Opposition denounces constitutional review report


Various opposition political parties have condemned some of the findings, recommendations and the entire processes of the presidential commission of inquiry into the review of the constitution.

Following the release of the commission's report, the opposition feels that the process was flawed, done without consultations and meant to favour the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

The recommendations which cover a lot from direct election of the president to proposed tribal territories names have attracted a lot of criticism especially from opposition political parties and other stakeholders.

In an interview, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa said they do not agree with ‘the fiasco that is the BDP government instituted constitutional review’.

Mohwasa added that one would be pardoned to mistake this for a report from a commission at a Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) conference. “It is embarrassingly conservative and in a number of instances makes barbaric and archaic recommendations some of which infringe on civil liberties. It ring fences BDP interests and in an attempt to save face meekly tweaks the current constitutional dispensation,” he added.

Mohwasa also said the commission was characteristic and consistent with the BDP attitude with the latter failing to address the common concerns of our people. “As the UDC we warned when this process ensued that it would yield little or no fundamental changes as it started on a wrong premise. It was flawed for the President to use the Commission of Enquiry Act to undertake the process. All actors in society should have had a say on the members of the Task Team and the Terms of Reference,” he highlighted. Mohwasa said the approach adopted by President Masisi, who also heads the BDP, gave him more leverage and power over the whole exercise.

He pointed out that the process of reviewing a constitution does not belong to anyone, not even the state or the President, but to all. “The final version of the constitution should carry our aspirations as a People.

Some actors in society would have been attracted to and free to contribute to a process that is not state dominate. Therefore a lot of thoughts and ideas have been cut out of this process. The BDP government should know that it is an actor in society just like all the others and that a constitutional review is not meant to serve the interests of the party that is in power,” he said.

Mohwasa said otherwise as the UDC they would have a constitutional review every time there is a change of government, which would be bad for any country. He said to them this was a total waste of taxpayers' money as it was a sectarian and partisan exercise. “Very little has been achieved for the nation. We lost an opportunity to strengthen our constitution”, he stated.

For her part, Botswana Congress Party spokesperson Dr Mpho Pheko said the BCP maintains that since the process adopted by President Masisi was flawed, the report must be rejected as the integrity of the whole process and the outcome (i.e., the report) were compromised.

“We did caution that the approach used by President Masisi is a unilateral process as it was done without any consultation whatsoever with key stakeholders such as Parliament, Botswana Council of Churches, the Leader of Opposition, the House of Chiefs, the Law society, Organised Labour and Civil Society to mention but a few,” she highlighted.

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