Kgosi Kgafela II of Bakgatla this week launched a scathing attack on politicians, saying they are fraudsters who should be kept away from the constitutional making process.
Speaking during a public lecture on constitutional review at University of Botswana, Kgafela said that the constitution needs to have popular appeal if it is to enjoy legitimacy.
He said politicians could not be trusted and argued that the recent defections from the BMD to the BDP were a clear example of why politicians cannot be expected to deliver a people centred constitution. He said most of them were not consistent because they criticised Khama only for them to turn back and rejoin the BDP.
He indicated that such people cannot be entrusted with the responsibility of amending the constitution.
“They are full of lies and deceit. Some are ruthlessly corrupting the government…how can people who rejoice in hanging fellow countrymen be entrusted with delivering a new constitution,” he said.
Kgafela warned that if the current constitution is retained, Botswana could be thrown into serious political strife.
“Should politicians be given an opportunity to reform the constitution without the input of the society, this country will never manage to make a constitution which addresses needs of the citizens,” he noted.
The once acclaimed human rights lawyer said that as it is Zambia is struggling with constitutional amendment after entrusting politicians with the responsibility of constitutional review.
“The same situation could happen to this country,” he warned.
Kgafela said that former President Quett Masire claimed he conducted close to 150 consultative meetings before the constitution was adopted adding that no such meetings were held.
“Such a process never happened. The department of archives and records failed to show consultation minutes for the process that Masire said happened,” he said. “We cannot be ruled by a law which is forced into us. It is against the international laws such as common law of consensus, which dictates that people should be ruled by an agreed constitution,” he said.
Through its office, Bakgatla Tribal Authority is distributing to the entire nation forms which are meant to collect citizens’ opinion about the current constitution. He said the response is promising and he was confident that this would help him to win the battle for the constitution to be overhauled. Kgafela added that he expected to present the feedback to the High Court in his constitutional challenge case.
UB Political Science lecturer, Professor Zibane Maundeni, said there are challenges constituting new dangers, which can collapse this country if the constitution is not reviewed.
“Botswana is facing a crisis. New democratic constitutions have been emerging and this country remained old,” he said.
Meanwhile, Attorney General, Dr Athalia Molokomme, has made it clear that she will defend the current constitution against Kgafela’s challenge. She also indicated that she will continue to advise government honestly on the matter.
“We are in the process of preparing an affidavit to defend the constitution and confident that we will be successful,” she said.