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BDP walk out on UDC motion



BDP Chief Whip says Lucas was not yielding

Last Friday there was drama in Parliament as Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislators walked out of parliament in what was viewed as an effort to collapse the quorum and frustrate Member of Parliament for Bobonong, Taolo Lucas, who was tabling a motion calling on government to establish a social justice commission.

The motion read in part: “That this Honourable House requests Government to establish a Social Justice Commission to help address the acute levels of inequality in the country, equalize the opportunity structure, promote inclusiveness and advocate, protect or safeguard the interests and welfare of the marginalised sections of society.”

Led by the Vice President who is also the Leader of the House, Slumber Tsogwane, BDP members who were few in numbers defied the Speaker’s orders to sit down as they filed off and left parliament.

The Voice Staffer DANIEL CHIDA spoke to opposition MPs and the Chief Whip, Liakat Kablay on what really transpired.

Bobonong MP, Lucas:

The import of the motion was that levels of inequality in Botswana were too high; that we have just too few people wallowing in obscene opulence and just too many citizens live in debilitating poverty.

I indicated among other things that the World Bank places Botswana among the top 5 unequal nations in the World.

I also indicated that whilst the national poverty prevalence stands at 16.3%, Kweneng West poverty prevalence rate stood at 50.6%, Ngwaketse West (40.3%), Kgalagadi South (39.5%), Ghanzi (36.3%) and Ngamiland West (33.4%).

I argued that the national poverty prevalence of 16.3% conceals the extent of poverty in many regions of the country.

It was at this point that VP Tsogwane showed a lot of discomfort and he interrupted my presentation with points of order and procedure.

I continued my presentation and focused on inequalities of land ownership.

I told the House how some people are without a residential plot while a few owned huge chunks of land.

As I nailed this point, BDP members started leaving. The Speaker asked their Chief Whip Kablay to call them back but he also never returned.

Eventually the BDP collapsed the quorum so they could regroup to oppose the motion next week.

I was disappointed but not shocked. The BDP is not ready for prime time.

They are not ready for transformation. Come today, Friday, they will be pursued again. They can’t hide.

Francistown South MP, Wynter Mmolotsi:

Apparently the BDP bench had fewer numbers than the opposition in the house which meant that Lucas’s motion was going to be adopted contrary to their will.

The only option they had was to run away which they did so that the motion can be rescheduled to be discussed when BDP is in majority. It is very irresponsible of the ruling party to break quorum just for their personal interests.

Ngami MP, Carter Hikuama:

I heard they were instructed to walkout. This proves BDP MPs only serve the BDP leadership not the electorates who elected them.

DISAPPOINTED: Carter Hikuama

It also demonstrates how they care less about nurturing our democracy. To them being in power is just about their personal lives not anything else

Maun West MP, Goretetse Kekgonegile:

It’s a big concern because that it how they kill opposition motions.

CONCERNED: Goretetse Kekgonegile

They collapse quorum deliberately and on Friday they killed discussions on Taolo’s good motion. They need to be called out.

Leader of Opposition and Maun West MP: Dumelang Saleshando

BDP did not have the numbers to defeat the motion. They were instructed to walk out so that the debate ends.

LEADER OF OPPOSITION: Dumelang Saleshando

I think they will come in their numbers this coming week to debate and defeat the motion

Serowe North MP, Baratiwa Mathoothe:

During the presentation of the motion BDP MPs realized that they were the minority in parliament and lacked fire power, so they were in fear that the motion would pass, hence they decided to walk out to collapse the quorum.

DISAPPOINTED: Baratiwa Mathoothe

Their mission is to have the motion presented in the coming week when they will be having the numbers.

The issue that was raised by the chief whip that MP Lucas was refusing with clarification is not true because he gave the Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane more time to ask questions.

They asked unnecessary things to take all time allocated for his presentation.

Chief Whip, Liakat Kablay: It is true that our members left the house when Lucas was in the floor but were not collapsing the quorum. Lucas was not yielding for them when they wanted clarity during his presentation.

In parliament when another member of the house interjects, you yield and allow that person to ask a question or commend you but he was refusing.

The MPs then decided to leave as they found no need to be in parliament.

After they left, I followed them to get the answer and I gave the Deputy Speaker the response.

We have been supporting motions brought by opposition members but unfortunately Lucas was not cooperative.

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HE’s trip raises temperatures



HE's trip raises temperatures

On Tuesday morning, President Mokgweetsi Masisi flew to Harare for an Extraordinary Summit of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security.

HE was invited by the current SADC Chairperson, Emmerson Mnangagwa, with the Zambian and Mozambique Presidents, Edgar Lungu and Filipe Nyusi also in attendance.

According to Office of the President, it was decided that a face-to-face meeting was necessary considering the sensitivity of the issues up for discussion.

However, this did not go down well with many Batswana, who labeled the trip unnecessary and accused Masisi of failing to lead by example.

Having already been quarantined twice, although it only lasted a day, the Zimbabwe trip means Masisi is now set for a third 14-day stint in quarantine.

The Voice Staffer, DANIEL CHIDA talked to various leaders and political analysts to get their take on Masisi’s foreign escapades.

HE's trip raises temperatures
Moeti Mohwasa – UDC Head of Communications

While the UDC acknowledges and appreciates the importance of international cooperation, it is disturbed by the President’s inability to balance that with the threat that international travel poses to the nation’s health and in particular the outbreak and control of Covid-19. Our President currently ranks high amongst the leaders who have breached or disregarded the rules they have set for their people!

It is unfortunate that our leader prefers to always hide in quarantine at a time when we need his visibility in the fight against Coronavirus.

In the light of the current situation it would have been prudent for President Masisi to participate through Zoom or Skype.

This would have sent a strong message about his full commitment to the fight against the virus.

We need leaders who don’t just say ‘do as I say’ but also lead by example.

What Masisi is saying to the nation is that you can just breach the Covid-19 regulation as you wish as long as you are prepared to be subjected to 14-day quarantine. This is wrong.

HE's trip raises temperatures
Biggie Butale – BPF President

These Presidential trips to Corona-challenged countries in the middle of a crisis seem to indicate a President with mixed priorities.

We have lost our CEO for 42-days due to him being unnecessarily quarantined during Botswana’s greatest ever hour of need.

I wonder what would have happened if we could have been without the Director of Health for this long although the President is a higher decision maker.

Maybe his presence or absence is immaterial?

Perhaps the question to ask is why the President feels it absolutely urgent to attend meetings that are not life-and-death matters whilst leaving life-and-death matters in his own backyard?

Could it be we have the absolutely wrong person as CEO who does not understand that we as a country might be entering an apocalyptic period of our existence?

Could it be that he is running away from the pressure? Could it be that he is just overwhelmed?

Kebapetse Lotshwao – Political Analyst
Ideally, the President should not be going to Zimbabwe.

However, the realities on the ground dictate that he goes.

The first reality is the fact that Botswana is the incoming chair of SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security.

As incoming chair, Botswana has to work closely with the current and previous chairs.

Secondly, there are threats to peace and stability in the region, particularly in Mozambique and Lesotho.

These threats have to be resolved, and by their sensitive nature may require face-to-face discussion to avoid infiltration.

HE's trip raises temperatures
Tobokani Rari – BOFEPUSU Secretary General

Truly speaking leaders should lead by example.

The standards set cannot be enforced for the ordinary citizens to the exception of those in positions of power; that would be terrible as this would mean they are some above the law.

Honestly I tried to listen to the reasons advanced by Press Secretary to the President, Batlhalefi Leagajang to justify the President’s need to physically attend the Zimbabwe meeting, but I could not be convinced.

Elsewhere in Africa, South Africa to be specific, and President Ramaphosa suspended a Minister for breaking the Covid Protocol – that shows exemplary leadership!

HE's trip raises temperatures
Phenyo Butale – AP Secretary General

Governments all over the world have stopped movements to control the Coronavirus pandemic.

It would appear the government of Botswana has only done this in writing, as in practice they do the opposite.

Where pressing matters are/were to be discussed we have seen Heads of State using teleconferencing to conduct their meetings.

For instance, The East African Community has held several teleconference meetings about Covid-19 and other issues of concern.

The continental body, African Union (AU) has also been holding meetings and conducting its business, through teleconferencing facilities.

Just two weeks ago, President Masisi participated in a meeting of SADC leaders held via teleconference.

Further afield, the 46th G7 summit, which was scheduled to be held next month in Camp David, United States, will now be conducted by video conference.

It is worrisome that the President does not learn even from such a growing trend among world leaders and the global community.

We have in the recent past, communicated our displeasure on the President’s conduct of flouting with impunity the Covid-19 rules and regulations.

This continued violation of the regulations puts a strain on the efforts of officers charged with enforcing them.

Up to today, no one, not even the President himself, can adequately account for the Namibia trip save to say ‘it was for a damn good reason’.

For a Government that parrots 4IR [Fourth Industrial Revolution] at any given opportunity this is an embarrassing form of doublespeak.

We are concerned about the government’s growing reputation of saying one thing and doing the exact opposite.

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The back bench that came to the party



The back bench that came to the party

MPs Healy, Greeff’s impressive input during (COVID 19) debate

After a successful 28 – day-extreme distancing protocol to curb the spread of the novel Corona Virus, President Mokgweetsi Masisi called another emergency parliamentary meeting this week for Members of Parliament to debate the motion on the affirmation of the Emergency Powers (COVID -19) (Amendment) (No.4) 2020 Regulations.

The Voice Staffer, DANIEL CHIDA followed the Boipuso Hall broadcast on national television and watched from the comfort of his home as the backbenchers put on a sterling performance.

Member of Parliament for Francistown West, Ignatius Moswaane and Mephato Reatile of Jwaneng Mabutsane were in their element as usual but it was the underdogs, Christian Greeff, of Gaborone Bonnington South and Tumisang Healy of Gaborone Central who took many by surprise with their impressive contributions to the debates.

The two have been too quiet in parliament before but below is what they said yesterday much to the delight of many.

The back bench that came to the party

“My constituency is the most affected. Out of 15 974 households assessed, only 1 540 have been given food and this is not even 50% of the population of the constituency. The worst part is that majority of the people in places like Phase 4 and Block 9 were overlooked simply because their houses look decent. The constituency is dominated by informal sector being taxi and cab drivers, driving schools and vendors and it will be a good idea to open up for them to start their operations within COVID-19 protocols because by so doing we would offload the burden of social welfare provision from government. Our electricity tariff has also gone up and donating food only is not enough and therefore I call on the President to intervene concerning that.”

The back bench that came to the party

“I am against the idea of people having to foot their own hotel quarantine bills as part of the amendments have suggested. This would be a major setback in fighting this virus because we have been doing very well so far with government catering to the needs of the sick and suspected patients. It would be best if we continue with the system that we have in place as it has given us positive results so far. Since we have been encouraging people to work from home, there should be provisions of laptops in their hampers to assist with that. I am also against the idea of food distribution but suggest that we credit money into COVID 19 debit cards for people to buy groceries for themselves.

My constituency has complied with lockdown restrictions very well so I suggest that we relax some of the restrictions a bit and allow the sale of alcohol. Bottle Stores should be allowed to trade and deliver to their clients. Alcohol is consumed by adults. I therefore expect them to be responsible to make better decisions for their own safety. Regarding the opening of businesses, it will be helpful to have Safety Health and Environment (SHE) officer to monitor and make sure that all the required procedures are adhered to. SHE officers should be the ones helping in taking temperatures of customers and making sure clients are wearing masks and keeping their hands clean. However, I thank government for recognising the disabled people and exempting them from all the COVID- 19 protocol requirements.”

The back bench that came to the party

“We have to come up with a timeline for all food hampers to be distributed. We cannot have people locked in their homes for five weeks without food and pretend that everything is going accordingly. I want to notify this house, especially Minister Molale (Local Government and Rural Development) that his officers are not giving him a true picture of what is happening on the ground. We have an acute shortage of social workers and this makes the process of assessing and distributing food very slow. Another issue that needs to be solved is the dispute between landlords and tenants as there has been no clear picture on what is going to happen during this time. Informal sector has been left out too and it is time we introduced a grant to assist small and medium enterprises to recover from the adverse effects of COVID 19.

The back bench that came to the party

“I have a problem with how the zones were demarcated because most of the workers from Jwaneng Mine commute from Kanye and it will mean applying for a permit all the time as they will be travelling from one zone to another everyday. Our President should advise landlords that by not collecting rentals, they would have contributed to the COVID-19 Fund like other businesses. I also ask that after the 8th to 15th phase of the lockdown, we must do away with zones and allow free movement.”

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