That Motswaledi’s ambitions to contest for a parliamentary seat have been thwarted by his party and the country’s flawed constitution is common knowledge amongst the citizens.
People from across the political divide sympathised with Motswaledi during his court case. What started as a case between Motswaledi, his party and its president soon became a national matter. This was so because Batswana had realized the outcome of Motswaledi’s conundrum would extend far beyond Motswaledi.
Motswaledi put our constitution to the test by refusing to adhere to the notion “the king is the law” and in the end people got the true interpretation of the constitution, more significantly section 41.
Had he played a coward and backed off with the first whistle, we would definitely still be unaware that not all citizens are equal in this country. Thanks to the litmus test on our constitution carried out by Motswaledi through his court case against the president, we now know we are not equal before the law: Protection of freedom of expression, Protection of freedom of conscience, Protection from inhuman treatment, Enforcement of protective provisions and Derogation from fundamental rights and freedoms. All the above mentioned, despite being encompassed in the Constitution of Botswana, are at the behest of one person, the president.
I strongly feel we need people of Motswaledi’s caliber and integrity in our parliament. Our parliament has to be filled with people who can, in Botsalo Ntunae’s words, articulate the interests, concerns and aspirations of the citizenry without fear or favour.
Such people can be found in the likes of Gomolemo Motswaledi, Dumelang Saleshando, Wynter Mmolotsi, Moremi Tawana and Ntuane himself. Regardless of the outcome of his disciplinary hearing at the BDP, if all members of the incoming parliament believe Motswaledi can add value to the enhancement of our democracy, it is then up to them to ensure that their belief and wish are realized.
Though the constitution does not constrain the selection of specially elected members to the ruling party associates only, it has always been the norm that specially elected members are always from the ruling party.
Unbeknown to many, the selection of specially elected members involves not only the president but extends to all the 57 members of parliament regardless of their party affiliation.
Members do vote in the process. A lot of people, like I said, are in total agreement that it was unfair to bang the parliamentary door on Motswaledi’s face the way it happened. Infact, if the nation had its way, Motswaledi would still be in the race. Now that we have been told it is not for the nation but the president to choose who can and who cannot stand for elections, the nation’s hopes and expectations have been shattered. The nation needs some solace.
The nation needs some shoulder to lean on. The nation, by standing in long queues on the 16th of October, will be crossing those ballot papers as a plea to candidates to go out there and salvage their lost hopes. One way of restoring these evaporated hopes is to ensure, despite the odds, that even though one man, the president, rejected Motswaledi, the nation through it’s parliamentary representatives, can still have him in parliament. At this point some people must be thinking I deserve to be booked at Sabrana Psychiatric hospital in Lobatse.
They probably think it’s impossible for Motswaledi to make it to parliament through special election because they think, again, this is the sole prerogative of the president, who afterall has already shown his disapproval of Motswaledi.
I have gone through section 58(2) (b), SCHEDULE TO THE CONSTITUION, ELECTION OF SPECIALLY ELECTED MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY and this is what aroused my hopes of having an honourable Gomolemo Motswaledi in this coming parliament. I will highlight some of the most important observations from this section which proves that all the 57 members of parliament have the numerical advantage to have specially elected members of their choice even where they differ with the president’s choice.
For further clarification on this piece of law, the incoming members are lucky because they will find the legal firebrand in Lizo Ncgoncgo at their disposal. At the time of writing this I trusted my memory to the effect that he is the parliamentary counsel.
And I can add he is a good one. This section which can secure Motswaledi a parliamentary seat, provided the majority of MP’s, from across the political divide, buy into my proposal, reads in part,
“4 (1) The president shall nominate four candidates for election in the case of a general election and he shall nominate one candidate for election in the case of a by-election.
(2) The names of the four candidates or, as the case may be, the name of the one candidate nominated for election by the President under the foregoing subparagraph shall be presented to the National Assembly in such manner as may be prescribed, and any Elected Member of the Assembly (other than the president if he is an elected member) shall thereupon be entitled to nominate four candidates for election in the case of general election and one candidate for election in the case of a by-election.
(3)A list of the candidates nominated for election by the President and the Elected Members of the National Assembly under the foregoing provisions of this paragraph shall be prepared, and each Elected Member of the Assembly shall been titled to vote- (a) in the case of a general election, for four candidates: and (b )in the case of a by-election, for one candidate, on the list so constituted.(4)the vote of every elected member of the national assembly shall be given by ballot in such a manner as not to disclose how he has voted.”
Legal experts will break this legal jargon down for us, but I am convinced it can work to bring a member of parliament’s choice into the fold.
In any case, should my proposal work out, people of Gaborone Central constituency would have killed two birds with one stone in that both their outstanding candidates would have made it into the national assembly.
I know some of them had been caught between a rock and hard place when it came to choosing between Motswaledi and Dumelang Saleshando because of their equal political strength.
I understood their predicament because not only are the two tall in stature but have all proved to be sterling performers when it comes to national service.