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Increase constituencies- Kekgonegile

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There is a national outcry of none parliamentary representation of women, people with disabilities, gays and lesbians in parliament.

Outspoken Member of Parliament for Maun East, Goretetse Kekgonegile’s maiden parliamentary contribution this week has not been without controversy.

The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) member’s view to have the number of constituencies increased, left fellow legislators and the public gallery with dropped jaws and social media awash with mixed opinions.

The Voice Staffer, DANIEL CHIDA caught up with the former trade unionist who also called for an inclusive representation that caters for marginalized groups including gays and lesbians.

You have been in parliament for more than four months now, what is your impression?

Being an MP is a tough job with huge responsibilities, long hours and massive expectations from the nation.

I am of the view that the 12th parliament is vibrant and has hit the ground running.

The working relationship is positive, especially with Ministers hence my belief that there will be a significant paradigm shift at the end of 5 years if extreme party partisan politics does not emerge during the course of our term.

You recently responded to the SONA and Budget speeches, what were your talking points?

The SONA didn’t give much indications to where the country will be in the next five years.

No timelines were set on specific issues such as constitutional review, no job targets, no education crisis fixing mechanisms, independence of parliament and others. It was more of ongoing projects progress report.

The budget speech was quite inspirational on a number of sectors and far lacking on others with continuation of BDP fixation on unnecessary excessive military spending at the expense of growing sectors which could add value to the livelihoods of a common person.

Expectation of a transformational and diversification development budget is to spend more on manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, sports and arts, not military assets.

This week you raised a point in Parliament on the need to increase constituencies, explain it further.

The fact remains the load of work of parliamentarians in the North West, Kgalagadi, Ghanzi, Southern, Kweneng and Central is overwhelming.

Given that Batswana may keep direct representation through first past the post electoral system, the delimitation exercise must add at least 15 to the current 57 to make 72 constituencies.

There is a national outcry of non-parliamentary representation of women, people with disabilities, gays and lesbians, which the constitutional and electoral reviews must address through proportional representation of at least 20%, resulting in a hybrid electoral system.

That will add 15 to the 72 and end up with 87 constituencies in the country and that is my view of addressing excessive load of work of some parliamentarians and the out cry of the marginalized groups.

What’s you view on the call to downsize the number of Ministries?

Currently Cabinet makes 40% of the total parliament and 60% of BDP parliamentarians, hence all Cabinet decisions are rubber stamped in BDP caucuses and in parliament.

The arrangement will never be beneficial to any democratic dispensation as it benefits the President in getting his decisions through the structures rather than the country.

Secondly, we are a small economy with a very small population of which our emphasis should be on strong policies and protocols rather than number of people overseeing these protocols and policies. Cabinet must be reduced to at least 18.

The UDC filed a petition against vote rigging and BCP as coalition partners was a bit quiet, why?

It was a UDC petition and handled at UDC level through UDC structures supported by all members.

We are not yet a merger hence structures are led by deployees from individual parties and depending on the project at hand, it may happen that cadres handling one UDC project are deployees from one party as they are leading those structures.

Given the public scrutiny as per your question, maybe going forward we should be cautious that deployment in structures and projects is reflective of all of us.

Is it not because you (BCP) didn’t believe there was ever any rigging?

Even those who didn’t believe that 2019 elections were rigged must have been convinced by the attitude of the IEC by strongly blocking every effort to verify their facts.

I am of the view that we started the process late as pointers show that even the 2014 elections were rigged of which we should have requested for their verification.

At party level, which position are you intending to contest for?

I intend to contest for the Publicity Secretary post though consultations are ongoing.

What is the way forward for the UDC working model?

Political coalitions remain the future of modern day politics but we can’t be coalitions forever, there comes a time when we must talk beyond coalitions otherwise this five year political circle will be our destiny into eternity.

What legacy do you intend to leave behind?

I would love to raise the representation bar high so that in my absence our representation remains good quality.

I also intend to build strong bonds among community institutions for checks and balances, and ensuring better livelihoods for our people.

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Politics

UDC MPs to elect new opp chief whip

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They can go ahead- Moathodi

Members of Parliament for Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) have had enough of their dramatic Opposition Chief Whip, Pono Moatlhodi.

In fact the UDC MPS are so fed up with the charismatic MP’s theatrics in parliament that they are ready to replace him.

Speaking to this publication, five UDC MPs who asked for their names to be withheld complained bitterly that Moatlhodi was often rude, inconsiderate and biased towards them.

“When our views are divergent to the views of the BDP, Moatlhodi takes the ruling party’s side. We have turned into BDP’s laughing stock because of his ridiculous shouting.”

The MPs further alleged that the MP for Tonota’s apparent love for the BDP was not only annoying but also counter productive.

His behavior seems to have pushed his colleagues to the edge as they have even gone as far as reporting him to their Leader of Opposition, Dumelang Saleshando so he could call him to order.

Giving an example of how Moathlodi was working against them, one UDC MP said that when they had demanded to know who had authority at the Ministry of Agriculture between the Minister, Edwin Dikoloti and his Assistant, Beauty Manake as the two had given parliament different and contradicting answers, instead of waiting for government to provide an answer, Moatlhodi stood up and trivialised the UDC’s question, accusing them of being playful.

“When he acted as Deputy Speaker a week ago, he reprimanded one of us using unparliamentarily language and he is always in disagreement with UDC motions and presentations,” said another MP who went further and gave an example of how Moatlhodi had been up against Taolo Lucas’s motion on Social Justice Commission being put to a vote.

DISMISSIVE: Saleshando

“We approached Saleshando three weeks ago during our caucus complaining about Moatlhodi’s behavior and the way he lashes out at us during debates but to our disappointment, Saleshando has decided to sit on our message and not act. We are not taking this lightly and when we come in for the winter session in July we will be having a new opposition chief whip, we cannot continue with someone who doesn’t respect us,” said one MP.

“Whether he decides to leave the Umbrella after we remove him from the seat or he remains a UDC member is up to him, we don’t care about that, we will select a new opposition chief whip, ” added another fed up MP.

However, the leader of opposition has denied claims that Moatlhodi has been reported to him. “I would have acted on it had I been approached but they haven’t done that,” he said.

Meanwhile, Moathodi said that the MPs could go ahead and do whatever they wanted. Before joining the UDC in 2014, PPP as Moatlhodi is fondly known was a BDP member who even became a Deputy Speaker in Parliament.

He then resigned and joined opposition ranks after accusing the BDP of failing to address his grievances following his loss to Thapelo Olopeng in the party’s primary party elections.

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Politics

Plot to overthrow GC mayor exposed

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MAYEPETSA FINGERED AS MASTERMIND

A dubious plan by a group of Botswana Democratic Party councilors to overthrow Gaborone City Council Mayor, Father Maphongo has been exposed.

The group, which is allegedly led by none other than Maphongo’s Deputy, Lotty Manyepetsa, has been plotting the mayor’s downfall for sometime now, sources within the ruling party have claimed.

Information gathered by this publication has further indicated that Manyapetsa in his vigorous efforts to topple the Mayor through a motion of no confidence has established a team of councillors called, ‘Team Lotty’.

According to a reliable source, the group (names withheld) has been working around the clock trying to find a way to sabotage the mayor’s work, so that they can turn around and table a motion of no confidence against him.

“They all know that Maphongo was brought in by President Mokgweetsi Masisi to transform the city and their chances of occupying the seat at the end of the two- year term are very slim as he will be re- elected without a challenge in a compromise deal. They have resorted to sabotage so that he fails dismally,” alleged the source within the party.

The source fingered Manyepetsa as someone who habours, ‘ dangerous ambitions’ to occupy the top council seat and then appoint one of his friends from a BDP faction as his deputy in order to have total control of the city.

“They resent Maphongo for being a businessman and not a politician and feel that he never helped the party in any way during general elections and therefore did not deserve to be the Mayor,” stated the source, who also revealed that a WhatsApp group was created and councilors added only for those who raised objections to the plot against the mayor to be unceremoniously removed.

However, when asked if he was aware of the plot, Maphongo was cagey with information but confirmed that he had been ‘tipped off’

“Please this is an internal issue which, if true will be dealt with internally and not through the media,” said Maphongo in his curt response.

Meanwhile, Manyapetsa denied lusting after Maphongo’s positing.

“Maphongo is going to finish his term, I support him a lot. People who told you that are not well.” Manyepetsa said.

When confronted with a screenshot from the Whatsapp group alleged to have been started with the sole purpose of plotting the Mayor’s downfall, the Deputy Mayor said that the group was for regional elections campaign.

Both Maphongo and Manyepetsa made it to the council as specially nominated councillors.

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