Had the mover of the motion calling for the amendment of the constitution provided some alternative proposals, specially elected Member of Parliament, Botsalo Ntuane, could have supported the latter part of the motion by opposition MP Akanyang Magama, which called for the abolishment of automatic succession to the presidency by the vice president.
Unlike his fellow BDP Members of Parliament, who contributed before him, Ntuane broke from the pack and castigated the current system as flawed and deficient.
“The automatic succession to the presidency by the vice president, whatever circumstances, has its own demerits and merits. One positive aspect is that the system promotes certainty and stability, which underpin national development agenda. On a negative note, the same system stifles ambitious ordinary MPs over ministers who are selected to a position of vice presidency. One cannot be appointed to a position of vice president without a ministerial post. Thus, the ambitious and intelligent ordinary MPs are overlooked in favour of ministers by virtue of their positions. The incumbent president also has the power to anoint his own successor, which is utterly not right. The system is thus flawed and deficient. Had the mover of the motion provided alternatives, I could have supported the last part of the motion that calls for the abolishment of automatic succession,” said Ntuane.
Magama recently requested government to amend Sections 32 and 35 of the constitution so as to ensure and provide for the direct election of the president by the electorate and abolish automatic succession to the presidency by the vice president on the death, resignation or ceasing to hold office by the president.
The maverick MP, who is eyeing the opposition strong-hold of Gaborone South-West constituency in the coming national general elections, maintained he subscribes to issues that call for fundamental national reforms.
“Botswana as a maturing and developing state is subject to introspections over issues affecting national institutions.”
Ntuane, a former BDP publicity secretary, further attacked his fellow party members for not walking with time.
“This notion of ‘if it is not broken do not fix it’ is not good for a maturing and developinag nation. This country should be seen to be up-holding fundamental national reforms. We should be pro-active, forward looking and precipitate positive reforms,” charged Ntuane.
Contributing to the debate last week, Foreign minister, Mompati Merafhe, and Education Minister Jacob Nkate ridiculed the motion arguing nothing compels the constitution to be changed.
“If it is not broken do not fix it,” the Foreign Affairs minister argued last Friday.
The Education Minister emphasized, “O ka seke wa roke borokgwe bo sa kgagoga.” (You can not mend a trouser which is not torn).
Ntuane emphasized the importance of national reforms at the same time agitating for party funding during campaigns.
The move, he said, would alleviate corruption amongst aspiring politicians whose palms are often greased purely because of lack of capital.
“Democracy is expensive and should be sustained financially. To avoid instances where there are utterances such as ‘scratch my back and I will scratch your back’, the government should consider funding political parties to avoid corruption.”
Ntuane argued there are financially healthy individuals out there who are ready to assist politicians in the hope that they would be assisted in one way or the other.
“It is tough, especially in our constituencies which are the strongholds of the opposition. I am, however, pleased the outgoing president promised to look into the matter. Maybe the incoming president will see it necessary to fund the parties.”
On the other part of the motion, Ntuane said he was unequivocally opposed to the direct election of the president. South Africa and other neighbour countries are reeling and wallowing in the state of uncertainty and instability because of the system, he said.
“The system will hamper national developments and implementation of projects. Imagine a situation where the president is elected by the people and yet has no MPs in parliament. The system will promote personality cults and demi-gods with the president doing as he wishes largely because he thinks everything revolves around the people who voted for him.”
Earlier in the contributions, Lobatse MP Nehemiah Modubule called for independent presidential candidates arguing that if the same is afforded to the councilors and parliamentarians why not the presidential seat.
He maintained the 1997 constitution was amended to fit the shoes of the ruling party. The party, he said, was reeling from intense and severe factionalism.
Modubule dismissed statements of uncertainty and instability as being due or caused by the constitutional change.
“A directly elected president respects the people for such president knows it is the people’s vote that determines his occupation.”
He said a directly elected president would have substantial and legitimate powers that substantiate his endorsement of capital punishment.
Modubule said he was uncomfortable with an unelected president who endorses the death penalty when he was not elected by the people.
“Such a status fits a directly elected president,” Modubule argued.