UDC Calls For Withdrawal Of Constitutional Review Bill

Date:

The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has said it strongly opposes the current process of reviewing the Constitution of Botswana, and has called for the withdrawal of the Constitutional amendment Bill.

Debating the Constitution Amendment Bill No 4 of 2024 on Monday, the Leader of Opposition Dithapelo Keorapetse indicated that they vehemently oppose the current process of the constitutional review, highlighting that they will at the end of second reading move in accordance with standing order 75.

He said they will propose that the bill be committed to a special select committee on the review of the constitution with all parties represented to file submissions of Batswana about the bill and advice parliament to the way forward.

Keorapetse was of the view that the bill is a fraudulent document which he says encapsulates narrow views of the executive, instead of the people, adding that it is an emotive legislative proposal aimed at among others former President Ian Khama. 

He highlighted that the government is not prepared to listen to anyone, saying their only objective is to tick the box of a promise delivered going to the 2024 general elections. He emphasised that the government’s only objective is to tell Batswana that they have delivered on their promise to review the constitution of Botswana, while leaving Batswana behind in the process.  

“A constitutional review is the most important Democratic project of our time, if done properly it can put us back on a path to democratisation away from regression and fast track us into democratic consolidation. However, UDC will not accept a situation where the ruling party and the President monopolise the process and choreograph it to their satisfaction,” Keorapetse said. 

Keorapetse emphasised that UDC’s view is that the commencement of the process was a false start, highlighting that it should have begun with an extensive public education for a better understanding of the constitution by Batswana.

On Monday Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organization (BOCONGO) addressed the General Assembly on the amendment of the constitution Amendment Bill. It has also issued a petition which was drawn from BOCONGO member’s views and submissions towards the Civil Society Policy Brief on the Constitution review.

The petition which is currently circulating has expressed significant concerns regarding the Constitutional Review process citing that it has not been open, inclusive, and transparent. The petition regarded that as a disappointment over the lack of a people-centered approach despite initial assurances from government officials. 

The petition demands an amendment of section 87(6) and 89(2) to make provisions for public participation and consultation processes throughout the constitutional review process. It further advocates for the amendment of Section 89 to provide for a people-driven process, thereby guaranteeing the right of citizens to actively participate in the formulation and amendment of constitutional provisions.

Presenting Bill in parliament for its second reading, Minister for State President Kabo Morwaeng stated that the review intended to amend Botswana Constitution following approval by government as well as recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry. 

He indicated that the amendment sought to protect and prohibit the discrimination intersex persons and persons with disabilities. He further noted that a proposed amendment to introduce measures to ensure that a retired President who had served an aggregate period of 10 years was not eligible for election in any political office.

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