Mmegi Online :: 'Mr President, please don't be truant'
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Last Updated
Monday 24 September 2018, 15:01 pm.
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'Mr President, please don't be truant'

In his maiden address to Parliament, youthful Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, Phenyo Butale launched a scathing attack on President Khama for his ‘dictatorial tendencies’ and challenged him to stop being truant when parliament is on
By Oarabile Mosikare Tue 25 Nov 2014, 14:26 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: 'Mr President, please don't be truant'








In a scathing attack on President Ian Khama in his maiden speech on the parliamentary floor, Member of Parliament for Gaborone Central, Phenyo Butale dared the President to avail himself in Parliament.

“I wish to state that, President Khama should not only come to Parliament to speak down to us and disappear.

“He needs to attend Parliament. We need to have a Question and Answer session where he will account to this House and be a true member of this House,” said Butale.

Contributing to the State of the Nation Address by Khama, Butale said: “Let me start by thanking the brave and visionary people of Gaborone Central for leading the revolt against Khama’s misrule.  Allow me to thank them, together with their counterparts across the country for frowning upon the Khama-led dictatorship that continues to masquerade as a democracy, while at the same time defiling the core principles of democracy such as the respect for the sanctity of the separation of powers that provide for the independence of parliament.”

Butale said the evidence of the attempt by Khama and his aides to undermine this independence manifested itself “through the recent mischievous, devilish if you like, case that sought to declare Parliamentary Standing Orders unconstitutional and allow the executive to prescribe to the legislature how to conduct its business.”

He demanded to know as Batswana how much taxpayers’ money was wasted in this case and that Khama needs to account for this wastage.

“It is therefore unfortunate the same President who presided over this onslaught, has the audacity to claim the title of a democrat.

“He seeks to hoodwink the unsuspecting nation into believing that he subscribes to the rule of law when he unashamedly and arbitrarily pardoned and reinstated the killers of [John] Kalafatis as if to reward them for carrying out his instructions to his satisfaction.”

He said Khama’s address was uninspiring, divisive and self congratulatory as he had come to expect of the president.

“I wish to highlight the glaring omissions in the speech. President Khama chose to ignore issues around freedom of expression which is foundational to any democracy and facilitative in that it is through it that citizens of this republic can enjoy any other right,” the MP asserted. He continued: “This understanding of this right, which was recognised by the very first UN [United Nations] meeting seems to still elude President Khama and his administration who continue to trample upon media freedom, academic freedom, the right to access information, freedom

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of  association and the right to hold an opinion and share it.

Censorship and intimidation is the order of the day in our academic institutions where professors and other lecturers are harassed and hurled before disciplinary committees for doing their jobs.  The University of Botswana staff, who I met last week, put before me, numerous cases of intimidation and harassment that amount to daylight defilement of academic freedom.”

To buttress his point, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) legislator said two distinguished, world celebrated professors resigned from the new Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) citing related issues.  “What kind of a country is this that does not value professors, fountains of knowledge? How can we aspire a world-class system of education when academics are censored and even deported for doing their jobs?

“It is common course that journalists are arrested and victimised in this country and the private press is a sworn enemy of the State President. “In his address, instead of recognising the role they have played in exposing rampant corruption and looting of state resources, he chose to attack the private media, reprimanding them for not spin- doctoring the truth and showering him with undeserved accolades that presentshim as a Messiah, as is now the norm at the state media.

“We were told that President Khama is a member of Parliament and he attended parliament religiously when he wanted to vote and intimidate his MPs into voting for certain people.

“I wish to state that my view is that President Khama should not only come to Parliament to speak down to us and disappear, he needs to attend Parliament, we need to have a Question and Answer session where he will account to this House and be a true member of this House.

“I wish to state for the record that as a parliamentary democracy, Botswana recognises the oversight role of Parliament and the President, as head of the executive should subject himself to Parliament and account to us.

“The current arrangement is an affront to democracy, a deformity that promotes a culture of impunity and secrecy that is currently plaguing our country.”

He added that Khama needs to come to Parliament to account for the many unfinished projects whose costs of construction continue to balloon.  “I wish to end by putting to you that if you cringe before an injustice and if you cringe before an unjust man, you yourself become unjust and dishonourable,” he concluded.

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