Unions cast doubt on Constitutional Review staring in December

  • Accuse Masisi of lacking commitment
  • Cite failure to revive All-Party Conference as another concern


The Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) and the Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) have expressed scepticism over President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s commitment to the date that he identified for commencement of Botswana’s constitutional review.
In his State of National Address (SONA) on Monday in Parliament this week, the President said the process would begin by mid-December this year. While a constitutional review was among the Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) election pledges in 2019, it has been deferred for several reasons, the latest the outbreak of COVID-19.
“The envisaged constitutional review is a delicate and intricate process that requires careful reflection and consideration before it is embarked upon,” Masisi said on Monday. “The process of constitutional review has been delayed largely by the outbreak of COVID-19. In this regard, I will appoint commissioners to lead the process by mid-December this year.”
But the two labour federations say it is not the first time that the President has indicated a date for the constitutional review to begin. “For this to happen, the issue has to go to Parliament for discussion and endorsement,” said the president of BOFEPUSU, Johannes Tshukudu, in an interview.
“Mind you, in a previous SONA Masisi promised that the process would commence in the first quarter of 2021. Curiously. When we requested a meeting with him, he directed us to the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng, prompting more doubt about his commitment.”
Tshukudu asserted that there is incredulity about the President’s commitment to the constitutional review because Masisi has also failed to revive the All-Party Conference (APC) after promising that he would. “If he had revived it, the APC would have given him the platform to engage other political parties on the review and to take their input,” Tshukudu pointed out.
Similarly, the Secretary General of BFTU, Thusang Butale, says to blame COVID-19 for the delay in beginning the constitutional review is disturbing. “In the last SONA, Masisi promised that the constitutional review would commence in the first quarter of 2021, but nothing happened,” Butale said in an interview.
He added that BFTU does not see the process commencing because December is a busy time of the year.