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Strong institutions are the real saviour

The silly season has gone into overtime.

The never-ending whirlwind of scandal, allegations and near hysteria that characterised the pre-election campaign period has spilt over at a time when many would have expected post-election stillness.

In the week since the nation returned from the polls, Batswana have been thrown back on the unmerry-go-round with news of missing billions, suspected electoral fraud, simmering political tensions at the highest levels and many more.

With the odour of politics heavily over most of the contentious developments in the country at the moment, it is critical that constitutional institutions stand strong and independent to support the Republic.

The judiciary especially needs to prepare itself for a test as losing candidates of the general election appear headed that way with complex complaints. In the next few weeks, a groundbreaking appeal of the entire election results is possible, judging by the comments coming out of the main opposition coalition.

For all the criticism it has endured over the years, particularly around the issue of executive-minded judges, the judiciary in general has been a constitutional bastion in the country and it needs to stand strong if the expected questions are asked of it in the near future.

Another institution, the Independent Electoral Commission will be key in restoring public faith and confidence in the electoral system, whether or not challenges appear in the judiciary. Whether or not it is called upon by judicial challenges, the electoral agency needs to help post-election

stability by releasing detailed data on the trends and patterns of the recent elections, allowing Batswana to judge for themselves.

On another level, the Bank of Botswana will also have to work hard to restore public confidence in its ability to carry out its constitutional mandate. In the face of allegations that billions of Pula have walked out from the BoB unescorted into private bank accounts, it is essential that the central bank stands firm and independent as high level protagonists, some of them political, do battle.

As for the incoming political leadership, the defence of the Republic, its stability, growth and prosperity should remain supreme, a vocation that starts with a commitment to upholding the institutional pillars available in the constitution.

As Africa shows, disrespecting or violating constitutional institutions is a hallmark shared by all bad political leaders. President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s planned constitutional reform would do well to include the strengthening of key institutions and the building of greater distance between such instruments and the Executive.

A start could be to ensure that the heads of the IEC, BoB and other institutions key to the Republic’s stability and prosperity, are appointed by parliamentary committee rather than the presidency.

Political leaders will always come and go. Political willpower will always ebb and flow. Institutions, however, will be the refuge for Batswana.

Today's thought

"Men may die, but the fabrics of free institutions remains unshaken."

-Chester A. Authur





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