Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) MPs have vowed to fight to the bitter end to have a Bill on their conditions of service tabled in Parliament before supporting the Presidential retirement package Bill.
The MPs were scheduled to deliberate the MP conditions of service Bill during a BDP parliamentary Caucus on Tuesday but was however adjourned due to failure to form a quorum as some of the MPs were attending various Parliamentary committees. The MPs are said to have requested that a meeting be set for Thursday (yesterday) morning to discuss the Bill.
“We do not know the contents of the conditions of service Bill because it has not been availed to us. We want Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Eric Molale to come and make a presentation to us this Thursday. We have made it clear that before we support the President’s (Gratuity, Pensions and Retirement Benefits) Bill we want improvement in our conditions of service as MPs”, said a BDP MP who attended the botched Tuesday meeting.
President Ian Khama in July last year had a fallout with BDP MPs who demanded that their salaries be increased before they could support the Presidential retirement package Bill. The Presidential Retirement Package Bill has been read for the first time in Parliament and its Second Reading has allegedly been delayed by the demands of the BDP MPs.
The president had told his party MPs to their faces in the July meeting that, ‘it would never happen’.The BDP MPs had wanted to take advantage of the Bill to have their pension and gratuity to be reviewed by way of increasing their monthly salaries. Khama’s contention was that the MPs want to piggyback on the President (Gratuity, Pension and Retirement Benefits) Bill. He argued that salaries for MPs could not be increased while public servants’ salaries have not been increased.
The Presidents (Gratuity, Pensions and Retirement Benefits) Bill was expected to be debated and passed in the winter session last year but due to this development it had to be delayed with the hope that the MPs would one day convince the president during their party caucus. Government Whip Liakat Kably could neither confirm nor deny the matter.
He stated that the issue was expected to be discussed among other issues. He however confirmed that the MPs requested for a meeting on Thursday. Pressed further Kably admitted that the matter has been a hot potato which MPs want addressed. Opposition Chief Whip, Wynter Mmolotsi expressed doubt that the Bill for MPs conditions of service would ever be brought to Parliament. He said they would have to play ‘wait and see’ as the responsible minister has promised that he is working on the Bill.