Parliament should never ever stoop this low again- Matlou
Member of Parliament for Tonota, Pono Moatlhodi tabled an urgent motion on Tuesday requesting the government to allow churches to hold prayers for the month of September to fight COVID-19.
Although the ruling party lead by the Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane were against the motion, it passed. This sparked a lot of debate and The Voice Staffer, DANIEL CHIDA engages different people to get their views on the matter.
No serious country relies on prayer when actual effort and ingenuity is needed. Coronavirus doesn’t need prayer.
It needs people to socially distance and sanitize.
That should be our business.
The next thing is to focus on finding a vaccine.
All hands should be on deck doing these two things- we ought to have debates in parliament about where we will source the vaccine.
As we speak today, Russia reports finding a vaccine and the US and other western nations also seem on course to a vaccine in a few months.
We should then as a country focus on where we will source this, whether we can afford it, who will get the vaccine first, and generally ensuring we do not get left behind as the world moves away from Covid-19.
We should be worried about the world having vaccines soon and our country possibly being one of those declared red zones while the rest of the world moves on.
The thinking that we need prayer is honestly the reason this continent is backward.
We bow down and pray when we should be in labs and following protocols or wheeling and dealing to get our hands on the vaccine earliest.
Prayer will not save you from corona.
And we need to be careful not to now get people congregating so as to pray together even.
Prayer may serve as motivation but has never been and will never be a replacement for actual effort and ingenuity.
I’d focus energy on public education and enforcement of Covid-19 regulations.
We are a praying nation and September has always been a month of prayer anyway.
We do not lack in prayer.
So, I do not think MPs should spend timing discussing declaring a month of prayer on COVID-19.
There are more urgent things around this pandemic that parliament ought to look into.
Motsomi Ndala Marobela – Political Analyst
Botswana is a multicultural society and anchored on the principles of secularism, which separates governance from religion.
In this respect people can, as always, pray on their own or go to their respective churches.
There was really no need to motivate and approve a motion which legislate religious mores in our representative democracy.
Not all Batswana are religious.
It was therefore wrong for both the opposition and ruling party to use parliamentary privilege as a forum to advance religious fundamentalism.
There are burning issues that require urgent attention and concrete solutions than venturing in idealistic speculation.
It would help if our parliamentary representatives were advocating for more funding to university scientists, mass testing, more ventilators, food for the poor, income grants for the unemployed, and protection of the workers against brute exploitation.
It is the primary responsibility of the Speaker to routinely make rulings in any matter that is brought to him, mostly doing so on the fly.
In this instance, he was dithery and felt the need to put it to the house.
It was his catastrophic indecision that brought humiliation to the Honourable House.
MPS then saw themselves having to jump through hoops on utter grandstanding stunts wanting to be seen to be more religious than the rest of us.
I knew that once that matter reached Parliament, the type of irrationality displayed would take over and it did.
I wish to state it on record, I have no qualms with any motion brought to Parliament, but I expect as does the public, for Parliament to be in a position to advise itself about the nation’s priorities and conduct its business like this.
My disappointment with MPs was their insistence that the motion warranted a two hours debate.
The Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration and also MP for Molepolole South and Vice President Kabo Morwaeng and Slumber Tsogwane unsuccessfully sought to impress upon proponents of the motion in question that theirs was neither rejection nor undermining of prayers, but that it didn’t warrant business of Parliament being put aside for two hours for something that one, are agreeable on that it is necessary and secondly that such an arrangement is already in place and not need to expend two hours debating it.
Evidence in the form of a letter by Morwaeng was also presented, that also fell on deaf ears.
The MP wasn’t amenable to withdrawal of the motion by Moatlhodi.
It is a fact that his move was misbegotten for all intents and purposes and shouldn’t have been allowed to hijack the business of the day.
Such a motion should have just followed normal processes and included a totally different day for it to be debated, there was no urgency whatsoever.
MPs should at all times be sensible.
The country is in a crisis economically and amidst a COVID-19 pandemic, I expect them to be seized with matters that give the nation pragmatic solutions.
To behave as they did was ostracism, the proverbial sticking of one’s head in the sand hoping the problems would vapor into thin air.
The National Assembly should keep their eyes on the ball. Critically, MPS should constantly remind themselves that the functions of the House are to consider through debate new laws and changes to existing ones, authorise taxes, and provide scrutiny of the policy and expenditure of the Government.
They were not doing this.
It was as though there was collective temporary parking of brains to pursue a wild goose chase.
With respect, Parliament should never ever stoop this low allowing itself to abandon the core business of the day to pursue a frivolity of political expediency.
It was a clear display by thought leadership that they’ve surrendered and are without cogent solutions and are now telling the nation to pin their answers in hope – and that prayer will be some silver bullet, what a travesty.
The country needs these men and women to apply themselves and give the nation practical solutions, if they can’t they should do the honourable and resign.
We all know God and prayers are important but we mustn’t misuse that.
What happened yesterday was someone trying to play to the gallery.
The opposition thought we would stop them but we just left them to embarrass themselves.
Why waste two hours with something already in place, it was unnecessary.
I thought it was important that as Parliament we stop and recognize the greatness of God and we did.
It is important to understand that the Supreme Law is the Law of God and that means all the Law that we make in the house should be aligned with Supreme Law being the Law of God.
As for whether that means we are leaving COVID-19 in the hands of God, yes we have already but we should also do everything that is humanly possible to contain the spread of COVID-19.
To be honest, this was a duplication of efforts and was unnecessary, September is already a dedicated month of prayer in Botswana for all social ills since the fight against HIV and thanksgiving it was unfortunate that the motion was allowed to be debated.
Churches are already seized with the matter and they are launching the prayer sessions in Sefhare at the end of this month we should really have referred to their letter and moved on but I guess it was political posturing more than anything else.
I go to church, I believe in God and I do pray.
My only gripe is that parliament spent time debating something which is already in place and the church is already seized with.