Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Kedikilwe calls for “plumbing” of Intelligence law

Member of Parliament for Mmadinare, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, has argued for the impeachment provision in the Security and Intelligence Bill currently before parliament.

Debating the Bill, Kedikilwe said it is one of the most important pieces of legislation, and said to mitigate against potential abuse, there should be incorporated a clause making it possible for parliament to impeach a sitting State President if it is established that the President abused the intelligence law.

Such a clause, argued Kedikilwe, should be part of the misdemeanours by State President warranting an impeachment as provided for in the constitution.

A former Senior Minister in the Office of State President, Kedikilwe argued that there is no guarantee that Botswana will continue to be as fortunate as she has been over the years where there has been no free reign in the abuse of legal instruments.

He went on to say that with the country progressing, the possible dangers of abuse are on the rise.

“We have been fortunate in the past and it is evident that we are likely to be fortunate in the foreseeable future. But there can be no guarantee that we shall continue to be as fortunate as we have been. Therefore we must have in-built mechanisms.

I would be so radical as to say the provision for possible abuse should be in-built provisions of the constitution,” said Kedikilwe.

Still emphasizing the gravity and seriousness of the piece of legislation before parliament, Kedikilwe said it invoked “balance.”

“We ought to be progressing gradually to achieve balance… we cannot take too long before we have this piece of legislation. But, at the same time, we cannot afford to be too quick so as to leave too many loopholes unplumbed.”

He called for a Select Committee of Parliament to do the plumbing of the Bill as to close all the loopholes that give rise to potential cases of abuse.

The veteran Member of Parliament said he took the Bill and the provision he was calling for so seriously that “unless someone else has moved in before, I would like to move at the appropriate time for such a Select Committee.”

In principle, he said he supported the piece of legislation, but said it’s important that it’s not rushed through hastily as to allow for abuse in the end.

“Whatever we want to achieve by way of development, it will be derailed deliberately, it will be debauched accordingly, it will be destroyed accordingly, and, therefore, we must be on guard. It is important that we do that,” said Kedikilwe.

He said while there is already the National Security Act in place, the old legislation is not sufficient enough to deal with recent world menaces that the new legislation envisages to tackle.

But he said what is at stake are issues pertaining to oversight, “specifically questions relating to the appointment of the Director and what inbuilt mechanisms can be put in place after benchmarking.”

Speaking about such provisions as contained in the Bill as search without warrants, Kedikilwe told parliament that it is important to safeguard the interests of the individual and the republic.

He called for meaningful involvement of this parliament, adding that it is of cardinal importance that the legislature has a say in the administering of the legislation to ensure it achieves the objective that it was intended to achieve.

“It cannot be a free run for the Executive.”
On other issues, he said the operatives of the law be trained on both the mechanics of data collection as on ethics.

“They must be put themselves in the shoes of those that run the state and say if I was abused by an operative in the manner that I am abusing this other man or this other woman how would I feel?”
He said the operatives must understand the meaning of a Republic, what it stands for and such other concepts as polity and democracy.

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Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.