One of the first things that President Khama pronounced immediately after his inauguration was to extend an olive branch to the Leader of Opposition in parliament, Duma Boko, expressing his wishes for cooperation with him and his team.
For some, Boko was too quick to accept Khama’s gestures for cooperation. For this group, they would never rush into believing Khama’s words because he never matches his words with actions. One of them says, “I clearly read his lips and he didn’t mean what he said.”
The other group urges Boko to trust Khama and soldier along with him for the remaining years of his term: Of course with trepidation, they caution. And the question is; why would Khama all of a sudden choose to work closely with the Leader of Opposition?
In the past, he has ignored anyone who occupied that position-at times placing severe sanctions upon them. In fact, he was very content when the opposition failed to agree on who should ascend to that position when the two parties had equal numbers in Parliament.
For that period of time there was no noise from a figure labelled Leader of Opposition. The agreement to share time on that platform fell apart because of the parliamentary defections within the three opposition political parties in BMD, BCP and BNF.
In the past week, even before the ink could dry on any journalist’s notepad who took notes during the inaugural speech, Khama pulled a deliberate carte-blanche on Boko by denying the Opposition the opportunity to nominate their own choice of councillors. In the best terms, that would give the full picture: one would say Khama splashed acid on Boko’s face.
It shows right from the beginning that Khama’s government is not dealing honourably with the opposition. From here on, the Opposition must deal with the ruling party with great trepidation but must avoid a stalemate. In a situation of a stalemate, it is the electorates who suffer the most.
Honourable Sedirwa Kgoroba, Mogoditshane MP, recently posted something on his Facebook page regarding the issue of special nominations for council. He was expressing his surprise at the manner in which these special nominations were done. He quotes Khama when he said he was looking forward to working together with the Opposition.
Kgoroba expresses his displeasure in the way nominations were done. Being an MP, he had been requested to make submissions to the District Commissioner’s office, which would finally reach the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development.
Kgoroba was disappointed because none of his candidates were considered and the same verdict befell the rest of the Opposition ranks.
I still maintain my displeasure in getting civil servants, such as the District Commissioner into dealing with political appointments. We all know that the final decisions are made at Tsholetsa House after committing the list to an intelligence sieve.
We need to start questioning this procedure of appointments, as many have done in the past. It has become very clear, as it has been in the past, that the BDP has created this procedure of nominations for their own benefit. It needs to be repealed forthright because it is being abused beyond measure.
This brings to question the manner in which we as country conduct many other appointments in government. One that comes to mind immediately is that of specially elected MPs which also serve to increase the numbers of members of the ruling party.
The question of executive powers always arises in any democratic setting. The issue in America right now hangs around what the president can decide in terms of changing immigration laws without going through congress.
Obama can invoke executive powers on certain issues and hence bypass congress. Because American democracy
In Botswana, those in power use their executive powers without looking back at what the public view might be. And this is where the immaturity lies in our democracy.
It is common practice that every democratic leader is endowed with certain executive powers, but they must use such with great caution. The President must be left with the authority to appoint or disappoint any one person to any position like cabinet, parliament or council.
But the powers must not be excessive. Executive powers are important and must not be eliminated in any democratic setting. A case-in-point is found in the history of the US. President Abraham Lincoln invoked executive orders to outlaw the practice of slavery and by that action, freeing the slaves from appalling living conditions.
He arrived at this decision because both lower and upper houses of congress were vacillating and oscillating on this crucial matter and he had to act decisively.
In Botswana, all appointments rest on the wishes of the President, and this is where democracy becomes questionable. The tenure of Ian Khama as President brings into light the expediency with which we as a nation need to revise our constitution with the ultimate aim of curtailing the President’s executive powers. We need a well-written Constitution that protects us from every possible eventuality and particularly from executive powers.
But the BDP is guilty of a more sinister misdemeanour. They have deliberately clouded the decision making capacity of the Delimitation Commission which was headed by a high court judge.
For the first time in the history of independent Botswana, the work of a Delimitation Commission only resulted in the realignment of constituencies rather than the creation of new ones. This was a grand strategy by the BDP.
The realigning of constituencies resulted in giving more council wards to rural constituencies and less to urban ones. The logic here is that the BDP should benefit from getting more council votes in the rural constituencies to increase their scope of controlling district councils.
In urban areas, they created fewer council wards because urban populations are generally inclined to voting opposition candidates. Because they hold the leverage of selecting their own extra councillors, they use this nomination system to neutralise urban councils.
This is a well-thought out strategy. The more councillors you have, the more scope of control you will have and the more relatives and friends you can patronise at the taxpayers’ expense.
In certain areas, some council wards were offloaded from one constituency to another. This was meant to favour certain favourite candidates. For instance, Tsolamosese ward was offloaded from Mogoditshane to Gabane-Mmankgodi constituency in anticipation that a certain prefared ex-BDF Colonel would win the primary election.
This ward was key in getting Patrick Masimolole to Parliament in 2009 and it was the most promising, even in these past elections. Masimolole concentrated his efforts on this particular ward because of its peculiar problems.
The biggest issues here emanate from land. The biggest build-up of squatters in Botswana is found here.
President Khama has in the past used the carrot and the stick method in this ward to lure voters through the Presidential Pardon scheme on those who violated land acquiring procedures and ended up as squatters.
Looking at the current margins in the Mogoditshane Parliamentary polls, Masimolole would have come second if Tsolamosese had remained under Mogoditshane constituency.