Greedy MPs defend high perks

Nicholas Mokwena - BG reporter
Tuesday, 16 April 2019
MPs will be smiling all the way to the bank this month-end while their electorates suffer under the yoke of unemployment MPs will be smiling all the way to the bank this month-end while their electorates suffer under the yoke of unemployment

Members of Parliament have unanimously welcomed their massive salary adjustment effective April this year. Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Nonofo Molefhi this week presented under certificate of urgency the National Assembly (Salaries and Allowances) (Amendment) Bill of 2019.

He said this is because if the Bill is tabled through the normal course it would not be debated in the current Parliament sitting and would delay increase for MPs which is expected to effect this month. The Bill other than the adjustment also wants to delink the salaries of MPs from the Public Service Structure by 11 percent. The adjustment which excited legislators from the opposition and the ruling party means MPs are expected to now get P39 197 per month or P470 364 per annum. Currently MPs are earning P23, 786 per month.

The MPs expressed appreciation at this increase even though they said it is not enough when compared to other countries. The Speaker will get P600.00 sitting allowance every day on which he or she attends a meeting of Parliament or Committee of Parliament while MPs will get a sitting allowance of P450.00. Constituency allowance has been adjusted by 50 percent while Fixed (communication Allowance and Hospitality) has been adjusted by 10 percent.The President will get P89 588 per month (P1 075 056 annually); Vice President P78 586 (P943 032 annually); Speaker P60 416 (P724 992); Deputy Speaker P46 490 (P557 880); Minister P60 416 (P724 992); Assistant Minister P46 490 (P557 880); Government Whip P40 783 (P489 396); Opposition Whip P39 984 (P479 808) and Leader of Opposition P46 490 (P559 880).

MP for Boteti East Setlhomo Lelatisitswe said when he became MP in 2014 it was shown that they were lowly paid. He stated that as they travel the world on Parliament assignments it has proven that Botswana MPs are working on a voluntary basis.  He said they are happy about the increase especially that of the Speaker as this shows government is moving in the right direction in efforts to empower Parliament as an arm of government. He said constituency allowance increase will assist as some of their constituencies are vast and need a lot of resources. 

Mochudi West MP, Gilbert Mangole wished all MPs could be able to speak on the increase and speak with one voice. He said it is time MPs publicly speak about their salaries which he said are very low.  He expressed worry that the media will blow the increment out of proportion with the potential of making voters angry.  “I wish we could have a calibre of journalists who will state that we are not paid enough. Not what we will see in the newspapers’ headlines tomorrow.  “Not what we have currently where journalists are reactionary to public discomfort about our salaries. The press should demonstrate that we are not paid but we are always portrayed as vultures. 

“This is not enough but we appreciate the little that the minister is offering. Right now, a District Commissioner is being paid more than an MP but we do more work than them,” argued Mangole. Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Thapelo Olopeng said as MPs they have to be brave when talking about their salaries. He said what they are currently getting as MPs is eroding the dignity of the country. “We do not have to be worried what our electorates will say. Even our entertainment allowances cannot even do what they are supposed to because the allowance is too small.

“We should have a political pay structure different from that of public servants. What kind of hierarchy is this? You are told you are the boss to the Permanent Secretary but you get paid less that your PS! “Where have we seen such thing where a boss gets paid less than their subordinates. When I arrived in this Parliament the president was paid less than Permanent Secretary to the President this is not right for our reputation”, charged Oloponeg who is also MP for Tonota. Liakat Kably, MP for Letlhakeng-Lephephe who also serves in the MPs Rights and Privileges (Staff Welfare) Committee said they have been troubling the minister about the Bill and are happy that it has finally reached the floor of Parliament

National Assembly (Salaries and Allowances) (Amendment) Bill of 2017 with the 4 percent increase brought an MP’s monthly salary to P23, 786 per month which is P285, 432, 20 every year. The President annually pocketed 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 got P285 432, 20 per annum.
Constituency Allowances, were increased by 40 percent which is almost P3 000. A constituency such as Gaborone Central, which was getting P6 185, 15 is getting P8 659, 21 which annually comes to P103 910, 52. A constituency such as Okavango gets P10 628, 98 per month from P7 592, 13.

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