LOO CALLS FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION ON CONSTITUTION

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LOO CALLS FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION ON CONSTITUTION
LOO CALLS FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION ON CONSTITUTION

Lorato Gaofise

Africa-Press – Botswana. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has opposed the current process of Constitutional review, advocating instead for comprehensive public education and awareness about the Constitution of Botswana.

Debating the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2024, Leader of Opposition, Mr Dithapelo Keorapetse, who is also Selebi Phikwe West MP, argued that the Constitution was a social contract between the people and the state, outlining the terms upon which they agreed to live and submit to legitimate political authority.

“There can never be a Constitution, not written by the people themselves and there can never be a review of the Constitution by a few, with the people only playing a minimal participation in the process,” Mr Keorapetse said.

He spoke against what he said were attempts to conduct a Constitution review without extensive public participation, arguing that the people should have a central role in the process.

Expressing concern over the lack of legitimacy in Botswana’s Constitution, Mr Keorapetse highlighted objections to the Commissions of Inquiry Act, which he argued consolidated the President’s power. He expressed reservations about provisions that he said granted the President sole authority over commission appointments, proceedings, report dissemination, characterising it as a means for executive dominance.

Mr Keorapetse also critiqued the proposed amendments in the Bill, noting that while it enshrined certain socio-economic rights, it failed to impose corresponding obligations on government for their realisation.

He highlighted the absence of critical rights such as environmental, child, cultural, and language rights, as well as the right to citizenship, nationality, and access to information.

To that effect, Mr Keorapetse said the UDC’s proposal was to refer the Bill to a Special Select Committee on the Review of the Constitution, ensuring representation from all political parties to gather submissions from Batswana and advise Parliament on the way forward.

He criticised the Bill’s focus and urged for a more inclusive and democratic approach to Constitutional review.

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