| November 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

GABORONE, Nov 10– The Botswana News Editor’s Forum says the country’s democracy will be at stake should President Ian Khama lose an appeal to change the rules of the parliament, adding that may call for a re-run of the elections in such an eventuality.

Parliament has failed to sit in the past two weeks after the general election as a result of protracted court battles over how the Speaker and Seputy Speaker of the House, and the vice-president should be elected.

Now that the court has ruled against President Seretse Khama Ian Khama, the forum says the worst might be the dissolution of Parliament by Khama in order to call for fresh elections.

The ruling Botswana Democratic Party, led by Khama and Attorney-General Dr Atalia Molokomme, want the Standing Orders of the House to be changed, and allow for the voting on these positions to be done through the show of hands, instead of a secret ballot.

The latter practice has been in use since 1999, when Khama himself was elected to the position of vice-president. The Botswana High Court ruled last week against the applicants. The Second Justice, Michael Leburu, said at that time that voting through a secret ballot would make it easy for parliamentarians to vote without fear of intimidation and coercion.

The ruling Botswana Democratic Party has appealed the ruling of the High Court. Its legal representative, Parks Tafa, said: “We have lodged an urgent appeal, with the Court of Appeal of the Republic of Botswana. The judgment around the standing orders was unconstitutional.

“It can’t bypass the Constitution and override it in the manner that it’s being done, because when there is a constitutional violation, that has to be given supremacy and otherwise this is where the country starts falling apart. We are working on an urgent application to have an appeal heard on an expedited basis.”

Botswana Editors’ Forum Chairman Spencer Mogapi said here Sunday: “Our fear is that, how will he respond. How will he take it if he loses? He has one option, that God forbid, he may resort to, which is to dissolve Parliament, and then call for fresh elections.”

Former president Festus Mogae once indicated that if he did not get his way, he would do the same and the forum fears that Khama may be tempted also to resort to that particular course of action.

“But I want to emphasise that for the first time we have a very high number of opposition members in parliament. The highest in the history of this country,” Mogapi noted.

A political analyst at the University of Botswana, Zebani Maundeni, said Khama had to ensure that the people of Botswana did not lose confidence in him. He said the president had to work with people elected to fill the contested positions.

International Law expert Professor Shadrack Gutto has warned that Khama risked being considered an autocratic leader, should he keep on side-lining those who did not agree with him. He said there would be lack of accountability, if Parliament failed to convene a sitting.

It appears this year’s elections became a game-changer for the political landscape in Botswana. The opposition parties now have 20 seats out of the 57 parliamentary seats.

The matter is now expected to be heard by the Supreme Court of Appeals this week.


Category: General

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