Attorney General Dr Abraham Keetshabe has said that he is not aware of any task team that has been set up to look at possible constitutional review.The purported review was alluded to by Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Eric Molale in response to a motion by Member of Parliament for Selebi Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse calling for a review of the constitution.
Parliament rejected the motion. When appearing before Parliamentary Public Accounts, Dr Keetshabe who is the Principal Legal Advisor to Cabinet, said he was hearing news of a constitutional task team for the first time from the committee.When probing the Attorney General, Keorapetse wanted to know if the minister lied to Parliament. “There was a motion in Parliament calling for review of the constitution.
The minister then stated that something is being done. He said there is a task team working on something. So I want to know as legal advisor to the executive, what is the progress so far,” asked Keorapetse. In response, Dr Keetshabe said he knew nothing about what the legislator has mentioned. “So the minister lied,” interjected Keorapetse to which Dr Keetshabe stated that as far as he knows he has not rendered any advice to government to review the constitution.
The AG revealed that it is not his role to determine any policy but once the policy is put before him, he advises accordingly by giving effect and meaning to the policy direction that government wants to take. He expressed ignorance of a recent statement by President Mokgweetsi Masisi that the time has come for the constitution to be reviewed so that the president will have powers to choose members of his cabinet outside Parliament.
When presenting the motion in Parliament, Keorapetse had acknowledged the drafters of the current constitution and its role in moulding the country’s democracy, but emphasised that the motion was more focused on cumulating the country’s democracy. He said democracy was a continuum, which like a tree, needed to be nourished and watered to ensure its democratic consolidation.
He said the 1963 to 1964 constitutional talks in Lobatse were dominated by colonial masters and chiefs and few representation of political parties as there were only two political parties then. The 1965 constitution, he said was a template constitution, which was given to Batswana by the then colonial masters, adding that it cannot be referred to as a public policy as it does not reflect divergent views of various members of the society.
The motion to review the country’s constitution, he said, presents an opportunity to legitimise the constitution and empowers Batswana to have ownership to their own constitution as they were not fully involved in the constitution draft in the colonial days.