6 March 2019

Botswana: Parley Adopts Majaga's Motion On Direct Election of President

The outspoken Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) back bencher Paulsen Majaga seems to have rubbed senior members of his party the wrong way after tabling a motion calling for Constitution amendment to allow for the direct election of the president and appointment of ministers outside Parliament.

The Nata-Gweta MP, who did not mince words when tabling the motion, faced the executive's opposition to his calls.

His party's chief whip Liakat Kablay, who on several occasions interfered on Majaga's presentation, had rebuked Majaga for not tabling the motion at the party caucus first.

But Majaga insisted that he was acting against the party's Constitution, adding that the motion was very lame.

The Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Nonofho Molefhi opposed the motion on grounds that adopting it will threaten to peace and tranquility in the country.

Molefhi said he suspects that Majaga's motion was targeting the incumbent president Mokgweetsi Masisi.

Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, who is also the head of Parliament business, said he had privately cautioned Majaga against the motion with no success.

Tsogwane's move to delay debate on the motion by seeking adjournment to allow more consultation failed when he was outvoted 6-16.

Majaga had insisted that he tabled the motion aware that it might not have received support at the BDP caucus.

He said the motion seeks an amendment of the Constitution to replace the current system where the President is elected indirectly by the Parliament.

He argued the current system is not true reflection of democracy but a setback with the president ending up having too much power because of being voted indirectly. This he said has led to abuse of power.

Meanwhile, other legislators supported Majaga's motion tremendously.

The Leader of Opposition Advocate Duma Boko said there is need for constitutional amendment, to allow clear separation of powers.

He said the amendment of the constitution will result with strong independent oversight institutions such as the office of the Ombudsman and Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), which are currently suppressed by executive.

Shoshong MP Philip Makgalemele broke ranks with some of his BDP legislators, saying that he was in full support of Majaga's motion, which he described as a progressive and well formulated.

"The constitutional amendment motion is a good move. I support his motion because it is progressive and the whole constitution must be reviewed. It's long overdue," he said, receiving praises from Boko who he said Makgalemele made a comprehensive debate as compared to his other colleagues.

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