Saturday, April 4, 2020

“Parliament is superior to cabinet” ÔÇô David Magang

Former senior cabinet minister, David Magang, has differed with Attorney General Athaliah Molokomme that three branches of government ÔÇô executive, legislature and the judiciary are equal.

In her recent public statement, the Attorney General said the three arms are equal.

This came about after parliament passed a motion calling on cabinet to call off negotiations for the privatization of Air Botswana.

The Attorney General, who is cabinet’s principal legal advisor said by so doing parliament was overstepping its mandate and effectively encroaching into the sphere of cabinet.
Parliament had to confine itself to its sphere, she said.

But in an interview with The Sunday Standard, Magang said conventionally and especially in Botswana, parliament is superior.

A lawyer by training, and one of the first Batswana to qualify as such, Magang said this is so because not only do they “make and unmake laws,” in Botswana parliament includes ordinary members of parliament, cabinet ministers, the Vice President and the President.

In Botswana all of the cabinet ministers are MPs, said Magang.

He said in Botswana the President, who is head of cabinet, is actually a member of parliament. Magang said in Botswana it is parliament that gives cabinet instructions, not the other way round. “In Botswana, the President is a Member of Parliament who can take part in the deliberations if he wants to. Presidents do not do that as convention, but Seretse Khama used to do it,” said Magang.

He said the court’s function is largely confined to ensuring that the laws passed by parliament are in compliance with the constitution. Magang said government would be out of order if they were to go beyond or against the instruction given them by parliament through the Privatisation Policy of 2000.
“We are a parliamentary democracy, and as such parliament is supreme,” said Magang.

“In Botswana the situation is such that if the courts make a ruling or decision which parliament does not like, they [parliament] can re-make the law to state explicitly what they want or had intended,” said the former Member of Parliament for Lentsweletau.

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