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Cabinet selected outside parley is a good idea, but there is more to that...

Publishing Date : 18 September, 2018

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President Mokgweetsi Masisi has once again indicated his desire to champion constitutional reforms that would see among others, selections of cabinet ministers from outside parliament. Masisi is interested in the idea of a cabinet that is selected outside parliament primarily because he believes he would be able to have best talent at his disposal.

In principle, Masisi is raising valid points. What is surprising however is the fact that more than 52 years since independence local politics still fail to attract the best crop. With the way the events of the world are turning out, our politics by now should be able to attract credible, knowledgeable and individuals. A plethora of reasons could be raised as to why our politics is failing to attract people that can actually move this country forward. Meagre pay is one of the explanations that crop out time and again. As they say, peanuts attract monkeys.

Most talented and well trained individuals enjoy good pay, either in corporate world or as senior civil servants. Unfortunately what our politics is offering is a far cry. Lack of integrity in our politics characterised by corruptions and other vices are other reasons that make cream of the crop to shun the game. Individuals with integrity do not want to soil their reputations by associating themselves with politics.It is this persistent believe that politics is dirty; the use of foul language and inability to live exemplary life by our politicians that has earned our politics a bad reputation.

We have seen politicians changing parties willy-nilly, something which bring cynicism about the country’s politics. Because of these, good men and women are precluding themselves from national politics, a price that the country pays through having incompetent leaders at the helm of the very vital institutions. The constitutional reform by Masisi has been raised before by some legislators including his own colleagues in the BDP. Samson Moyo Guma and Polson Majaga are some notable MPs that have advocated for this kind of reforms in the last few years.

 While their motions have never seen the light of the day, it is clear that they had valid points. Masisi made a alarmist remarks at the National Business Conference when he implied that the current crop of MPs who won in party primaries, are not as good, and may not be up to the task of heading ministries. This is also part of justification advanced by Masisi on the need to consider a cabinet which has others who are selected outside parliament. This proposed reform would help as ministers will focus on their portfolios while legislators also focus on their role of representation and law making.

This way the country would get the best out of the two. There will be no more lamenting that ministers lose because they were busy with government assignments. No! MPs would lose because voters opted for another alternative. Should Masisi forge ahead with this reform it would be one of many bold and progressives decisions that he would have championed. Sometimes that is what we need in a president.

Ministries like Health, Education and Trade, usually needs someone who has been a specialist in the field so that they come with ideas that would transform or move the sector to new heights. This idea should be put before parliament to discuss and look at the pros and cons of the development. For the past years, subject relating to constitutional reform have been a taboo, in the ruling party. We have been shy about making decision that would be in synch with our aspirations as a nation.

In today’s era, efficiency is very necessary to deliver a government that works for its people. Constitutional reforms involving representation also bring in the opportunity to consider increasing women representation in parliament.  In the past there were efforts to increase representation of women in parliament through the special election nomination dispensation.

In the 9th parliament Member of Parliament for Mahalapye East Botlogile Tshireletso tried to trigger constitutional amendment to increase the number of specially elected MPs from four to eight of which four seats will be reserved for women.

The motion was opposed famously by then Specially Elected MP Botsalo Ntuane, who argued that increasing the number of special parliamentary seats may not be the best way to increase women's representation in Parliament.

Ntuane suggested that it would be better to change Botswana's electoral system to proportional representation than to add new Specially Elected seats in Parliament. He argued that the voters are not in favour of increasing the number of special MPs because they dilute the power of the elected MPs.

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