Monday, September 21, 2020

BCP seeking legal advice on automatic succession

The opposition Botswana Congress Party has approached a firm of lawyers to advise the party on a legal opinion surrounding Presidential Automatic succession.

This follows an admission by government lawyers that there was a drafting mistake during the change of the constitution to allow for automatic succession.

Since before Ian Khama succeeded Mogae as President, an increasing opinion including inside the ruling BDP has been gaining ground that the constitution as crafted does not allow for automatic succession.

The argument goes that the President should be voted for by Members of Parliament.

The argument goes further that without such a vote, the President would only occupy the Office of President in a caretaker capacity, without substantive powers to dissolve parliament.

Member of Parliament for Lobatse, Nehemiah Modubule, had attempted to get the issue debated in parliament before parliament could endorse the Vice President.

Modubule’s suggestions were shot down by Parliamentary Legal Advisor, Lizo Ngcongco.

“I still hold the opinion that parliament should vote the President just as it votes the Vice President,” said Modubule this week.

But writing in The Sunday Standard this week, a former government lawyer who was Special Advisor to the President, Sidney Pilane, argues that while there has been a drafting mistake, such mistake is inconsequential in view of the Interpretation Act and also in view of the intentions Parliament had when they amended the law.

This is in direct contrast to a view held by another prominent lawyer, Dick Bayford, who argues that until the President is voted for by Parliament he will not have the substantive powers.
This week the BCP Publicity Secretary Dumelang Saleshando confirmed that his party had approached an independent firm of lawyers for advice.
“We will make our position known,” he said.

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.