Thursday, March 4, 2021

Opposition will not challenge Presidential powers over Ftown by-election

A parliamentary committee on subsidiary legislation chaired by Member of Parliament for Molepolole South, Daniel Kwelagobe, and consisting of MPs Rayner Makosha (Nata/Gweta), Kagiso Molatlhegi (Gaborone South), Taolo Habano (Ngami) and John Toto (Kgalagadi South) has given the green light to the proclamation made by Vice President Ponatshego Kedikilwe postponing the Francistown by-election to January.

The committee, whose mandate is to examine statutory instruments, has recommended to Parliament that there be no moving of a motion for the annulment of the proclamation as the president exercised his powers correctly.

The committee said, “the proclamation by virtue of the adjournment of the poll to a later date, extended and created greater opportunity for participation in the Francistown West parliamentary by- election by a greater number of our citizens, and to this extent, it extended the right to enjoy all important constitutional right to franchise, and universal suffrage by our people, an undoutable public interest consideration.”

The committee said it would be a real stretch of the imagination to interpret the issuance of the proclamation by Kedikilwe as arrogation of powers of Parliament.  

“The nature of the Executive Act undertaken by His Excellency the President by virtue of the issuance of the proclamation is the adjournment of a poll, a course of conduct expressly provided for in the provisions of section 46. In this regard the course of conduct is the one that is provided for and reasonably contemplated by the Electoral Act and does not constitute an unusual or unexpected use of powers conferred by the Act.”

Opposition parties had resolved to move a motion in Parliament annulling the proclamation but they have since somersaulted after they were advised by their lawyers that the move would be counterproductive if Parliament agreed to the motion as it would mean that there would be no election date and the president would be compelled to issue a new writ.

In an interview with The Telegraph, the leader of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Dumelang Saleshando, said the opposition has agreed not to challenge the proclamation in Parliament.

“We want the elections to proceed,” he said.

Saleshando however said that he noticed some questions in Parliament regarding the Francistown West petition that led to the postponement of the elections.

This comes after the BCP resolved to probe the authenticity of the petition after it emerged that names of dead people appeared in the petition.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper