A senior member of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party has said the interpretation of the constitution by the High Court on Friday that the State President enjoys absolute immunity has effectively “conferred dictatorship” on both party and country.
“Maybe we had put too much faith in the judiciary,” he said.
The member said as per the Lobatse High Court judgment, “BDP members can elect a Central Committee only for the President to undermine it because he does not like it. When the Central Committee approaches the judiciary, they will be told that no recourse exists for them because the President enjoys total immunity. That is the long and short of it,” he said.
He was speaking after the High Court dismissed with costs an application by the suspended BDP Secretary General, Gomolemo Motswaledi, in which he sought to be reinstated as both the BDP secretary general and the party’s candidate for Gaborone Central.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the BDP member said after the judgment he feared there would be more reprisals and a witch-hunt.
Delivering the judgment, Chief Justice Julian Nganunu said the constitution of Botswana gave a sitting president immunity, prohibiting the starting or continuation of criminal proceedings against such a person.
“The prohibition is total since it covers all alleged criminal activities of a President, done officially or privately,” said Nganunu.
A BDP member who spoke to Sunday Standard said the effect of the judgment has been basically for the judiciary to wash its hands while at the same time installing Khama as the ultimate supreme leader who is not accountable for his action inside the BDP.
He said by saying they cannot in anyway review the President’s actions, what the judiciary had done was to formalise one-man rule.
“Effectively, what this judgment has done is to say Khama does not need a central committee to run the BDP. If there is to be a central committee, it has to be the one he has hand-picked or that which is made up of people who cannot dare question or challenge him.”
He questioned the efficacy of holding central committee elections when the BDP is now no longer a democratic institution.
“What is the point of holding such elections? We have conferred a dictatorship on a democratic institution,” he said.
“Subsequent to Kanye, Khama will henceforth decide who he wants to stand in the BDP central committee. If he doesn’t like you even if you are popularly voted in what it means is that you are meaningless because through his sub-committees you will be made to face up to trumped up charges. Even worse, the BDP disciplinary committee has become a kangaroo court,” said the distraught member.