Sunday, May 29, 2022

Ntlo ya Dikgosi suspicious of local government minister’s new law

Some members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi (House of Chiefs) claim to have detected ulterior motives behind the Minister of Local Government’s envisaged new bill which, amongst other provisions, attempts to bar both elected and nominated councilors from floor crossing.

The ruling administration believes the new law would “enhance the effectiveness of the structure, organization, roles and responsibilities of local institutions at all levels in the country”.

Addressing Ntlo ya Dikgosi on Friday over the local government bill, Local government minister, Lebonaamang Mokalake, rubbed Ntlo ya Dikgosi the wrong way as his bill was seen as alienating and trampling over the world-known traditional norm of freedom of expression and association.

Kgosi Lampadi and Kgosi Tawana, of Okavango and Tawana region, argued the bill was denying the individuals of their fundamental right of joining the parties of their choice and preference.

“I develop some goose pimples on my skin over some measures this bill attempts to achieve and, in particular, the exempting of elected members of the council and nominated councilors from floor crossing as this overture would be tantamount to silencing them,” argued Kgosi Lampadi, adding that instead of coming with this bill, the government must initiate the review of the constitution.
The Okavango representative was adamant this impromptu transition would clash with the constitution and wondered what plausible reason the government would come up with in favour of this draconian law at such times.

Whilst acknowledging some provisions contained in the bill, Kgosi Moremi would also not take kindly to the barring of the councilors from choosing their political destiny whilst in office, saying the development was blatantly trampling on fundamental rights of freedom of expression and association.
“There are times when these politicians fall out with each other and the disgruntled individual calls it quits. Similarly the leadership would adopt to expel their colleague from the organization,” she reasoned.

The ruling Botswana Democratic Party has incurred a split resulting the exodus on several of its members of parliament and councilors.

Calls for the stoppage of floor crossing had been on the opposition lips for quite some time, with the ruling leadership, however, digging in its heels because it was, by then, the beneficiary of floor crossings. Besides barring both the elected and nominated councilors from floor crossing, Mokalake also highlighted additional circumstances under which a seat of a member of council shall become vacant.

Of particular reference is the vacating of a seat upon confirmation by medical board that a councilor is incapable of discharging his/her duties because of infirmity of mind or body.

Another new development under this provision is the filling of council member’s vacancy within 3 months after it occurs and the proposal not to fill the vacancy within 6 months closer to the next local government elections, which the minister argues “the current Acts are silent on all these matters”.

The discussion was in full swing at the time of going to press with indications, however, pointing to the adoption of the bill but with some changes as lobbied by the House.

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