Two years after the 2019 general elections, President Mokgweetsi Masisi is yet to begin the process of a promised constitutional review.
This week, the Assistant Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Dumezweni Mthimkhulu, expressed government’s misgivings about the matter, albeit perhaps inadvertently.
Speaking in a virtual workshop organised by the Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO), Mthimkhulu emphasised the government’s commitment to its pledge of a constitutional review but went on to express what came across as misgivings. “Like in any other country in the world, national leaders are very influential in setting the tone for public discourse,” he said.
“It is therefore not surprising that after President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s repeated expressions of a desire for a constitutional review, as well as pronouncement of the same in the BDP 2019 General Elections manifesto, there is so much expectation among Batswana. We are pleased that we have caught the attention of so many of our countrymen and women and wish to assure you all that our commitment is as steadfast as ever.”
Mthimkhulu added that the process of consultations on the review of the constitution would begin “at the appropriate time”. Significantly, he said the Constitution is a sacred document that should be reviewed with the utmost caution and sober minds. Botswana, he emphasised, has been a united country and therefore the envisaged constitutional review should not alter the status quo.
“During the 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA), His Excellency the President reiterated government’s commitment to the promised constitutional review,” he said but did not give any indication of when the process might begin. “This sentiments cannot be taken lightly now, and they should not be taken lightly even once the process kickstarts. We must all aspire to come out of the process just as united, if not more united, than before.”
In 2019, President Masisi said his administration would hit the ground running to reform Botswana’s supreme law (the Constitution) as soon as the Botswana Democratic Party won the elections.
Calls for constitutional reform have long been made by politicians, scholars and critics alike who all agree the that the existing Constitution of the Republic gives the President unlimited authority and has been overtaken by time.