MPs’ secret salary hike under wraps

Nicholas Mokwena
Tuesday, 15 August 2017
Members of Parliament Members of Parliament

Members of Parliament are expected to get more than the initial 4 percent which was published in the Government Gazette in April this year, Botswana Guardian has been informed.

According to the initial Bill the MPs were to get four (4) percent salary hike. At press time Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Eric Molale was scheduled to present some amendments to Parliament which are expected to increase MPs’ salaries by around P10 000 which is close to 40 percent. 

The Bill, currently at committee stage, has been embraced by MPs across the aisle. During the previous Parliament sitting, this Bill nearly caused an uproar as MPs wanted it to be tabled before they could debate and support the President’s (Pensions and Retirement) Bill. Prior to agreeing to the four (4) percent proposed by Government, MPs had allegedly proposed 25 percent increase, 40 percent Constituency Allowance, Provision of transport for each Constituency and review of their Terminal Benefits. 

Presidential Affairs Minister Eric Molale however awarded the MPs four (4) percent salary increase and 40 percent Constituency allowance. According to the Bill published on 6th April 2017 the President, Vice President, Ministers, assistant ministers and MPs will have their 4 percent salary increment backdated to April 1st 2017 as soon as Parliament passes the Bill. 

Under the Bill a 4 percent increase would bring an MP’s monthly salary to P23, 786 per month which is P285, 432. 20 every year. Information has been sketchy on the new development as Minister Molale would not avail the amendments. MPs approached by this publication could also not give a definite figure of the increase even though they confirmed that the increase would be more than 4 percent. 

Their excuse has been that Molale has not given them copies of the amendment as he promised. When approached, the minister directed this publication to speak to Government Spokesperson Dr Jeff Ramsay to assist with the figures. Ramsay however maintained that MPs will just get a 40 percent increment for constituency allowance and 4 percent as salary increment. 

At Press time, Parliament was scheduled to finalise the Bill yesterday (Thursday). Government Whip and Opposition Whip were also not able to assist on the pending amendments. Supporting the increase in Parliament, MPs have indicated that even though they understand the hard economic times felt by the country, their salaries have to match their work. They have revealed that what they are doing is not for them but the institution (Parliament).

Government Whip Liakat Kably said he is happy that all MPs are in agreement. He said the increment would go a long way in uplifting their lives and assisting them in executing their duties at constituency level. He explained that their salaries have been low as compared to other countries.  He said even though people might think MPs are being selfish, the public have to think of the work that legislators do.

When debating the Bill, Opposition Whip Wynter Mmolotsi said MPs have not been getting what they deserve. He stated that they share the little they get with their constituents. Mmolotsi said they appreciate that their salaries should improve and improve significantly. He expressed worry that even though Parliament is considered one of the arms of government, MPs are lowly paid. He wondered what would be wrong if an MP gets what is equivalent to what is being earned by a judge.

He however called for their salaries to be considered by an independent body. He said MPs should not be deciding their salaries and the mandate should be given to the Parliamentary Service Commission. 

During a General Assembly in April, Minister Molale is said to have indicated that there are no sufficient funds to meet all the demands by MPs. The minister, according to MPs who attended the meeting, indicated that as per the recommendations by MPs Rights and Privileges (Staff Welfare) Committee Chairman Haskins Nkaigwa, all those proposed would not be met but the remaining ones are not being thrown away.  

The minister is said to have indicated that as government they would continue to engage with MPs on their proposals and grievances.According to the Bill published the same date it was to be tabled in Parliament on 6th April 2017 the President, Vice President, Ministers, assistant ministers and MPs would have their 4 percent salary increment backdated to April 1st 2017 as soon as Parliament passes the Bill. 

The Bill is expected to be passed during the winter session (July this year), which is a session that focuses on Bills.

Even though the MPs have complained about their tools of trade they have scored big on Constituency Allowances, which have been increased by 40 percent which is almost P3 000. A Constituency such as Gaborone Central, which has been getting P6 185, 15 would now get P8 659, 21 which annually comes to P103 910, 52. 

A Constituency such as Okavango would get P10 628, 98 per month from P7 592, 13. Under the amended Act annually the constituency would get P127 547, 78. Although the MPs hail this increase they argue that a lot still needs to be done in terms of availing tools of trade for MPs in their respective constituencies for executive government duties and programmes. 

They still believe that provision of a motor vehicle and a driver per constituency should be considered. In the salaries the Bill states that the President would annually pocket P907 595, 50; Vice President at the rate of P535 902, 10; a minister P470 959, 80; Speaker P470 959, 80; Assistant Minister, Deputy Speaker and Leader of Opposition all at the rate of P397 085, 50; Government Whip P315 125. 20; Opposition Whip P302 888, 60 while MPs would get P285 432, 20 per annum.

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