Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) and Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) will hold a forum with different stakeholders where they will engage in the federations’ constitutional review position paper.
In their position paper, the two federations outline the process that should be followed for constitutional review and areas of the Constitution that need to be amended for a mature and functional democracy. As such, the labour movements have organised a symposium on constitutional review to be held on September 25, 2021, aimed to discuss and initiate a debate that would eventually lead to constitutional reforms for nurturing and improvement of the country’s democracy.
The symposium scheduled for Cresta Hotel in Gaborone will be held under the theme ‘shaping a new republic through constitutional review for functional democracy’. Among those invited to the symposium include representatives of political parties, academia, media, unions and the broader civic society. BOFEPUSU deputy secretary-general Ketlhalefile Motshegwa indicated that this is an important and historical process they are undertaking in contributing to the development of democracy. “Our idea of a symposium is to have the civic society dialogue on this important national matter and aspirations of the people during this process of constitutional review,” Motshegwa said.
For a long time now, calls for a constitutional review have become more audible, but there have been debates about the extent to which the country’s Constitution enshrines democratic principles.
For many years academics, lawyers, opposition political parties, the media and other ordinary Batswana have been bemoaning many things provided for by the Constitution, one of them being the powers of the presidency. Many have called for the review to align the Constitution to international democratic standards that will allow the diverse people of Botswana a chance to meaningfully participate in the development of their economy. During the 2019 General Election campaigns, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) pledged in its party manifesto that plans are underway to revise the Constitution as demanded. However, President Mokgweetsi Masisi has recently come under fire from both the trade unions and the opposition for delaying a comprehensive review of the Constitution and rather adopting a piecemeal approach.
Last year, Parliament passed into law seeking to ban Members of Parliament (MP) and local government from essentially switching parties (floor-crossing). The move was criticised by opposition MPs who argued that government has now reneged from its promises to carry a comprehensive review but now doing a piecemeal approach for the benefit of the ruling party.