A score of newly elected Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) had planned to lobby for the appointment of former Gaborone South Member of Parliament as the Speaker of the National Assembly, but developed cold feet when President Mokgweetsi Masisi put forward the name of former Attorney General, Phandu Skelemani.
While the ruling party MPs were aware that Masisi had decided on Skelemani for speakership, they were determined to convince Masisi to instead deploy Skelamani to lead their envisaged Drafting Office under the ambit of Parliament, with Molatlhegi taking over the reins as the Speaker of the National Assembly. Despite this is a view which is enjoying support from a considerable number of MPs, including those in the opposition. MPs went quiet when Masisi tabled the name of the former Cabinet Minister for election.
Skelemani was elected by all the 38 ruling party members. “MPs were of the view that Skelemani could be resourceful, given his career in law, in the Drafting Office, a post which could have been more lucrative and paying even better than the Speakership,” a source told this publication. “For speakership we wanted Molatlhegi. We believed he was the right person to drive the reforms that we seek, and also of the opinion that this position would be demanding for someone of Skelemani’s age.”
The legislators had thought that under the new administration things would pan out differently and their proposals will be considered but after Masisi prevailed with his choice, they fear reforms may not even take place. If legislators had their way, this Parliament was to have its own vast secretariat made of different departments that were to make the legislature very efficient.
MPs agree that they need the guidance of experts such as economists, lawyers, technologist and others. This is because MP elected officials are expected to regulate highly specialised areas of which they have little understanding. Legislators should have people in their staff who understand other areas, MPs contend. It is from this point that Skelemani was tipped to head the law drafting office and not speakership. “The idea was he is wise, he has been in the law fraternity for long and his experience was going to come in handy. He is old and obviously does not have the energy that comes with the role he is given,” said the source.
The MPs want take a leaf from United States, which has various units created specifically for helping the Congress [US law making body] to legislate effectively. The US has agencies like; Congressional Budget Office (CBO); Congressional Research Service (CRS) and The Office of Legislative Counsel, which are all non-partisan. The units have a staff of approximately 600 employees amongst them lawyers, economists, reference librarians, and social, natural, and physical scientists. The units aid the congress in bill drafting, research and budget analysis.
These units are credited with making the US congress more efficient and it is the arrangement which MPs want for Botswana’s parliament. Speaking at the just ended MPs orientation workshop in Kasane, the new Leader of Opposition and also Maun West MP Dumelang Saleshando, said more than a decade has passed since the issue was first discussed but to this day nothing has changed. “I will be engaging the Speaker and hope he will also understand that as the head of the legislature the buck stops with him,” he said.
“We want Parliament to have its own staff and budget. It is a pity that Parliament budget is drafted under the Ministry of Presidential Affairs,” MP Mephato Reatile was quoted saying. 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, and oversight.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.