Former Speaker, Margaret Nasha laughs off opposition antics
The former National Assembly Speaker, Dr Margaret Nasha who was deposed from her position by the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has laughed off the opposition’s move to protest parliamentary commitee elections.
The outspoken former Speaker of the National Assembly observed that news of a warring Parliament a few weeks after take off ‘is a bad start’.
This week, the opposition walked out of Parliament in protest over what they called the ruling tghe Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s unfair practice in electing members of the Standing Commitees of the National Assembly.
The Opposition led by the Leader of Opposition and its Chief Whip addressed a heated press conference through which they expressed displeasure over the chairmanship of most of the parliamentary commitees.
While the opposition is adamant that it has a case to abandon Parliamentary proceedings, the BDP on the other hand, is of the view that the opposition should understand that they are a party in power. They posit that the opposition should stop being cry babies when democracy unfolds. The BDP has always been of the view that the commitee representation numbers should reflect the number of one’s seats in parliament.
But for Nasha, it is something different. “Moo ke mathata (that one is a problem),” she says after busting out in her trademark laughter after being engaged on the subject.
She continued: “I do not know whom we can bring to this country to tell us that commitee chairmanship is all about choosing a skilled and experienced person who has leadership qualities”.
Nasha observed that nothing exists in a vacuum, “democracy is naturally a clean word and no one should hide behind it to oppress the other.” According to Nasha, failure to acknowledge each other may bring unfortunate situations later. “Members of a committee may disown a committee report if unhappy.
Nasha who said she has not been following closely the proceedings after her loss in the Speaker race said she is constrained to give more insights as people may misconstrue her views as sour grapes or from a bitter loser.
“I am focusing on other things but these are not new things, I have talked about them, they will talk about them and the coming generations. Why didn’t Winter (Mmolotsi) and others warn their new comrades,” she said before laughing uncontrollably.
Nasha however said it is a bad start for Parliament, “it is sad and bad.We can only hope that people will come to their senses.We however cannot at this stage say whether this will be a rebellious parliament or not.”
Nasha advised that both parties should be given a chance to reflect, “We can only make judgements after two or so parliamentary sittings.
After the walk out by opposition MPs, the ruling BDP hurridly moved to protect parliament from being adjourned for lack of forming quorum by calling some of their members who were not in Parliament. A quorum for a sitting of the Parliament or a committee of the whole Parliament is one-third of the number of seats in the Parliament at the time.
The National Assembly Speakers have always warned MPs that the integrity of the House was at stake and appealed to them to honour the House and their positions- as it would reflect badly on the House.
Reached for commet, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando was perplexed at the behaviour of the ruling BDP. “How can you have members of the BDP leading the committees when the committees are meant to provide oversight on the executive. It is illogical,” he said further adding that one cannot police themselves.
Saleshando said parliementary delegations may be rejected on international missions in future if the opposition is shunned. It is understood that a row began over the elections of the members of the Inter Parliamentary Union when the opposition demanded a 50-50 representation.
The Opposition MPs have unanimously agreed to withdraw from all the 23 Parliamentary Committees and 5 Inter-Parliamentary Committees ‘until the ruling party comes to its senses’saying they (BDP) over-dominate the committees despite their backbench being in minority. There are 20 opposition MPs and 15 BDP MPs eligible for these committees.
Slumber Tsogwane, the chairman of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), has effectively ursurped Mpho Balopi’s functions of secretary general. He has also taken over the preparations for the party’s national congress, which is scheduled to be held in August.
The role of the secretary general is to oversee the activities of the party, and according to its constitution, he or she is the accounting officer. Throughout his career, Balopi has been the link between the various structures of the party, including the central committee and sub committees. However, since he has been replaced by Tsogwane, Balopi has become an onlooker.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katholo has revealed why he took a decision to engage private lawyers against the State. The DCEC boss engaged Monthe and Marumo Attorneys in his application to interdict the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) from accessing files and dockets in the custody of the corruption busting agency.
In his affidavit, Katholo says that by virtue of my appointment as the Director General of the DCEC, he is obliged to defend the administration and operational activities of the DCEC. He added that, “I have however been advised about a provision in the State Proceedings Act which grants the authority of public institution to undertake legal proceedings to the Attorney General.” Katholo contends that the provision is not absolute and the High Court may in the exercise of its original jurisdiction permit such, like in this circumstance authorise such proceedings to be instituted by the DCEC or its Director General.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has gone through transformation over the years, with new faces coming and going, but some figures have become part and parcel of the furniture at Tsholetsa House. From founding in 1962, BDP has seen five leaders changing the baton during the party’s 60 years of existence. The party has successfully contested 12 general elections, albeit the outcome of the last polls were disputed in court.
While party splits were not synonymous with the BDP for the better part of its existence, the party suffered two splits in the last 12 years; the first in 2010 when a Barataphathi faction broke ranks to found the now defunct Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). The Barataphathi faction was in the main protesting the ill-treatment of then recently elected party secretary general, Gomolemo Motswaledi, who had been suspended ostensibly for challenging the authority of then president, Ian Khama.