- Fear losing their seats
- BPF says they will table the motion nevertheless
- Constitution does not provide for impeachment of President
MPs of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party linked with the controversial motion of no confidence in President Mokgweetsi Masisi have reportedly withdrawn their support for the move that could remove Masisi from office, The Botswana Gazette established.
This change of heart is said to have been inspired by a recent presentation on the legal framework of oversight by the Attorney Generals Chambers. The Deputy Attorney General responsible for legislative drafting, Naledi Moroka, confirmed that the virtual gathering was held two weeks ago at the instance of MPs keen to understand the process of impeaching a sitting president.
According to Moroka, her presentation made it clear that the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana does not cater for impeachment on a sitting president. Instead, in the Botswana system, Parliament may decide to pass a motion of no confidence in the government and not in the president.
If such a motion passed, this would come with the serious consequences of dissolving both the cabinet but also the entire parliament, including the mover of the motion. Moroka says this is stipulated under Sections 90 to 92 of the constitution.
“It is clear now that whoever brings and supports the motion would have to be very brave and ready to face the consequences. Everyone will look at their personal situation,” BDP Member of Parliament who preferred anonymity told The Botswana Gazette this week.
The MP pointed out after the consequences sank in at the presentation, his BDP colleagues who were initially in support of the motion beat a retreat. “Everyone will look at their personal situation before everything else,” said the MP.
BDP Chief Whip Liakat Kably told this publication that he had been worried that some MPs did not really understand what supporting the motion meant. “We hear that the opposition wants to bring back the motion,” Kably said. “I wonder if they have read and understood what the constitution really says. We keep hearing about these BDP MPs who support the opposition. Some bash the government on social media but never bring any of their concerns to the party caucus.”
He warned that supporting the motion would spell the end of political careers for MPs. “Even if they do it by secret ballot, we will know them as we did the Ministers and MPs who sabotaged the Masama project. We will then identify them as true enemies of the BDP.”
Former President Ian Khama’s Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) released a statement last week clearly stating its intention to table a motion of no confidence in Masisi’s administration. Khama has also been quoted by several media saying a number of BDP MPs are unhappy with Masisi’s leadership.
Some of the MPs are reported to be considering ditching the ruling party for the BPF. “The BDP rigged elections and that means they are an illegitimate government,” said BPF president Biggie Butale. “So having to dissolve Parliament and a re-election would still be a good idea.”
For his part, the Leader of the Opposition, Dumelang Saleshando, said he was “very aware” of what the constitution states in the event of a motion of no confidence in the government passing by a majority of MPs. However, Saleshando added that the BPF was yet to engage the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) for support.