MPs break down the latest parliamentary sitting
On Friday 3 September, after almost two months of non-stop debate, in which time Botswana’s political leaders discussed, often heatedly, how best to take the country forward, the winter session of Parliament came to an end.
It was a sitting that saw 19 Bills passed into law, making it one of the busiest sessions in recent history……but was it a case of quantity over quality?
The Voice’s, DANIEL CHIDA caught up with Members of Parliament from across the political divide to get their views on the eight weeks that made up the third meeting of the second session of the 12th Parliament.
Ignatius Moswaane – MP for Francistown West, BPP
Parliament failed to address the Covid-19 challenges; it was the most problematic session where Botswana Democratic Party displayed its arrogance without hesitation.
We passed laws which disempowered the poor, more especially the informal business sector.
We took a decision to stop the informal sector from selling cigarettes, something that is sold by 90 percent of the informal sector. SOPE might end at anytime soon but we have no enacted laws that will manage the pandemic.
I heard we have to emphasize on public education but the question is how because it has always been difficult for majority of Batswana to discipline themselves.
The first incident after opening for a bit of entertainment proved that we may end up getting another SOPE extension.
Goretetse Kekgonegile – MP for Maun East, BCP
This sitting was very long with heavy load of work and was extended by a week which means our planning is lacking. 12th parliament is extremely loaded given high number of laws and policies that need to be refreshed and reviewed.
Deliberating 21 Bills, 3 Policies, 50 questions and 5 motions in 7 weeks is extraordinary! I believe parliament sitting duration needs to reconcile with the load of work.
As usual our parliament is highly partisan as BDP uses its numbers to push Cabinet agenda and sabotaging opposition ideas which kills parliament autonomy.
Some of the policies and Bill’s passed are progressive but we can do better as a country. Opposition did well to expose BDP corruption in terms of Moremi and Tautona Lodge land deals.
With SOE coming to an end, real work starts as Constitutional review, census, delimitation, bye elections, review of labour laws, new ISPAAD must come before parliament discussions.
Taolo Lucas – MP for Bobonong, BCP
The winter session of Parliament will be remembered for the number of Bills passed by Parliament and not so much the quality of such Bills.
More than a dozen Bills were presented to Parliament and they were adopted but the extent to which such Bills will enhance our democracy and improve the quality of life of our people is questionable.
Significant Bills that were passed include the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Amendment law, Public Procurement Law, Economic Inclusion Law and the Tobacco Law.
Amendments proposed mainly by the opposition were rejected by the ruling party.
These laws were passed with glaring deficiencies! I personally proposed an amendment to the Public Procurement bill seeking to exclude the President and his executive from taking part in public tenders.
The amendment was rejected, giving way to corruption by the ruling elites.
MPs also asked very piercing questions that exposed the ineptness and frailties of the government.
Questions on the use of Foreign Reserves, land management, Covid-19 procurement, Tautona Lodge and government acquisition of land in Okavango badly exposed the government.
The winter Parliament in short provided the people of Botswana valuable lessons on the workings of our democracy and economy.
It showed that the BDP is big in numbers but painfully lacking in the quality of ideas.
Liakat Kablay – MP for Letlhakeng/Lephephe, BDP
We had a very productive session with lot of questions and motions. Also there were some Bills and Policies we covered.
Most of the Bills we did justice to them as most of them were our promises during our campaign in 2019.
Although some of the Bills we did not agree with our party MPs and opposition, we made sure that they sail through as they will help the lives of Batswana.
I was very happy by Disability Policy since this policy was long overdue. It was postponed from 10th parliament.
But I am happy because it will help people with disability. The disabled have been complaining of being left behind by government.
I have even said in my contribution that Batswana should learn to stay with these people because they are human like them.