Following the publication of qualifications for Members of Parliament, there has been a public debate on whether there should be a minimum qualification entry or not for Mps.
The debate tarted after it had emerged that some MPs only had Junior Cambridge certificate, Cambridge certificate, Mechanical engineering and various workshop attendence certificates.
The Voice Staffer, DANIEL CHIDA interviewed on the issue with different politicians to get their view on the matter.
Former National Assembly Speaker, Dr Margret Nasha:
I can confirm that this debate has been on since the 8th or 9th Parliament.
The bottom line is that there is indeed a large body of the populace who support the move.
But those who were vigorously opposed to the idea were probably much more forceful in pushing their ideas, fears and beliefs, even suspicions of sabotage, to the extent of forcing the other camp into submission.
One of their points of view was that some of those of their colleagues who went only as far as primary or early secondary school level were effective foot soldiers.
They pulled crowds and were excellent at recruiting members to their fold.
Like the late Rre Merafe used to say ” if it ain’t broke, why fix it?”. The truth of the matter though is that, if the time is not ripe yet, I don’t know if it will ever be.
Our laws are written in the usual difficult convoluted English of yesteryear.
There is always the risk of passing laws and approving policies without in-depth interrogation.
Mind you, making and passing laws is one of the core responsibilities of an MP.
When Members attend meetings of the Commonwealth, African Parliament etc, they are expected to be active participants with deep understanding of the issues under discussion.
So, what am I saying? We cannot and should not continue to pretend that it is ok not to prescribe minimum qualifications for Members of Parliament in this day and age.
The trouble is that Batswana still do not attend Parliament to watch the performance of their elected representatives in the House.
If they did, this debate would have been concluded several years ago.
UDC SPOKESPERSON: MOETI MOHWASA
The minimum should be ability to read and write.
Being a representative requires one who is able to carry the aspirations of his constituents.
One who is able to represent his people better?
One might be academically astute but a poor leader and representative.
So it takes a set of qualities to be a leader.
This is not however meant to say we should not acknowledge academic qualifications.
SECRETARY GENERAL FOR ALLIANCE FOR PROGRESSIVES: PHENYO BUTALE
Minimum qualification is needed because if you are not educated, how will you keep up with 20th Century demand and understanding the 4th industrial revolution.
People have many challenges facing their constituencies and need leaders who can articulate issues better.
FORMER CABINET MEMBER AND MP FOR NGAMI: JACOB NKATE
We absolutely need some form of qualifications for our legislators because some are voted based on how they have been assisting in funerals in villages.
We need people who can read and understand the laws of the country.
They must be able to read documents and some of the documents are written in a complex manner.
We do have different levels of dealing with issues but when one cannot deliberate an issue then he/she is handicapped and must not be in parliament.
During my time in parliament we had such people but I don’t want to go deeper because I may end up being vinctimised.
POLITICAL ANALYST: LEONARD SESA
Qualification matters, at least there should be a minimum qualification because all are aspiring to be nominated for ministerial posts.
Level of understanding issues is vital.
Remember we have entered the fourth industrial revolution.
BDP MPs slammed for snubbing civil society budget debate
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has been castigated for ignoring an invitation by Civil Society to analyse and discuss the 2020/21 national budget.
This came to the fore at a consultative meeting hosted for Members of Parliament (MPs) by Civil Society to analyse the budget and determine whether it has the interests of children at heart.
While invitations were sent out to the Speaker of the National Assembly, party headquarters and MP’s offices, the turnout for the budget session was disappointing as only 10 opposition MPs from Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) attended, while the BDP and Alliance for Progressives (AP) were not represented.
The event was graced by Leader of Opposition and Botswana Congress Party President (BCP) Dumelang Saleshando, accompanied by MPs Taolo Lucas, Carter Hikuama, Goretetse Kekgonegile, Pono Moathodi, Motsamai Motsamai and Baratiwa Mathoothe of the BPF.
Various attendants who spoke at the meeting expressed dissatisfaction with the absence of BDP MPs, saying the ruling party showed neither interest nor respect for the Civil Society.
This is against a promise that President, Mokgweetsi Masisi made when he took power to work with unions, media and civil societies.
The Voice Staffer, DANIEL CHIDA spoke to some of those who attended the event to get their views.
BOCONGO CEO, Botho Seboko
It continues to disappoint how some things don’t change. How year in and year out, Parliament after Parliament we continue to lobby members of Parliament, particularly those in the ruling party to work with CEOs to better Botswana.
If one cannot make time to meet with community organisations on very important issues such as the subject today on Children’s rights to Health, Nutrition and proper education we continue to wonder what is keeping them at bay.
However, we hope to work together for Batswana. This parliament is more youthful so we are hoping for robust engagements.
Maun East MP Goretese Kekgonegile
They know very well that the budget lacks commitment to the priorities raised on the SONA last year, they just avoided embarrassment.
MPs from the BDP don’t respect Civil Society Organisations and don’t care about any relationship because they know very well that they have no money to splash on their campaign.
If it was the Private sector/ business community where there are opportunities for corruption deals to be hatched and cut they could have attended in large numbers.
Civil Societies should continue piling pressure on MPs if they want them to push their interests.
You should have influenced the outcome of the general elections by voting for a party that would push your interests by driving meaningful change.
But instead we find ourselves faced with all these problems.
Bobonong MP Taolo Lucas
If this invitation had been sent by the private sector there would have been many BDP MPs in attendance but because civil society organisations have nothing to give them, they won’t bother to attend their events.
BOSASNET Acting Director, Prisca Mokgadi
The BDP should have particularly attended the meeting as it is the party in power.
We expected them to attend this meeting so that they can get feedback and go and implement things at their respective ministries.
They are the party in power and they should be willing to get feedback and insight from Civil Society.
Children’s issues are very important and they must be taken seriously.
Government is talking about change of mindset and we want to see that coming from them.
Mokgadi however thanked the opposition MPs who showed commitment by attending.
Balopi undecided on SG position
Seretse may take Tsogwane head on
The Botswana Democratic Party’s Secretary General, Mpho Balopi is still undecided on whether to defend his seat as the ruling party’s SG or not. In an interview with this publication after the party’s monthly press conference at Tsholetsa House, Balopi said that he was still to decide on whether to take part in the coming party’s National Congress.
“I have not decided yet whether to contest for the SG position or not for now. “Said Minister Balopi.
Balopi’s statement follows allegations that the SG has been asked to not contest by President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
There have been reports of fallout between the President and his SG. When asked to deny or confirm the allegations Balopi responded by stating that he was a BDP member in good standing.
“I am a member in good standing, a member who served only the BDP my entire life, who abides by the dictates of the constitution, the code of conduct, the rules and regulations,” he emphasized and went on to state highlight that he believes in the ideals and values of the BDP and is always willing to serve the party wherever and whenever he is required to do so.
The SG also confirmed to the media that the party had received the former National Campaign Manager, Tebelelo Seretse’s resignation from central committee without prejudice.
There have been allegations that Seretse resigned from the Central committee so that she can work on her campaign to challenge Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane for Chairperson Position but Balopi explained that Seretse had cited the need to focus on her businesses as the reason for her resignation.
Efforts to get Seretse to elaborate on the manner of business she wanted to focus on hit a snag, as she did not respond to messages sent to her phone.
What next for UDC?
Crushed by a technicality, analysts call for evaluation and new leader.
On Wednesday, a five-man bench at the Court of Appeal (CoA) crushed Umbrella for Democratic Change’s (UDC) hope of taking over government from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
The court dismissed, with costs, the Umbrella’s request to challenge the outcome of 14 constituencies at last year’s general elections. The CoA ruled that, according to the Constitution of Botswana, it does not have the jurisdiction to hear such petitions.
The UDC were forced to turn to the CoA after High Court threw out their original petition on the basis the coalition failed to comply with Electoral Petitions procedures.
In light of Wednesday’s ruling, The Voice staffer, DANIEL CHIDA spoke to three Political Analysts to get their views on where the UDC go from here.
PROFESSOR AGREEMENT JOTIA
What makes a distinction between a democracy and any form of government is the respect and honour of the rule of law.
In this case, argumentatively so, the UDC approached the Courts as per the provisions of our democratic process as enshrined within our Constitution and they were given a platform to vent the displeasure.
The Courts listened and ruled. However, whether the ruling is what they expected is a subject for another intellectual engagement.
Moving forward, I take it that the UDC has a mammoth task to go on a journey of self-introspection in terms of making a very critical analysis of what else could have gone wrong during the elections besides the claims of election rigging.
Fundamental to UDC’s critical examination should be on the leadership frontier: what did the leadership do right and where did they blunder? What else could have been done differently and by who?
Going forward, how does the UDC mend the political walls of Jericho? Whom should the UDC associate with going forward and which relationship should they bring to an end?
How do you turn the UDC into a political brand going into 2024?
What do the figures of those masses who voted for UDC mean to the leadership and Botswana’s political platform in general?
These are difficult, uncomfortable and tough questions which demand nothing but logic-driven and fair critical analysis.
All in all, our democracy has never been so challenged before and I guess this is why democracy as a principle of governance is beautiful.
We disagree, challenge and accommodate diversity of opinion.
Botswana is our country – let us move forward to socio-economic and political prosperity despite the fact that some are in grief. With God, our tomorrow will be better!
The UDC ‘s move of taking this matter to court is a sign of democracy on its own but what happened should be a wake up call for IEC in the future. It shows that they must improve and do better.
The UDC members were within their constitutional rights and the outcome shouldn’t be a blow to them but to introspect their movement.
UDC lost on a technicality and this could be based on how they interpreted law.
There are still 2024 elections and bye elections coming along the way.
Another point to be noted from the case is how the President, Mokgweetsi Masisi did not interfere.
When abroad, he made a statement that he was waiting for the outcome just like anybody else and he was prepared to accept the results.
This was a political matter that didn’t need the court to decide.
Batswana rejected UDC and the party should have evaluated the elections to see why Batswana chose the BDP over them.
However, the ruling has brought an end to the matter and it will be laid to rest.
They must take stock of themselves since there is 2024 coming.
When doing introspection, they must also look at their leadership, especially Boko who lead the movement twice but failed to bring the needed results.
Maybe it is time for the BNF to hand over to someone like Prince Dibeela who listens to people.