MOUTHS OF MPs
Last week Umbrella for Democratic Change, which is a main opposition party in Parliament defended its refusal to join a parliamentary committee on Directorate of Intellegence and security (DIS).
Despite the standing provisions that dictates that leader of opposition together with state president shall appoint members of the committee, UDC maintained they will not take part in that process, and went on to call the committeee a “brotherhood of wizards.
FRANCINAH BAAITSE, summarised the debate as read from the hansard.
SPEAKER: When the House adjourned yesterday Honourable Dr Dow, was on the floor. She was left with 23 minutes and 9 seconds.
CARTER HIKUAMA: On a point of order. I would have risen on this point yesterday because there are statements that were made yesterday, which were misleading, so if we don’t correct them they may go on record as they were.
I am not a lawyer, but I am a teacher, a social activist and a politician in that order.
It is on the point of rule of law, where she alleges that we suggested that leader of opposition has broken the rule of law or has no respect of rule of law because we as members of UDC and or Opposition have refused to join the DIS committee.
That was a distortion and deliberate misleading of the nation.
I want her to make a retraction because we acted within our right and practiced conscience of freedom of association.
SPEAKER: How is she out of order?
HIKUAMA: Telling the nation that refusing to get into a rogue and deceptive structure like DIS was disrespect for the rule of law.
We were protesting against a rogue and deceptive structure and bad law. So it is not disrespect for the rule of law.
SPEAKER: I was in the house then, I do not remember Dr Dow specifically accusing somebody.
I thought she just spoke to the rule of law and how it is applied; that if there is a law that has been put in place, we need to observe it, and she gave your protest as an example.
DUMELANG SALESHANDO: Your interpretation of Mma Dow’s statement differs from that of honourable Hikuama.
If she said refusal to join the committee undermines the rule of law then she is out of order , but what you are saying is she did not say so.
So let us proceed on that understanding , but if she will confirm the contrary then we will demand a retraction.
UNITY DOW : When the time struck six o’clock in the evening last night, I had just started the debate on Constitutional review. (Speaks at length).
Finally, I want to look back in three minutes to what I said when I started, and I would say it very loudly and boldly, the rule of law says that you abide by the law.
When you do not like it, you move for it to be amended. When you are given authority by an Act to act, it is a dereliction of duty not to act…
DAVID TSHERE: The Honourable Member is right to say the Leader of the Opposition has an obligation to obey the law, but she has to balance it with the fact that he equally has a moral obligation to disobey the unjust law…
SPEAKER: Did she talk about the Leader of Opposition?
TSHERE: No, she is concluding with the same…
SETHOMO LELATISITSWE: I think the House would be out of order if we continue to allow the honourable member to say it is okay to allow a member to disrespect the law..
SPEAKER: There is nothing out of order. Can you sit down and allow Honourable Unity Dow to go on.
DOW: Let me just conclude on this point that churches around the country are very upset that only 50 people can go to church, but they have to obey.
It is a 100 now, apparently. They cannot have 110, 120 because they are upset with the law or they are protesting, they cannot do that.
The Judge of the High Court who is appointed to adjudicate in cases must sit and adjudicate, they cannot say, “you know what, I am against this principle or whatever”, they must adjudicate.
The same way when an Act of Parliament or this House here says, “a Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence shall be established and shall have nine members who shall be appointed by the President in consultation with the Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition, and the composition shall make sure that there is a balance in terms of the ruling party of the House,” the Leader of the Opposition has got no choice, absolutely no choice…
(Someone calls for order)
DOW: When he took oath of office, he was saying I will obey the law. I will amend it when I do not like it anymore, but I will obey it.
SALESHANDO: Finally you have said it, she is out of order. In Botswana when one refuses to obey the law they get charged.
If we have broken the law why are we not prosecuted? That is number one. Number two, you are aware that President Masisi got into office in 2018, what are you saying about his part of breaking the law?
If the law says, :Shall appoint,”why did he only remember to do so in 2020? So it is either she withdraws because if I have committed an offence then I have to be prosecuted, I am ready for those charges.
Lesang bogatapa jwa go dikologa dikgang, gompieno you are withdrawing them kwa court kwa tsa bo Isaac Kgosi…
DOW: I think we are confusing things here. First of all, I can stand here and offer an opinion about the law on anything and if you do not like my opinion, then you just have to. You do not stand and say because you disagree with me, therefore it is a point of order, it is not.
DITHAPELO KEORAPETSE: We obviously do not care about her opinions. What we care about is imputing improper motive, suggesting that we have disobeyed the law by not participating in the DIS Committee, that is where we have a problem.
Honourable Dow had absolutely no problem when the Law Society stated unequivocally that they were not going to participate in the Media Practitioners Act.
The message being put out there is that we disobeyed the law. We did not. An unjust law is no law.
SPEAKER: Calls for hansard
HIKUAMA: Ke batla go botsa sengwe, ke gore a devoted christian like Dr Matsheka, o bo o re a tsenelele lekgotla la baloi, a brotherhood of wizards!
RAKGARE: You cannot allow people to call us baloi (wizards)… It is wrong!