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MPs, Ministers collide over ‘urgency’ bills

Members of Parliament both from the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) have expressed deep concern over the continuous habit of tabling and passing of almost all bills under certificate of urgency by ministers at the ongoing winter parliament session.

The legislators are concerned that passing almost any bill in this manner will affect the quality of the legislations passed by the national assembly. Further, the legislators are worried that the August house may be abusing the certificate of urgency, although it is guaranteed that bills could be passed as such.

Majority of the bills which are considered to be important have been tabled under the certificate of urgency primarily because, according to cabinet, they should be aligned to certain international standards as required by the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) which Botswana is a subsidiary to. Under ESAAMLG monitoring, there are a lot of loopholes as there is no legal provision that meets the body‘s requirements and recommendations pertaining to dealing with corruption and its related crimes such as money laundering.

This notwithstanding, the legislators have blasted the ministers for failing to adopt and implement the ESAAMLG recommendations as the observations were tabled to the Council of Ministers in 2016. They questioned why the ministers are now, two years hastening to act on the issues. The MPs expressed concern that the ministers are just abusing the legislation as they think that it is a rubber stamp of their bills and certifies their desires.

While debating on the matter, Gabane- Mmakgodi based lawmaker Pius Mokgware said the current cabinet is under performing and boring. He observed that most bills which need ample time for debate and consultation with constituents retabled on urgent basis are not good at all. “This under performing ministers’ habit of passing bills so urgent is abuse of this house and it is not healthy for the country and laws of that particular nature will be of low quality,” said Mokgware.

Gaborone Central MP, Dr Phenyo Butale is also fed up with the proceedings observing that of recent cabinet has been out of order by bringing in laws which they want parliament to rubber stamp. He noted that tabling of bills under certificate of urgency has now become subject to abuse by ministers. He added: “We are here to make laws but not just laws but quality laws which now people are compromising with their boring habit. There is a need to craft and pass quality laws which will align to international standards and these lazy cabinet members have no vision, they are failing us as legislators and the nation at large,” charged an emotional Butale.

Francistown South MP, Wynter Mmolotsi said their voice as opposition legislators is taken for granted as the cabinet has full support of numbers from BDP MPs. Mmolotsi pointed out that they should have time to debate the bills and consult with the constituents about the proposed legislations as it used to happen but now things have changed under the current cabinet and administration.

Meanwhile Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Minister Nonofho Molefi said that most of the bills in this current seating forms part of ESAAMLG recommendations. Some of the bills passed under certificate of urgency include among others  Corruption and Economic Crime (Amendment) Bill, Trust Property Control, Customs and Excise Duty Bills, and Judicial Services (Amendment) Bill just to mention a few.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

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.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

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.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

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.

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