Mmegi Blogs :: The day Mma Nasha crossed the bridge
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Tuesday 13 November 2018, 16:21 pm.
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The day Mma Nasha crossed the bridge

Like many other compatriots of my own country, I had always undermined the popularity of Mma Nasha, the Speaker of Botswana’s National Assembly, until she crossed the bridge. The crossing of the bridge was in a literal sense and this was at Kolobeng River during the 2005 Toyota Desert Race.
By Richard Moleofe Sun 14 Dec 2014, 12:57 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: The day Mma Nasha crossed the bridge








The mood was jubilant and the morale among spectators was very high. The atmosphere was engulfed in excitement and it was all smiles among the thousands who thronged this annual event. As one would expect of our youth, most of them were intoxicated with and therefore could not shy away from exhibiting their “joy”.

The police were in charge of regulating traffic over the bridge as racing cars were cruising below it. The traffic had passed over the bridge unnoticed, albeit at a snail’s pace until Mma Nasha passed by. Unbeknownst to her, she had come to test her popularity. Her government issued black Mercedes Benz was thronged by multitudes, like they did to Jesus on his grand entrance to Jerusalem prior to his crucifixion. Like a pop star, she seemed to enjoy it and she beamed with smiles from ear to ear.

The actual crossing of the bridge was, in fact, a precursor or a herald of the crossing of another bridge in as far as figures of speech may be applied.  To address this very matter, someone may refer to the book, “Madam Speaker, Sir! , written by  Nasha while she served as Speaker of the National Assembly.

When I was invited for the launch of David Magang’s book, Magic of Perseverance in 2008 at Phakalane Golf Club, I remarked that I would wait with much anticipation for Kwelagobe, Mma Nasha and a man known as PHK to publish their memoirs. In the interim, we have had Ray Molomo with his stinging book, Democratic Deficit in the Parliament of Botswana. He was not someone I had not counted amongst the bold and the beautiful, even though he is an academic of significant achievement.

Talking about Daniel Kwelagobe, I would happily offer myself to become his scribe if he is challenged to share with this nation and the world what his journey of democracy has been like. I mean, this is a man who literally grew up in government and no one else can stake the same claim. He has traversed the corridors of power all his life and this makes him a living and outstanding archive.

It seems Molomo’s book (a former Speaker of Parliament) ignited a spark within Mma Nasha to pen her memoirs. On another note, Magang’s book is quite revealing for someone like me who has not been so close to the corridors of power.

But I remember that after the launch of his book some were remarking; ‘ke eng ele gone a bua?’ (why is he saying it now?). Mma Nasha published her own while she was still in government and it seems this has cost her a job as Speaker of the National Assembly. Some are blaming her for not applying wisdom and a little common sense on the matter when taking into account the kind of leader she was really dealing with. But I seem to share different sentiments on the actions of this woman. The timing was just right and in fact this has helped to test the credentials of our democracy. This is one woman who has in the past run the affairs of parliament in a non-partisan approach, without fear or favour and it seems she just wanted to affirm the same with the publishing of her memoirs.

With her actions, and the reactions from other quarters of government, we have a barometer with which we can gauge the maturity of our democracy. Her removal from

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the position that she still aspired to serve in has come as free education to many citizens of this country and the world community at large. It says a lot about us as a nation. Even though we might boast of being the oldest surviving democracy in Africa, it seems we have gone off course on our navigation toward fulfilling true democratic ideals.

Her actions have placed her high on a pedestal as a true democrat.

In them she exercised one of the fundamental values of democracy-freedom of speech-something this is also enshrined in our own constitution.

She is a character who will not succumb to fear or intimidation. In fact, whoever will become the next president should seriously consider adorning her with a medal of bravery (MB), something that even soldiers hardly ever qualify for. I remember the last soldier to get this medal was in 1988 and the fellow had literally not done anything to deserve it besides being left behind during a morning run in Pandamatenga.

He wrestled with a lion and won, we were told. I learnt later in life in my career at BDF that the fellow was found by his instructors under an old toothless lion that was only licking him like ice cream while he was screaming for his mother’s help at the top of his voice.

What will parliament be without Mma Nasha? In one word I would sum it as “boring”, and in a phrase, “a stooge to the Executive”. We already have seen that happening. The ruling BDP wants to usurp power in all the twenty-two parliamentary committees and it seems the current speaker is just too content to see this happen. This is the reason why the twenty opposition MPs decided to stage a walk out of parliament. Above all, for those of us who have only sat in the gallery, we will miss her sense of humour. She dealt with all MPs regardless of party affiliation, like an old school teacher as she corrected their grammar and even the formalities of conducting themselves in parliament.

Had Mma Nasha kept her job, parliament would not be the circus that we see now. Parliament must take itself seriously before the rest of us mortal men and women regard it so. It should not only make pronouncements that it seems a serious institution but it must also act in a serious manner.

It seems the remaining period of this present parliament will be the longest five years without Mma Nasha at the controls. The manner with which the ruling party regards parliament is in one word disdainful and leaves a lot to be desired. Until and unless we are able to put behind us our factional and partisan differences, we will never experience the utopia of true democracy. And that is exactly what this woman has been fighting to achieve and stood in the line of fire for. Unfortunately, those around her perceived her actions differently and their perceptions were and are still tainted by their squinted worldview.

The court cases that followed our rather peaceful but not fair elections are a clear reminder that more is still to come. I must reiterate what I have said in the past and will continue to propagate, that parliament must rise up to the occasion and liberate itself from the shackles of the Executive. And no one can do it on their behalf.

*Richard Moleofe is a

Retired Military Officer (DSM)

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