After the presentation of the No Confidence Motion by the Leader of Opposition Hon Dumelang Saleshando in parliament, I came across newspaper reports like ‘Morwaeng kills Saleshando’s no confidence Motion’ and ‘BDP chops up Saleshando’s no confidence motion’. I could not help but wonder: Was the Motion killed or chopped by responding to the points raised by Saleshando or was it the usual Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) demeanour of huffing and puffing or better still, skirting around fundamental issues raised in parliament that has characterised it particularly that as members of the public, we watch parliamentary proceedings live on television? I hold all the above to be the case. Someone who skirts around issues does not directly respond to them but finds convenient scapegoats. If the BDP had responded directly to all issues as raised by Saleshando on why he brought the Motion, it would have done itself a world of good by trashing his points with demonstrable conviction and purpose.
Instead of seizing the moment to redeem itself given the intense political and socio-economic pressure it is under, the BDP chose to ignore to rebut the five-point agenda for the Motion of No Confidence as presented by Saleshando. While the five-point agenda as thoroughly explained by Saleshando is nothing new in the body politic of this country, I believe it would have done a lot of good than bad for the BDP to have sharply and chronologically rebutted them as already said. The reason for failure to sharply rebut with conviction and courage is simple: the BDP neither has comprehensive, persuading nor believable answers to political and socio-economic challenges facing this Republic. What it has in absolute abundance is the propensity to protect its President in a manner consistent with cultism than demonstrably showing that as a party in government, it is able to respond objectively to issues thrown at it. If such answers were available, I am tempted to believe as I hereby do, that there would be no reason for the Motion.
To start the ball rolling, let me state without any fear of contradiction that the Constitution of this Republic provides under Section 92 under the heading ‘Vote of No Confidence in the Government’ that ‘If the National Assembly at any time passes a resolution supported by a majority of all the Members of the National Assembly who are entitled to vote declaring that it has no confidence in the Government of Botswana, Parliament shall stand dissolved on the fourth day following the day on which such resolution was passed, unless the President earlier resigns his or her office or dissolves Parliament.’ From the tone of BDP Members of Parliament, they were annoyed big time by the presentation of the Motion as if it is not provided for in the Constitution. In fact, Hon Molale described it as a mischief of some sort. He said ‘….This is a mischievous Motion’. Truth be told, BDP MPs led by Molale and others were themselves mischievous in that they were annoyed to debate a process perfectly provided for in the Constitution and to which they swore to uphold, defend and protect. But is well known they owe their allegiances more to the President than the Constitution.
The Minister in the Presidency Kabo Morwaeng whose office requires him to know and correctly appreciate the full meaning and importance of the Constitution in a Constitutional democracy since he has people around him to help him to do so, was so worked up to the extent of saying the Motion is ‘….Not only vague, trivial and vexatious but a waste of this Parliament’s time. This is because it is not proper to raise a Motion under Section 92 without a demonstration of exactly what is it that government has failed to do, which it is to be declared by Parliament that it has no confidence in….’(My underlining for emphasis). But Saleshando did just that in his presentation. Morwaeng went on to say and correctly so, that the BDP has been elected to govern for five years and that the Motion sought to collapse his government through some back door mischief. He conveniently chooses not to acknowledge the fact that the very Constitution he claims to uphold provides that if MPs resolve to ‘collapse’ government through a no confidence Motion as provided for in Section 92, that it will not only be perfectly lawful but constitutional as well. Each and every Section of the Constitution was and is included therein for a specific reason and purpose and without saying it, Section 92 is one of them. To therefore suggest discussing any provision of the Constitution is mischievous and a waste of time is shamelessly disrespectful to the framers of the Constitution and the Constitution itself. He must be told in no uncertain terms that while he was elected during the general election, his term can be brought to an abrupt end by a resolution of parliament as per Section 92 of the Constitution. Whether the Motion passes or not is neither here nor there. What is important is for any MP to bring it as and when they deem it fit to do so. Whether the other side of the aisle feels annoyed or not is not the baby of the mover.
The utterances of BDP MPs on this and other Motions neither surprise nor shock me because they border on the false narrative of entitlement, arrogance and complacency that without the BDP, the sky could fall and bury Botswana once and for all. They tend to forget that while they were elected by a popular vote of 52%, about 48% of the popular vote elected the combined opposition in parliament. In real vote numbers, the BDP got 406,561 while the combined opposition in parliament got 350,710. The difference between them is a paltry 55,851. The point I am making is that the opposition cannot be said to be mischievous and annoying when it demands accountability from the BDP through a No Confidence Motion amongst others. Only those under the false impression of entitlement, arrogance and complacency can say so.
Saleshando presented five points when moving the Motion. These are amongst others: that the President is failing to honour the oath of his office by failing to uphold, defend and protect the said Constitution; Masisi’s leadership characterised by corruption and bad governance; that the executive has infiltrated the judiciary. In all these said Saleshando, the President is so tainted that if the eye of the needle was the litmus test, he stood to fail the test. A litmus test in the political context is described by Wikipedia as ‘….a question asked of a potential candidate for high office, the answer to which would determine whether the nominating official would proceed with the appointment or nomination….’ Overall and on the basis of Saleshando’s assessment, the President must be stripped of his office because he is not a fit and proper person to occupy it.
But because there is nothing from BDP MPs to dispute this assessment as I have already said, they decided to embark on a flawed political posture meant to divert attention from the real issues raised in the Motion. I expected them to dispute Saleshando’s argument that the President is aiding and abetting corruption by showing what steps he has taken to decisively deal with it. The recent Auditor General’s report on Covid-19 corruption (for a period of 8 months) under the watch of the President and Morwaeng indicates just how endemic and deep-rooted it is. Nothing suggests it will become better any time soon. A lot of flagship and high profile cases meant to be the President’s legacy for dealing with corruption have, and continue to dismally collapse before courts. A special court headed by a judge to specifically deal with corruption cases has failed long before it could even sit. The Directorate of Public Prosecutions is a pale shadow of itself where its supporting institutions have the audacity of forging a Magistrate’s signature. Never in my mind have I ever thought the DPP could stoop so low to fabricate a case against a human being for political expediency. It is mindboggling if you asked me. The Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services has simply gone bonkers if I were to put it mildly. It is ferociously a militia arm of the powers that be. The BDP cannot defend the President on the foregoing because there is just no defence.
Whether the Motion could pass or not is not the issue for me. I have already concluded in my previous articles that given the healthy majority the BDP enjoys in parliament, there was no likelihood it could pass. But for BDP MPs led by no other than Morwaeng to be annoyed by the Motion to the point of saying it is vague, trivial and vexatious is to demonstrate the sheer lack of appreciation of the Constitution itself. As long as the Motion passes amongst others the procedural test, it cannot be described by the terms used by Morwaeng. In passing, he must be reminded that Jacob Zuma survived a no confidence Motion from some ANC MPs and some members of the opposition bloc in 2018 by resigning on the eve of the Motion. I hope he fully understands the import of the South African example. I am prepared to be persuaded otherwise as always. Judge for Yourself!
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