certainly pass other repressive labour laws like the Public Service Act Amendment Bill. The legislature has passed an unconstitutional law, the Electoral Act Amendment Bill with clauses on the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), increase of money levied from public office candidates and abolishment of supplementary election voter registration. Laws which are passed by Parliament and are supposedly progressive, are in fact a joke if one scrutinizes them and subject them to more profound indices.

It is against this backdrop that extra-parliamentary politics should intensify. This refers to politicized activities that take place outside the precincts of traditional government or formal structures. The phrase extra-parliamentary uses the term “extra” to denote “beyond” and the word “parliamentary” as a substitute for government. Therefore, extra-parliamentary political activities happen outside the space of the government. Those involved in extra-parliamentary actions do not necessarily seek political office but seek to influence public policy decision making for the greater democratic good. These figures who pursue extra-parliamentary actions may seek to put pressure on the government or parliament to enact laws, rules and regulations and public policy decisions which are in line with good social change such as socio-economic development and democratization and may also back political parties or officials who support their positions on a variety of key issues.

So far, trade unions and to some extent student movements, most notably the University of Botswana (UB) students organized by the Student Representative Council, have engaged in meaningful extra-parliamentary activities. Trade unions have over the years pressured government to sign, ratify and domesticate various International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions and grant the right by civil servants to unionize and be able to engage in protected

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industrial actions. In the recent years, public sector unions, mainly, have challenged numerous government decisions and laws enacted by Parliament in court of law. They have organized seminars and other activities to sensitize Batswana on labour issues and other important matters. Botswana Mine Workers Union has also petitioned the Office of the President over the financial crisis or deficit, declining occupational health and safety standards at BCL mine and other incidental issues. 

Many civic organizations are now moribund, they seldom hold meaningful activities. However, new movements are emerging on the girl child’s rights and unemployment, among others. The Law Society of Botswana is awake from a long deep sleep. UB students have for many years been known to be active participants of Botswana’s democracy, never shy away from challenging the government on many issues. They’ve engaged in activities seeking to influence public policy. The unemployed youth movement recently staged protests outside parliament and the state responded with utter brutality. These efforts are commendable, albeit not enough. 

Extra-parliamentary activities should intensify because parliament has become useless in promoting democracy and good governance. These activities, should increase because democracy is under siege. Corruption, economic crime, mismanagement and unethical governance have become prominent features of the country’s political economy. Tenderpreneurs have ruling party politicians in their pay rolls. A neopatrimonial system exists where public offices are distributed as patronage; ruling primary and general elections losers are rewarded with positions in government in exchange for loyalty.

The education system is in a state of crisis; failure rates are high, access to tertiary institutions is becoming difficult because of lack of money to sponsor learners and graduates are roaming the streets, unemployed. Job loses rates are high and so is general unemployment and underemployment. The government is bereft of ideas on job creation. Economic Stimulus Program (ESP) is a big fraud. Agriculture has collapsed. The economy remains undiversified, in the hands of foreigners and naturalized citizens and foreign direct investment remains imperceptible. The country is collapsing at an alarming rate.

Opposition party leaders have on Monday addressed a press conference in which they launched a series of demonstrations against the collapsing education system, attempts by the ruling party to cheat through the EVMs, unemployment and the state media bias. They explained that they will be joined by other civil society groups. When opposition parties raise these genuine issues, they are often accused of politicizing things, whatever that means. This therefore calls for civil society to rise to the occasion and intensify extra-parliamentary activities to save the country because they don’t seek to be in parliament/councils or government. Before this country becomes a kleptocracy, a government by thieves for the thieves, something must be done.

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Fri 16 Sep 2016, 15:05 pm
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