The main opposition party, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), is resolute and will fight to the bitter end with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), to have an equitable and proportional representation in the Parliamentary Standing Committees.
There are 23 Parliamentary Committees from which five are Inter-Parliamentary Committees and already the latter’s members have been elected with 18 committes expected to be voted for next week. It is from the five international parliamentary committess that the UDC has read malice from their counterparts and raised a complaint.
“We have already submitted a complaint over the unequal representation of the inter-parliamentary committes in which you will have five BDP members against one of us. There should be equal and proportional representation in these committees, the BDP is ruling how can they police themselves,” UDC spokesperson on Parliamentary Reforms and Culture, Pono Moatlhodi asked rhetorically.
UDC which ammased 15 constituencies from last month’s General Elections, is unwavering in their stance and has threatened that should the BDP maintain ‘selfishness’ in other committes to be voted for next week, they will walk-out. “If our complaint fell on deaf ears, we will defintely walk out of those Standing Committees including from the inter-parliamentary committees because clearly it will be all about the BDP. But remember we were all voted for by Batswana to oversee their assets,” Moatlhodi who is also the opposition whip threatened.
The 2014-19 Parliament had a bad start owing to the selection of committee members. Back then, all the 20 UDC members walked out of the committees as a way of protest to show their displeaure on biased committee selection. The then Speaker of the National Assembly, Gladys Kokorwe refused to soften her stance, leaving opposition only with Public Accounts Commitee, to Chair. The Standing Orders compels that the PAC be Chaired by an opposition member.
“If they do like what happened in the past we will even write to some of the international organisations so that they know that there is unfair practice in Botswana, despite being hailed as a shining example of democracy. That way, we know that they will not be allowed to have a say in those events,” posited Moatlhodi who is representing Tonota constituency at the National Assembly.
The selection was made this past Thursday, with the results expected to be out on Friday (yesterday). This week all the legislators wishing to be in any of the 18 committees, submitted their names to the National Assembly Secretariat for consideration. The voting is done by the August House accross the political divide.
As is, the BDP which has 38 MPs plus six that were Specially Elected as Members of Parliament (SEMP) has 18 members eligible to seat in the committees. On the other hand, UDC has 15 while Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) has 3, with Alliance for Progressives (AP) with a single member. It is from this corner that UDC wants reasonable representation.
Apart from unfair representation, the UDC laments that it is Batswana or Parliamentary business that will suffer the most. This, Moatlhodi says, is because if a member for instance is sitting in five committes and they (committees) clash, the other one will be at a disadvantage. Following the protests immedeately after the 2014 elections, the BDP through its then Chief Whip, Fedilis Molao compromised so that the National Assembly business could not be compromised. Out of 18 Standing Committes BDP got 9 while the remaining 9 was divided between UDC and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) MPs. The storm was over, and business continued. This could be what Moatlhodi is hoping for this term.
While the opposition is adamant that it has a case to abandon Parliamentary committees, the BDP on the other hand, is of the view that the opposition should understand that they are a party in power. The BDP has always been of the view that the commitee representation numbers should reflect the number of one’s seats in Parliament. The BDP Chief Whip, Liakat Kablay told this publication that they are likely to have a 50-50 representation but revealed that it is all about democracy as those with many members will win.
The Botswana Parliament is created by Section 57 of the Constitution and it is composed of the President and the National Assembly. The role of Parliament is to make laws as stipulated in Section 86 of the Constitution, which states that: ‘Parliament shall have the power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Botswana.’ In this way it means Parliament exercises legislative powers as one of its core mandates. In addition, Parliament performs functions such as representation, scrutiny and oversight
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.