Estranged Botswana Democratic Party Secretary General and Member of Parliament for Kanye, Kentse Rrammidi, this week revealed how Botswana has evolved from a government of the people by the people for the people, to a government of president Ian Khama, by Ian Khama for Ian Khama.
Rrammidi detailed how Khama has consolidated his power and built up a strong executive that has “rendered parliament irrelevant.” The Member of Parliament explained how the executive under President Lt Gen Ian Khama has amassed authoritarian power and forced parliament to part with its rights as an independent legislature.
“You might as well dissolve parliament. The current structure of parliament is such that for the next three years it is going to be rendered irrelevant by the executive,” he said.
Rrammidi says MPs can no longer think independently and have to take their cue from the executive.
“The executive has 24 ministers and assistant ministers while the BDP only has 14 backbenchers. Once Cabinet has taken a decision, it is then put to a vote at a party caucus,” he explained.
Rrammidi says these structural changes have resulted in a weak parliament that cannot resist a powerful executive.
Indications are that at the centre of it all is an attempt to shore up the president’s power and silence dissent. Rrammidi explained how, for the first time in the history of the BDP, the recent national congress and national council passed resolutions binding party members to support the president. The party structures resolved that “Cabinet, MPs and councilors must be seen to be supporting the president. The BDP is handling its leadership with kid gloves.”
Rrammidi explained that this is a far cry from the BDP under former president Mogae.
“Then the BDP used to come down so hard on the president, to the extent that they challenged him to step down if he was having difficulties leading the party.”
Rrammidi further detailed how Khama has stifled debate in the party central committee.
“During Mogae’s time, a proposal would be circulated around all members before Mogae stated his position. Khama on the other hand would state his position before the central committee has debated an issue.”
He said the situation is not helped by a weak central committee that cannot challenge the president. Rrammidi explained how all these factors have encroached on the due process of parliament business.
“I blame it on the BDP; I do not blame it on an individual.
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