There is a great deal of discontent in our Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) dominated parliament. The cup of discontent is overflowing; there is mutiny in the ranks. The Paulson Majaga motion calling for a referendum on the direct election of the President has sailed through against the express wishes of the executive.
It is one the opposition were just too happy to vote to pass. It validated their long held aversion to the current, sick dispensation where an overly powerful President is accountable to no one but himself. On the other hand, it is one the Cava faction would have been too happy to see dead. The Cava faction conceive the motion to be undermining the current president, which is nonsense. New Jerusalem are guilty of many things but differing with a head of state doesn’t amount to disrespect. In fact, it could well pass for credit to the incumbent that some semblance of freedom seems to have returned to the floor of Parliament. Some friends of mine say it’s a weakness on his part. I differ.
There was a time in the not so distant past when the BDP would not have countenanced mutiny in whatever form. In keeping with centuries old BDP tradition, Majaga had no right to come this far. The BDP traditionally punishes every look that threatens the Presidency with insult. Well, things have fallen apart. Perhaps, they have fallen in place. It is open season. I am told that a section of BDP MP’s have gone either purposefully truant or outright rogue. They prefer to stay away from parliamentary proceedings; perhaps out of disillusionment, perhaps out of spite. They are not coming back anyway. Their hour on the stage is over. They have suffered the sword of Damocles.
That they chose to stay away at such an important time is in itself telling. They couldn’t be bothered what the presidency thought or desired. Sources say the mover of the motion ignored phone calls from His Honour, The Vice President. I mean, a backbencher with funny headgear snubbed “The Vice President of the Republic of Botswana”. Fancy this; my good friend Busang Manewe thinks that it’s a criminal offence for me to miss his social calls.
So the motion sailed through. BDP MP’s could not be bothered to be there to defeat it as they have done for the past nine hundred and ninety nine years. In fact, some present voted for it, signaling fatigue with the present system; perhaps dislike for the President. For the opposition, they could not have asked for more. Me neither. Every Motswana deserves a President they have elected. Those who think otherwise must allow us to vote our own President. They can stay home. This rigged, undemocratic system must go.
The former President says that he called on those around him, and asked who they would
I don’t think that there could be a referendum before the 2019 elections. I do not suggest that there should be. It’s a bit late in the day. This is an important far reaching reform and must be approached with due sensitivity. In the end though, I hope for a day in my life when every aspiring Motswana will have a direct shot at the Presidency whether they wake up in a mansion or under the bridge. For that reason, I support the motion. It is long overdue. I cannot really understand why the VP and the Cava faction wanted to kill it. I am yet to hear a convincing argument why Batswana must have the presidency fixed for them by two or three people. We are not stupid. The late Rre RaGaone’’ reasons for the present method were, in my respectful view, very shallow. Just so we are clear, I believe RaGaone, with all his weaknesses, was the best we had. He was a chop of the true Tswana block. Yes, he had his own flaws. So had others.
His fears of possible disruptive tensions between parliament and the executive weren’t well founded. Such tension is both necessary and desirable in a democracy. It compels the executive to be continually on top of their game. It would kill any sense of entitlement and of impunity on their part. A friend says that it may lead to a situation such as in America where the legislature declines to approve a national budget and people go unpaid. My friend would rather a silly budget with a border wall provision sailed through unchecked. We need that tension in order that crazy ideas like buying Swedish Grippens while children are being transported to school on donkey carts in stinging winter don’t see the light of day. Coupled with a cabinet chosen outside parley, parliament can finally play its true watchdog role consistent with the constitutional separation of powers. We would never have a president who acts with impunity for no president would be assured of a mandate. Presidents would no longer be able to whip parliament into line. We can finally have true democracy. The people would own their President.