Despite having sworn to uphold the law, President Mokgweetsi Masisi has, in brazen defiance of democratic norm and explicit statutory direction, unilaterally appointed nine mostly ruling party MPs to the Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security (PCIS).
This unilateral diktat contravenes the Intelligence and Security Service Act which states that such appointment shall be done in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition (LOO). The current LOO, Honourable Dumelang Saleshando, has released a public statement in which he says that the president didn’t consult him but merely told him whom he had appointed to the PCIS. Just so there is no confusion, the Intelligence and Security Service Act states that the president should consult the LOO, and not merely inform him of his choice.
Notwithstanding what had happened, the Office of the President released a fraudulent statement claiming that President Masisi had held a “consultative” meeting with the Speaker of the National Assembly and the LOO on MPs “proposed” for membership of the PCIS.
The use of “proposed” reinforces the fraud because ordinarily when you propose something, you give others an opportunity to also make an input. As Hon. Saleshando has revealed, he was merely notified about MPs who had been appointed to the Committee and not invited to a discussion on who should be appointed.
Not only is the president corrupting the meaning of simple English words, he is also subverting the simple process of representative democracy by co-opting elected public officials into a nefarious scheme to expand powers of the presidency. Power should reside not with political elites but with the people through elected representatives.
In the matter at hand, the president has appointed the nine MPs to do his bidding. This represents both abuse of presidential power and inefficient use of parliamentary assets.
BPF wishes to reiterate its position that the Intelligence and Security Service Act should be reviewed with a view to reforming the DIS. The BPF National Executive Committee has thus, at its Monday November 2nd 2020 meeting resolved that none of its members should serve in this committe.
Revelations of the role that the DIS played in the 2019 general elections provides clear evidence that unless it is re-oriented in the national interest, the DIS will continue to both undermine our cherished democracy and human security as well as jeopardise Botswana’s international standing.
In conclusion, the president should humble himself by apologising to the nation for the blunder he has made. BPF’s expectation is that when he starts over the process of appointing members of the PCIS, he should – as the law requires, undertake good-faith consultation with the LOO. Unless he does this, the committee he unilaterally appointed will have no legitimacy and we will not be a part of it.