Masisi disregards Dissent with his Approach to Constitutional Review

  • Proceeds to swear in commissioners
  • Opposition parties threaten legal action


President Mokgweetsi Masisi has effectively disregarded widespread dissent, including of the political opposition and civil society, with his approach to the country’s constitutional review and has gone ahead to swear-in members of the commissioners, The Botswana Gazette has established.
Following his appointment of a commission of enquiry into the constitutional review last December, the Alliance for Progressives (AP), the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) raised objections to what is almost universally regarded as a false start, especially regarding lack of consultation and inclusivity. They labelled the process partisan, exclusive, undemocratic and threatened legal action if the President did not dismiss the commissioners and start afresh.
But the commissioners, all 19 of them and five-member secretariat, were nevertheless sworn in before Christmas. It is chaired by former chief justice, Maruping Dibotelo.
In the aftermath, dissent remains. Yet Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) spokesman, Kagelelo Kentse, this week told The Botswana Gazette that President Masisi is not bothered by the complaints because he followed the constitution when appointing the commission.
“The President has approached the constitutional process as per the constitution and we are happy that the long-anticipated constitutional review process has started,” Kentse said in an interview. “We cannot delay the process just because opposition parties are raising complaints. There is nothing to worry about because the appointed team is inclusive. At any rate, the opposition complains about everything every time.”
Reached for comment, the Secretary General of the AP, Dr Phenyo Butale, said their lawyers have agreed with them that Masisi’s approach to the constitutional review can be legally interdicted. “Following the feedback from our lawyer, we are going to sit down as a party and decide whether to legally interdict the process or take it politically,” Butale said, adding that by appointing the commission alone, Masisi will set the scope of the review, which would also be wrong.
At the BCP, Secretary General Goretetse Kekgonegile said they are also considering litigation. “Masisi’s disregard and rejection of the advice of political parties, unions and civil society is an indication that the constitutional process is not inclusive,” Kekgonegile asserted. “After he proceeded with the process inspite of concerns raised, the BCP is considering taking the matter legally.”
Kekgonegile disclosed that his party has resolved to run parallel constitutional review by going around the country teaching Batswana what such a process entails.