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MPs slap Masisi, Tsogwane with demands

Publishing Date : 17 February, 2020

Author : KETUMILE RAMATITI

Just like their predecessors, members of the 12th parliament have renewed their quest for improved conditions of service and are pushing President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and his assistant, Slumber Tsogwane against the wall to accede to their demands as a matter of urgency.


The request comes as a follow-up from last year, when the legislators got a 4 percent salary hike, delinking members of the National Assembly from the public service structure, hence increasing their earnings by 11 percent. Legislators made sharp demands to the president’s appointed commission that was intended to review legislators’ salaries and conditions of service. Among the demands, apart from salary hike, Members of Parliament wanted to be given P500 000 each at the beginning of their parliamentary term. This they say was going to avert dependency on donors and will enable them to service electorates.


The MPs demand to be given P500 000 each at the beginning of their parliamentary term was shot down by President Masisi, and the second demand (car scheme) was deferred thus it has now resurfaced with much dynamism. The legislators now want the government to ensure that they have vehicles to use at their respective constituencies.


The proposal is in such a way that the government pays 50 percent of the cost of the vehicle and the remaining 50 percent is settled by the MP. The lawmakers say, this is practiced in many countries including Zambia and Kenya. This week the BDP backbenchers gathered again to fine-tune the proposal before handing it to Tsogwane and Masisi next week.


“We have discussed it and we agreed, but for now we are only waiting to submit it to the leadership. It is not the first time, we discussed this in the past parliament and we hope our request will not fall on deaf ears,” BDP’s Liakat Kablay who was in the MPs welfare committee told this publication. The legislators’ contention is motivated by the fact that Ministers are given two cars to use on official duties, while MPs are only availed a car transporting them from their residences to parliament. They also want an official car to discharge their duties with ease.


“We are only pinning our hopes on BDP members and its leadership especially a general assembly so that we can demonstrate how this is key to us. But honestly speaking we need the cars, we are struggling at our constituencies. It is always disheartening when the President visits us and we have to do patch up jobs transport wise. But we are very optimistic that the request will see the light of day,” said Pono Moatlhodi, who is UDC Parliamentary Reforms and Cultural Sector Spokesperson.


The proposal is welcomed by MPs from both sides of the aisle. They are of the view that apart from Ministers, they are rendered subordinates to Mayors and Council leaders who are given official cars. Meanwhile Maun East legislator Goretetse Kekgonegile, said law makers should look this demand from a broader and long term perspective.


“We should be far-sighted with this. To me it should not be about the car being mine, but rather I would advocate for a constituency office car, that would stay there and continues to do the work even when I am attending parliament business,” he said.
“To be honest, we are struggling as we use our own cars and fuel them as you may know our terrain is very hard, it needs special cars.” The legislators, especially ring-leaders from the BDP, are spirited and confident that they will emerge victorious at the end of the day.


The MPs are resolute to an extent that they are prepared to push the President against the wall using their numbers.  “We might be forced to also come up with a motion to slash president’s benefits and or luxury that he enjoys and that of his Vice, because they would be failing to put themselves in our shoes, though they know the struggle,” one BDP legislator said this week.


“We have a very big problem especially during consultative Kgotla meetings, council leadership and other officials will be in their official cars while an MP, you would be stranded in your not so honourable car and it is not right. The conditions in our constituencies are so bad and with the little we get it is difficult to afford those cars,” lamented Serowe North MP, Baratiwa Mathoothe in an interview. 


Last year the BDP MPs had the privilege to discuss this in the presence of President Masisi. Apart from the 50-50 vehicle scheme, MPs also want the government to implement the agreed decision to give former MPs 20 percent of the current lawmakers’ salary as living allowance. This however appears to be a pie in the sky as senior government officials have repeatedly said, this would be double-dipping. Calculations were done in such a manner that the former legislators will get P8000 a month for a life time.


“We are told that the public pay structure does not cater for us, thus we will get the incentive only after the law has been passed by parliament which will be the next session. This is to also create a scale for us, that is what we have been told anyway,” Association of Former MPs Vice President, David Magang told this publication when this was deferred.


He continued; “Of course we are disappointed as former legislators because we anticipated that by now we will be getting something so that we can live a dignified life as you might know that most of us are struggling. We will wait for government to create that structure in the public system and we are adamant that the 12th parliament will address that because our numbers keep on increasing. Some will not be returning back after the elections,” he said.

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