Wednesday, August 10, 2022

‘Constitutional reform could trigger political chaos’ – Pilane

Advocate Sydney Pilane has warned that constitutional amendment, as demanded by the opposition parties, could result in political instability.

Speaking this week during the annual University of Botswana (UB) legal week event, Pilane said opposition parties are striving for reform, which can remove Ian Khama from his presidential position, but they have never discussed the matter with content.

“This could result in regrettable amendments,” he said.

Pilane, a member of the Botswana Movement for Democracy, said opposition parties’ arguments for constitutional reform are not properly grounded.

“I am a member of the opposition, but I have never seen value in the calls made by the opposition to reform the constitution. We politicians don’t want the current president, therefore (we) call for a reform to cater for the direct election of the president and cancel automatic succession of presidential position,” he said.

Pilane said, for their calls to be convincing, the opposition should not only give reasons for amendment but should also provide possible implications for the reform.

The advocate said the constitution is a document which should not be tampered with because it was made with great care. This calls for the opposition to exercise caution in their demands for constitutional reform.

“I am not against the debate to reform the constitution, but I am just cautioning the opposition to give the matter more thought and not just be anxious to deal with the situation they don’t like,” he noted.

Attorney General, Athalia Molokomme, added that politicians and other individuals who have declared their demands for constitutional amendment should be clear about their motives for constitutional review and be sure they want to reform for the right reasons.

“This is not just an issue of national interest, but is a premier issue of national importance, for it concerns source of fundamental human rights of individuals,” she said.

Commenting during the event, Botswana Congress Party Youth League President, Dithapelo Keorapetse, dismissed Pilane’s words that the opposition parties’ demands to overhaul the constitution are not properly grounded and target Khama. He said, as opposition parties, they are not only worried about presidential succession, indirect election of the president and unequal funding of political parties. Keorapetse indicated that they want constitutional reform to entrench the socio economic, civil and political rights.

Meanwhile, Botswana law society representative, Mabudu Mabudu, said the problem is not the constitution, but the manner in which the sitting judges interpret it. He lashed out at the judges, saying they are of poor quality and cannot evolve the interpretation of the constitution.

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