Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Botswana Constitution; what’s next?

When judgment on Gomolemo Motswaledi’s appeal was passed, I was in Botswana and I am writing this letter in Botswana having heard judgment on Radio Botswana’s 13.00hrs news bulletin and have read the Sunday Standard front-page article headlined “Appeals court upholds presidential immunity” (4 October).

On Friday, 2 October, I had read submissions by Motswaledi’s lawyer in the Daily News and thought Motswaledi was going to win the case because his lawyers’ submissions were valid. It was not to be. Five foreign judges of the Appeals Court ruled in favour of President Ian Khama Seretse Khama.

It is instructive to note that the learned judges said they were not going to rewrite Botswana’s constitution nor express an opinion as to whether the suspension of Motswaledi was justified or as to the merits of the dispute in other respects. From this statement one can extrapolate that the judges were of the opinion that the suspension was unjustified and had no merit and that the country’s constitution needs amending. They just interpreted Botswana’s constitution.

This constitution, a fossilised relic of British colonialism has been there since 1966 and those who it is working against now such as Daniel Kwelagobe lived with it comfortably and without any problem. Now that it is being used against them, it is now that they realise its unconstitutionality. It has been unconstitutional from its inception and at the advent of democracy in Botswana.

I wish the late Phillip Matante and Dr Kenneth Koma, whom Kwelagobe disrespected so much, were alive today to witness what has befallen him.
The partisanship of African politics is going to create many problems. Matante and Koma foresaw the perils of BDP rule and warned against it.

But because they were not members of the ruling BDP they were scorned by the likes of Kwelagobe and made objects of their derision. Now the chickens have come home to roost and they (Matante and Koma) are no more.

What did the likes of Kwelagobe do when Mxolisi “Ace” Mgxashe was deported from Botswana for having reported as Botswana Guardian journalist about the pathetic way the Botswana government handled the 14 June 1985 SADF raid in Gaborone in which foreign nationals and some Batswana were killed? They didn’t raise a finger.

What did the likes of Kwelagobe do when Professor Kenneth Good, who had lectured at the University of Botswana, was expelled about four years ago for having decried undemocratic tendencies within the BDP and the country at large? They didn’t raise a finger.

Instead former President Festus Mogae said on the BBC’s Nightline programme that Professor Good was a rogue and a vagabond and was not a gentleman. He said he was prepared to keep him out of Botswana for good. I am sure Mogae and his fellow travelers in the BDP are regretting. But it is too late. South African voters will soon experience what Batswana are experiencing by stupidly voting for the ANC and in two months later protesting against the same party they have put in power.

Sam Ditshego, Kagiso, South Africa.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.