Saturday, May 8, 2021

Are you sure the constitution doesn’t give Khama power to regulate the weather?

It has happened yet again. Our Courts of law still insist the president’ decisions are not challengeable.I don’t have to remind you about the judgment in the infamous Motswaledi/Khama case where the High Court ruled in Khama’s favour after he had unceremoniously expelled Motswaledi from the BDP. After the Motswaledi case, our courts of law continued to be inundated with cases where presidential powers were being challenged. In most of the cases, our High Court judges even refused to get into the merits of the cases because as far as they are concerned, the constitution is unambiguous when it comes to presidential powers. His powers are absolute and out of bounds to scrutiny. The Law Society of Botswana joined forces with one of the arguably best legal hawks in the country to challenge President Khama’s unwarranted refusal to appoint Motumise to the bench despite having been flashed with the green light by the Judicial Services Commission, a credible organ that knows what a perfect judge looks like. The High Court has, as has become the norm, ruled that Khama was well within his constitutional powers to stick out the middle finger at Motumise without the courtesy to atleast whisper to him as to why he was not deserving of Lordship. Honestly, it would not completely shock me were it to be revealed the constitution of this country gives the president authority to fiddle with atmospheric conditions of the weather and climate. The constitution of our country has vested so much power on the president God must be watching with green envy. We have here a constitution that allows just one man to decide the fate of millions of people without accounting to anyone.

 

The president makes the final call on who deserves a date with the hangman. He holds the key to death and life. The president is at liberty to pardon convicted murderers without offering any justification for his actions. The president has the power to block from entry, or kick out of the country, any foreigner he may harbor some dislike for. The president has the power to hire and fire judicial officers. It is the President’s prerogative to appoint cabinet ministers, police and army generals. In fact, all top positions in government and parastatals are filled at the behest of the president. The president has the power to reward his allies with diplomatic posts. The president has the power to declare war against other countries. The president has the power enforce his pet projects into the national development plan. The president has the power to authorize expenditure under Presidential directives, without consulting parliament. The president has the power to declare, up to what time the nation can stay up drinking and how much they must pay for their alcohol. The above-mentioned powers do not make even a third of the powers enjoyed by the president of our republic. Now with all those powers, are you still saying I’m crazy to think it is worth checking if our constitution does not give the president Godly powers to regulate atmospheric conditions? I understand though, the crafters of our constitution had good intentions when they swamped the president with all those powers. I mean, surely they knew there was no how our country could ever be cursed with a crazy leader who follows the wording of the constitution to the letter without tempering it with principle and rationality. I am not in any way suggesting our president could be crazy. All I’m pointing out here is, it is crazy to always do things, including those that are detrimental to your people, and on the basis the constitution authorizes you to do so. Who would have ever thought we would one day end up with a president who flagrantly abuses and violates the constitution so willy-nilly? The problem with our constitution at the moment is compounded further by a leadership that is full of authoritarian tendencies that are full of arrogance. Their sheer disregard for humility and compassion are not helping the situation. They are always out to prove who is boss.

 

They make out for their insecurities through what borders on oppression and vengeance. I always tell people that the 2011 nationwide industrial strike (dubbed the mother of all strikes in Botswana) could have been averted had cool heads prevailed on the part of our government leadership. Batswana are naturally peaceful people who can allow you to trample upon their rights provided you smile while at it. Public servants embarked on that strike not necessarily because government was refusing to increase their salaries but more significantly because of the attitude that was employed by the State President and his lieutenants. Instead of calmly telling public servants that it was fiscally impossible to increase their salaries, the president made them look unreasonable, unpatriotic and even stupid to raise such demands. The current regime wants everyone to view labor organizations as State enemies instead of fostering a working relationship and embracing these organizations as a conduit between the worker and the employee. I am always taken aback by those who suggest unions should stay out politics. I mean, there is no how you can talk about the welfare of public servants without involving politics. The plight of workers rests on politicians. The rules and regulations that guide the workers are all borne from political decisions. I also find it absurd for people to accuse the unions for leaning more towards opposition parties when the reality is; the two speak the same language. Unions are advocating for better working conditions and this is exactly what the opposition is calling for. Why then should it be wrong when the two come together to amplify their voice as they sing from the same hymn book? It is so sad how new democracies such as South Africa and Namibia have zoomed past us when we were supposed to be their role models.

 

A fw weeks ago President Zuma had to go back on his cabinet appointments because the nation was complaining. Zuma, just like Khama,enjoys constitutional prerogative to appoint cabinet ministers without consulting anyone or even backing down on his decisions due to pressure from anyone. But guess what, Zuma decided to put aside that constitutional power and go with the voices of his people. Zuma had appointed a certain David van Rooyen as Finance Minister. The appointment was met with an uproar of disapproval from all corners of South Africa. Instead of proving he was the boss and had the final word, Zuma has listened to his people and has replaced van Rooyen with Pravin Gordhan who seems to have higher approval rating among South Africans. This is far from what we have come accustomed to here in Botswana. In our country, it is even risky to question presidential decisions and directives. The president here is never questioned even by those who have considerable latitude to do so. BDP MPs, who one would have hoped would be the ones to assist their party president with ideas, have elected to become lame ducks who nod in agreement to every of his decisions. We still remember how BDP MPs never wanted Eric Molale to be brought back to parliament through the back door that is special nomination but they just endorsed him because Khama had ordered them to do so. They couldn’t elect otherwise even in the privacy guaranteed by the secret ballot dispensation. At the rate things are going, it is only a matter of time before the president orders them not to share beds with their spouses and they will gladly oblige without him having to be in their bedrooms to confirm their adherence.

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