Member of Parliament for Nata-Gweta Polson Majaga is being pushed against the wall by his party – Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Majaga who dared to defy party convention, went against his party’s processes and even seemed to disrespect the party’s values when he tabled the motion calling for direct election of President in Parliament.
Although it received overwhelming support, there had been prior plans to kill the motion when Vice President Slumber Tsogwane tried to engage Majaga in a bid to dissuade him against going ahead with his plans. But now, indications are that Majaga’s hard work will all come to nought following this past weekend’s BDP National Council in Kang, which wants nothing to do with the ‘dangerous’ motion. This week BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi said there is no how the party would give such a dangerous motion the green light.
In fact, he said that Majaga himself conceded at the National Council in Kang to not having followed proper party processes and procedures and promised to “engage further with party leadership on the motion”. But in an interview this week Majaga told Botswana Guardian that the motion is for Batswana and not for ‘one man who stood at the National Council and expressed his discomfort about the motion’. The outspoken legislator said the National Council was “not the right forum” to discuss a matter which has been dealt with by Parliament.
“I did agree to engage the leadership further on the matter. People have to understand that this issue is for Batswana and it is one of the issues they have long wanted to be attended to. “I humbled myself at the Council because I had to respect the leadership of the party but surprisingly people who were pushing for the motion to be discussed though I was not around, which is why when my whereabouts were questioned I stood up and went to the podium to explain. “I did not want to embarrass anyone, which is why I obliged for further consultation but that does not change what happened in Parliament,” said Majaga adding that MPs were not opposed to the motion.
He wondered why at the Council Vice President Tsogwane, Balopi and newly-appointed Central Committee additional member Tebelelo Seretse were also pushing for the motion to be subjected to further rigorous debate by the BDP. But Balopi told the media this week that it was “disorderly” to have the motion brought before Parliament without first being subjected to vigorous scrutiny by the party. He revealed that on numerous occasions the party through its Parliamentary Caucus tried to have the motion put on hold but failed because the majority wanted to have the motion proceeded with.
“The motion at first hand might be seen to be progressive because this is done in other countries. When you scrutinise it further you will find out that there would be a lot of changes that comes with it. “The motion has to be subjected to party process which is why after the National Council we would take it further to the National Congress. The motion was first taken to Parliament and we are saying this is not how we do things as the BDP. “The motion would not only affect the president but everything around the presidency. So, we have to understand the implications that come with it,” Balopi explained.
He stated that this could also affect other party members who would have thought would grow through party ranks to at one point become the president. He said the BDP is not saying the motion is bad but wants it to be debated thoroughly. Balopi said the motion would not only change the political landscape but that the Constitution would also have to be changed.
“This would be a huge process that would need referendum and change of landscape politically,” said Balopi adding that as the BDP they do not want Botswana to find herself in the position of Malawi which at one point voted a non-partisan president who immediately formed a party and polarised Parliament through appointment of ministers and those who wanted appointments joined the new party. “This is why we say as the BDP there is no way the matter should be first discussed in Parliament. All BDP MPs who stood and debated the motion are deployees of the BDP.
“At times people misdirect themselves and say I have been voted by the people. Why don’t you contest as an independent candidate and be voted as such? “So, when you use the BDP ticket, emblem and slogan then learn to respect its constitution, principles and its values and act accordingly. As the BDP we are not going to accept that to happen that way,” Balopi stated.