“We are against the ensuing state capture cloaked under ‘addressing operational requirements’ of the security sector.”- Keorapetse
BCP MP and spokesperson Dithapelo Keorapetse says his party wants presidential powers in relation to armed forces to be reduced and for parliamentary oversight over armed forces, defense and security to be strengthened.
Section 48 (1) of the constitution gives the president supreme command of the armed forces and also makes him the Commander. In subsection 2 (a), the president is given power to act alone in determining the operational use of the BDF without parliament consent. It is these clauses Keorapetse says must be reviewed to give parliament a say.
“The president must be compelled to ask the legislature to declare the state of war or grant him permission to deploy the armed forces externally and internally,” he said, arguing that this is because it is parliament that has fund to the military including for wars.
He also called for the review of Section 48 (2)(b) which gives the president power to appoint, promote or dismiss members of the BDF as it was open to abuse. “An outstanding exercise of the appointment powers of the President was set by President Seretse Khama when he appointed his eldest son, Ian Khama, then aged only 24, as a brigadier and Deputy Commander of the BDF at its inception in April 1977,” he pointed out, adding that Seretse appointed his son prejudicing more experienced PMU officers notwithstanding the fact that he had no more than 4 years paramilitary experience.
He said the use of the word “may” instead of “shall” in subsection 3, “diminishes the legislature’s powers of oversight.” He also cited Section 8 of the BDF Act who lack of functional clarity he says has been decried by analysts: “The president as the Commander in Chief appoints members of the council and the Commander is an ex officio member,” he said.
He also said reasons for appointing a BDP parliament representative in the Defense Council remain a myth. “It is our considered view that the same principle applied on the Chairmanship of the PAC should be applied when appointing an MP member of Defence Council,” he said.
In fact, Keorapetse’s assertions that parliament exercises little oversight over the BDF are stated in similar revelations by Wikileaks. “Indeed, the President is not required to consult parliament at all regarding deployment of the BDF outside Botswana’s borders and, in fact, he did not do so prior to the 1998 mission to Lesotho,” a leaked cable reads in part, adding, “The President — who is chosen by the majority party in the National Assembly rather than by popular election — holds exceptional personal control over the military.”