A call for an overhaul of the Constitution sparked a war of words between the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Eric Molale and some members of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi during the Tuesday sitting. While some Dikgosi including the mover of the motion Kgosi Galeakanye Modise of Tswapong region used the opportunity to air out their concerns brought through by the Constitution which they believed aided inequalities in Ntlo Ya Dikgosi, Molale would have none of that. He warned them to stop assuming that just because they had qualms with certain sections of the Constitution it therefore meant the whole constitution ought to be reviewed. “Constitution ya rona e siame mme fa e leng gore go na le section nngwe kana clause nngwe e e sa nnang sentle, there is a prescribed process ya gore re baakanye, e seng gore re goboke fela re re e tsofetse, a e baakanngweng yotlhe fela,” fumed Molale. According to Molale, although some members of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi were not happy with the constitution, the government of Botswana had in the past taken into consideration their grievances and amended certain sections which were of concerns to them. Kgosi Modise’s motion read: That this Honorable House requests Government to start the process of Constitutional Review so that Batswana can be afforded an opportunity to make an input on the Constitution that would be neutral, respectful and cognizant of every citizen of this country.
Molale did not mince words when responding to Modise’s motion. He told those who held the same view as Kgosi Modise that contrary to what they believe there is no need for an overhaul of the Constitution. “ke ne ke eletsa gone gore much as there is that right e re nang le yone ya gore re lebe dilo ka fa di ntseng ka teng, re baakanye, fa gongwe go baakanya mo e leng gore it is not really necessary, to fix that which ain’t broken can actually lead you to having to fix more broken things that would have broken by fixing the unbroken,” he said. In Molale’s view most Dikgosi who were in support of the motion in their debates, did not really justify why they think the whole constitution needs review but instead concentrated on specific sections particularly those to do with Bogosi. “So I posit gore it is not yet time gore re bo re re re dira an overhaul for our constitution because the laws that are there, in support of the provisions of this constitution are relevant and are effective,” said Molale. He slammed those in support of the motion for being bitter that some of the members of the house had automatic entrance into the house while they were voted in – an occurrence he claims was not necessarily contained in the constitution but the wish of their tribes. “The Constitution e ne e dira jalo deliberately so that it can give people options,” he said.
According to Molale, Kgosi Modise as the mover of the motion did not take issue with most of the chapters that make up the constitution hence there is no basis whatsoever why the Government should undertake a holistic constitutional review, as opposed to seeking the amendment only of those provisions of the constitution relating to Ntlo ya Dikgosi. Because some of the Dikgosi who were supporting the motion spoke out against the inequalities that were prevalent in the Ntlo ya Dikgosi particularly the fact that some Dikgosi were regarded as Dikgosi-kgolo while other were just representatives and Dikgosi, Molale assured them that those were but artificial titles which held no weight and meaning and were not recognised by the Constitution itself. “Remember there is nowhere in the law of this Republic fa go buiwang ka Kgosikgolo teng. These are perceptions made by people for whatever reason that I would not understand and I have never understood. Molao wa Bogosi o bua ka Kgosi, ga go na Kgosikgolo gope and therefore we should stick to the law, “ said Molale. This remark by Molale was refuted by several members who revealed that even during their visits as members of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi some members were introduced as Dikgosikgolo others as Dikgosi and others as representatives of Dikgosi despite the fact that Molale claims that they were all equal.
To support the argument further, Kgosi Modise revealed that contrary to what Molale said government seem to be supporting this social standing as salaries and benefits of those referred to as Dikgosikgolo surpassed those of other groups. Molale, however, maintained his stance that all members of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi were equal further imploring Dikgosi to accept and respect the Constitution as it is, saying it enshrines in it what is best for every Motswana. “Ke ka fa Constitution e e ntseng ka teng and we should never believe gore as it is, it is old fashioned. Remember, other countries do not even have a Constitution. Kwa ga Mmamosadinyana, all they use are laws enacted by Parliament, that enshrine the fundamental rights tsa bone in the various pieces of legislation and I am not saying we should copy them. All I am saying ke gore to try and make the Constitution ya rona look like it is a non-effective piece of legislation, ga se gone, it is not correct,” he said. The Minister’s concerns were shared by some Dikgosi among them Kgosi Disho Ndhowe of Okavango who like Molale felt the debate of those who supported the motion were only focused on Bogosi and not the Constitution in its entirety. According to Ndhowe, focusing on Bogosi only not only deviated from what Kgosi Modise’s motion was calling for but perhaps showed that there was nothing wrong with the Constitution.
Ndhowe’s arguments prompted Kgosi Maruje III’s response – feeling that Ndhowe’s comments did not reflect what was best for the nation particularly the people he represented. “Sa ntlha mma ke botse Kgosi gore rra, mpolelela keletso ya ba o ba emetseng kwano, gore a o ka mpolelela keletso ya bone. Sa bobedi, gongwe o re tlhalosetse mo go se re sa tswang go se bala fa gore tota wa re ga re a bua eng sese tlhomameng?” asked Kgosi Maruje. According to Kgosi Maruje, a constitutional review was a holistic issue which he believes every Motswana was eagerly awaiting. He said it is therefore imperative that Batswana can be afforded an opportunity to make an input on the Constitution which is envisaged to take the country forward in the next 50 years. As the mover of the motion Kgosi Modise bemoaned the fact that Molale insisted that there was no need for a constitutional review though evidence on the ground has shown that the nation is in support of his (Modise) view. This, he said, is even contained in Vision 2036 pillars. “Jaanong ke re mme Batswana ba utlwile. Kana e ne e se nna. Jaaka ke bua, I have quoted fa maabane mo Vision 2036 mo Page 25, e e buang gore Batswana ba tlhoka gore Constitution ya Botswana e ye go baakanngwa. Jaanong go utlwisa botlhoko fa e le gore Tona ene yo e leng gore Batswana ba mo file dithata, ke ene yo o reng ga a dumalane.” Modise said. The motion like Molale had asked failed to get support from most members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi were voted out.