Sunday, November 1, 2020

Cabinet, Parliament face legal battle

The controversy over Air Botswana privatization branched off into a new row last week when committee of Parliament asked the Speaker of the National Assembly, Patrick Balopi, to take the Attorney General to court to get legal clarification on whether parliament motions are binding on the executive or not.

The House’s Assurances Committee is chaired by Botswana Congress Party MP, Dumelang Saleshando, and has, among its members, the deputy speaker, Gladys Kokorwe.

The debate over the relationship between Parliament and Cabinet is reported to have degenerated to cloak and dagger intrigues, and the government enclave is secretly lobbying ruling Botswana Democratic Party MPs to oust Saleshando from the chairmanship.

The Committee’s recommendation that Balopi should approach the courts to assert the National Assembly’s authority emanates from a motion by Francistown legislator, Khumo Maoto, which called on government to halt the privatization of Air Botswana.

Following Maoto’s motion which was adopted by Parliament, Attorney General Athaliah Molokomme brushed it aside saying such motions were not binding on the cabinet.

Faced with a recalcitrant executive, the BCP resolved to go to court to halt Air Botswana privatization.

The decision by Saleshando’s BCP to go to court is now being used to push a case of conflict of interest against the Member of Parliament.
This was after Saleshando and his committee summoned Attorney General, government economic advisor, Nico Czypionka, and the Minister responsible for Air Botswana, Lesego Motsumi, to seek clarification on what was going on behind the scenes.

The situation is not helped by the fact that one of Attorney General Molokomme’s charges, Lizo Ngcongco, who has been appointed Parliamentary Legal Counsel, rendered advice to the Speaker which contradicts that of the Attorney General.

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