Following a decision by the Court of Appeal, effectively dismissing applications by government and ruling party lawyers to declare as unconstitutional some of the Parliamentary Standing Orders┬á that determine the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly as well as the endorsement of Vice President, Government has released a short statement saying they respect the ruling of the Courts.
“The Government of Botswana has noted today’s decision by the Court of Appeal upholding the earlier ruling of the High Court that the Parliamentary Standing Orders governing the election of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the endorsement of the Vice President are constitutional…. Now that the country’s highest Court has made its ruling, Government accepts┬á that the matter has been resolved and wishes to assure the public that it will┬á respect and fully implement the decision of the court. This is in keeping with the Botswana Government commitment to the rule of law and a recognition that the Government of Botswana at all times derives its authority from the supreme law of the land, the Constitution.”
That is fair enough and indeed commendable.
But did the nation have to go through all the mess of the last three weeks?
As always, Botswana Government likes to claim a moral high ground even when it is evidently clear that it does not deserve the same.
Once again our government, which prides itself with an abiding commitment to the rule of law failed to read the mood of the people which has consistently held that what the government was trying to do amounted to playing mind games with the nation.
What started as an internal dispute within the ruling party was allowed to┬áassume the coatings of national importance.
We had imagined that following a General election that so comprehensively sent a message to the ruling party to change its ways, the powers that be would take heed.
From their behaviour over the last three weeks, they so clearly have not listened and as a result have not heard.
What this government which now turns around to say its law abiding is a disgrace.
In fact the courts saw as much.
It is unfortunate that at a time when many countries are opening up the governance structures and making institutions more transparent and accountable, we are taking a different route by seeking to reduce the powers of┬á such bodies like Parliament and insisting that they should be subservient to the executive.
In our view the applications were from the beginning to the end shrouded by inconsistencies that smacked of bad faith.
We are very happy that our Courts were able to see through the mischief, chicanery and charades.
What our leaders did amount to emotional abuse of the nation by those in power.
What has been happening over the last few weeks will reduce this country into a laughing stock.
We live in an era where there is intense competition for such things like Foreign Direct Investment.
Yet we saw the government reducing the country to all that is by definition a banana republic.
Which serious investor would want to come and settle in a country that following a General Election would spend three weeks squabbling at the courts over whether or not a Speaker or Vice President can be appointed through a secret ballot or the show of hands?