Sunday, September 27, 2020

State accuses Boko of insulting former president

The case in which Leader of Opposition Duma Boko is challenging Speaker of the National Assembly Gladys Kokorwe’s decision to expunge his statement from the Parliament Hansard veered off into a fresh twist as the state accused him of insulting former President Ian Khama.

Duma Boko’s who doubles as BNF and UDC president dragged the Speaker of the National Assembly Gladys Kokorwe to court following her decision to expunge from the Hansard statements which concerns the diplomatic tension between Botswana and China on the South-China Seas dispute.

When arguing before Justice Radijeng of Gaborone High Court, State lawyer Matlhogonolo Phuthego said Boko insulted former President Khama and even abused Members of Parliament by using derogatory words against them.

According to court records, Boko was quoted in the Hansard as saying “Our President is like a demon propitiated only by human sacrifice, sacrifice in many aborted futures and thwarted ambitions of many of our young people. And his pursuit of futile causes that have nothing to do with the immediate concerns of our country is fuelled and fed only by the financial certainty with which his ministers advance countless falsehood in defence of his government”.

Phuthego said Boko’s statement contains falsehood, was unparliamentarily and cannot be allowed to be published on the Hansard because it is a public document which is accessed by the public and future generations.

He said the Hansard was not supposed to contain false statements like the one made by Boko.

Phuthego asked the court to dismiss Boko’s case and allow the National Assembly to remove his false statement from Hansard.

 He said all the procedure of the National assembly and using the Standing Orders allowed for the Speaker to choose like she did by allowing the debate to vote and allow the motion.

He said on the 26th February 2016, Boko lied before parliament that the Embassy of China was closed following Botswana’s criticism over the South China Sea.

He said immediately after Boko made his statement, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Venson Moitoi rebuffed his statement, followed by MP Moswaane, Minister Molale and almost all the Members who then asked Boko to provide proof of evidence.

Phuthego said it was on that basis that on the 7th July 2016, MP Moswaane brought a motion to expunge Boko’s statement from the Hansard.

He said Boko has never disputed that his statement was false but his contention was why his Statement was removed from Hansard.

Boko’s lawyer Mboki Chilisa said the decision taken by Speaker to expunge Boko’s statement from the Hansard was irrational and grossly unreasonable.

He said Kokorwe failed to protect Boko’s freedom of speech from majority of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members.

Chilisa said the Speaker failed to exercise her power to rule in favour or against the motion but rather allowed majority of parliament to debate and vote against the motion.

He argued that the Speaker was not supposed to subject the debate to a political vote but should have exercised her power using Standing Orders.

“The applicant’s (Duma Boko’s) case is that the Speaker unlawfully abdicated her legal and constitutional responsibility in permitting the National Assembly (BDP in majority) to dictate to her whether she ought to expunge the applicant official statement from the Hansard. And having allowed the National assembly to dictate her decision to her, the speaker then allowed motion adopted through a collection of voices directing her to expunge the China-South Sea statement.

He said it is clear that the Speaker acted contrary to Standing Orders or irrationally adding that such decision is unlawful and must be set aside.

Chilisa said the disputes as regards to the speaker after she abdicated her duties in terms of the constitution or the law, is a matter that was justifiably before court.

”A matter as whether MP’s freedom of expression has been infringed in the national Assembly and whether Standing Orders have been properly applied are all matters falling within the jurisdiction of the honourable court,” said Chilisa.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.