The Speaker of the National Assembly has suddenly found herself on the other side of the aisle as the opposition parties, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) take her for just another Botswana Democratic Party legislator.
In their mission to oppose the proposed Bill for Presidential Gratuity and increment of Specially Elected Members of Parliament and Ministry’s Bill, the two parties accuse the speaker of mischief in favour of the ruling party and therefore promise no generosity towards her.The speaker has been identified as a major stumbling block following her decision to invoke standing Order 60.4, which she vowed to use on her quest to tighten screws against ‘misbehaving’ MPs.
The opposition whip, Wynter Mmolotsi told a media briefing recently that they were aware that the Speaker would try to intimidate them with the newly discovered Parliament Standing Order. Under this standing order, Kokorwe has so far suspended from Parliament two opposition MPs, Haskins Nkaigwa and Dithapelo Keorapetse of Gaborone north and Selibe Phikwe West respectively.
Kokorwe revealed at the start of the current session that she has been lenient on the MPs and she would stop at nothing to use Standing Order 60.4 against any MP whose behaviour would be un-Parliamentary. Mmolotsi, who is also UDC Member of Parliament for Francistown South stated that Kokorwe is serving the interest of the BDP. He said as opposition MPs they do not need the Speaker’s leniency.
“This standing order was just discovered when Parliament went on recess. This is the same discovery as that of some clauses of the Constitution that have been discovered on several occasions and used. The current administration would continue to use such clauses or pieces of legislation that would work to their advantage. We would not be silenced by the speaker to speak what we believe is true or oppose anything that is of no beneficial to Batswana and our country,” the legislator stated.He revealed that they have expressed their concerns on several occasions during the General Assembly.
According to Mmolotsi they have reached a point where they have no confidence on the speaker. He said they would also oppose the Bill that calls for the increase of Specially Elected MPs and increase of Ministers, which according to Mmolotsi, would be a costly exercise.
Mmolotsi said they were surprised to learn that the Bill would propose for a housing allowance as opposed to the current arrangement where government provides a retirement home for any President leaving office.The MP for Maun West, Tawana Moremi indicated that as the opposition they are against this development. He said they are already constrained to do parliament business, as there are a few backbenchers from the BDP. It is Moremi’s opinion that government was supposed to have first identified problems then look for resources to fix such problems.
“You cannot fix the problem at education ministry by splitting the ministry. You need to assess what you are trying to achieve. Then get resources to fix the problem. There has never been any mention of increasing MPs or ministries during the 2015 State of the Nation Address or even during the budget speech in February this year. Then all of a sudden the issues comes in June, who are they intending to reward?”