Home » News » Politics » Masisi shines in Khama’s absence at BDP caucus

Masisi shines in Khama’s absence at BDP caucus

Publishing Date : 15 August, 2017


At a poorly attended Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) weekly caucus and lobbying meeting on Tuesday, Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi used the absence of President Lt Gen Ian Khama to smitten himself with Members of Parliament and released his anti-venom against opposition motions which in his view are aimed at winning the hearts of civil servants.

A particular target this week was Selibe Phikwe West Member of Parliament, Dithapelo Keorapetse, who has tabled three bills aimed improving the conditions of service for Police Officers, Soldiers and Prison Warders by amending the Acts establishing their employers. Keorapetse’s motion became a subject of discussion for most of the Tuesday morning meeting. “We discussed that at length, although some supported Keorapetse’s motion, it was resolved that we should shot the motion down during voting.

This is so because, the Minister (Kgathi) is also looking at the issue of improving the conditions of service of police officers and it wouldn’t look good for an opposition member to become such a darling to the public servants while the Minister is still cooking something for them. This is politics remember,” one Member of Parliament from the BDP corner shared. The Weekendpost mole couldn’t clearly reveal what exactly is in the pipeline from the Minister’s side, to offer police officers what Keorapetse’s Bill amendment was proposing. As per the spirit of the caucus, the amendment bill from the Selibe Phikwe West MP was shot down a two days later after it received 12 votes in support with 20 opposing it.

Keorapetse’s proposed Police amendment bill, BDF amendment Bill and Prisons amendment bill had sought to improve the conditions of service for the police, BDF and Prisons officers. However, according to sources, this was seen by the BDP caucus as a political gimmick aimed at winning the hearts of public servants. The Minister of Defence Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi led the chorus that called for castration of the proposed amendments. Kgathi was unapologetic that this is a fight for the vote of public servants and his view is that the BDP is in power and it should bring laws to parliament and should not be outshined by the opposition. Kgathi comes from the same village as Keorapetse and the latter’s party, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) is the closest rival at every election since 2004.

Easy going Masisi makes promises

The meeting which Masisi chaired and was seen as easy-going when compared to the usual chairperson, President Khama, resolved on other issues which had concerned the BDP legislators for some time. This publication gathered that the BDP backbenchers told Masisi that there is need to align the standing orders to move with the times. “The Standing Orders effectively say Ministers are not under any pressure to answer questions from us backbenchers because they can tell half-truths, distort information, refuse to answer, waste time with unnecessary information and even totally refuse to answer questions,” said one frustrated backbencher. He indicated that Kgathi has on numerous occasions been labelled as the ‘stubborn’ Minister because he never adequately respond to questions from Members of Parliament especially those from the opposition. He always treat them with contempt.

Another standing order which the MPs want changed is that which deals with powers of the Speaker of the National Assembly. They argued that this will reduce executive dominance as it is the case today. “We also want to reduce secrecy especially from top civil servants like Directors and Permanent Secretaries who are not allowed to update us about anything on behalf of the government without permission, but we are their custodians so we want this to be changed,” said another MP.

With the charming Masisi chairing the meeting, the BDP MPs were promised that very soon the orders will be visited. “Actually it could have been aligned in July but the passing on of Sir Ketumile Masire changed everything, so we will soon address those issues according to the leadership.” Given this rare opportunity to express themselves freely without hurry and the pressure of time as is normally the case with the strict President Khama, BDP MPs who spoke to this publication are of the view that they addressed a number of issues efficiently.

With only four parliamentary sessions left before the general elections, the Members of Parliament also spoke against the idea of piling motions. There currently mountains of motions which are yet to be presented by MPs from across the political divide.
BDP MPs are worried that some motions will not get the chance to be debated because the 2019 general elections are fast approaching. “There is literally a truck-load of motions and bills that are yet to be put on the floor and some were lamenting they might never see the light of the day. So we suggested that we should push them especially on days where we finish debates early then we can look and push the motions. But it was promising because it appears it is also a concern on many of the democrats.”



Do you think the closure of BCL will compel SPEDU to double their efforts in creating job opportunities in the Selibe Phikwe?