Mmegi Blogs :: Goodbye 2016, hello 2017
Last Updated
Monday 24 September 2018, 15:01 pm.
Goodbye 2016, hello 2017

The year 2016 has been a very busy one for Parliament. Policies and laws have passed through Parliament and not passed by the legislature.
By Dithapelo Keorapetse Fri 23 Dec 2016, 12:26 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: Goodbye 2016, hello 2017

In all cases, the ruling party caucus instructed its MPs on how to deal with issues and used its majority to rubber stamp executive policy and law decisions. The opposition has tried everything possible with little or no success in preventing Parliament from being used to pass bad laws. The opposition has proved beyond doubt that they are a no push over, that no bad law or decision will go unchallenged in the House or outside.

The year began with an official launch of the Economic Stimulus Programme in Machaneng by the President. The idea was presented as an economic decision which will result in a stimulated economy and job creation amid tough economic challenges.

Almost a year later, the President cannot fully account on how the economy has been stimulated in terms of figures. He claims that 18, 000 jobs have been created but refuses to unpack these 'jobs' and explain how many of these are sustainable jobs, how many were temporary or casual and the sectors where these jobs were created. In the absence of these explanations, it may well be that no long term jobs have been created by or under the ESP.

One of the ruling party MPs and Foreign Minister has been buys campaigning for the position of African Union Commission in what many feel is a waste of time and resources. It is argued by pessimists of Botswana-Africa relations that the country's President hasn't attended a single AU Summit of Heads of State and Government, that Botswana is domesticating the Rome Statute at a time when Africa is withdrawing from The Hague based Court and that the rooftop adversarial diplomacy of the President are reasons enough to reject the Botswana candidate.

This year, the 11th Parliament made history by having a sitting which lasted nearly 15 hours. The main reason was that the government sought and managed to squeeze in five Bills and that the opposition attempted to fatigue the ruling party into backing down. Among the laws passed was the Ministerial Offices increase, Constitutional amendment Bill to increase specially elected MPs from four to six, the Electoral Act amendment Bill to inter alia introduce Electronic Voting Machine (EVMs) and the Trade Disputes Act amendment Bill to among others declare many categories of Wokers essential service. This sitting was proof enough that Parliament is where the ruling party seeks to do as it pleases and that it has disregard for requirements of making laws for the good order and governance of the Republic.

It is on this year that the Speaker of the National Assembly was issued with two statutory notices of intentions to sue her over her prejudicial and unlawful decisions. One relates to the suspension of MPs and the other is about the expunged statement of the Leader of Opposition (LOO). The cases will be a litmus test on the conduct of the Speaker


and somewhat the independence of the courts.

In September, the country threw a big exorbitant 50th birthday party. The golden jubilee party cost P113 million and parliament is seized with holding the government accountable on the spending spree. Evidence of imprudence, mismanagement and corruption is beginning to emerge. After the party, the country is still faced with challenges of unemployment, poverty and income and wealth disparities, lack of access or basic services and the economy that is in the hands of foreigners and naturalized citizens. Was the spending spree necessary?

The government finally decided to close BCL  around October in what is clearly the biggest fraud in 21st century Botswana. The reasons for closure have been successfully rebutted and it is now clear that the decision is an attempted theft of BCL diamonds and its other assets like the ore deposits and the smelter plant.

The diamonds will be given to friends and relatives and the mine itself will be sold at a very cheap price to close associates. The former employees have been condemned to poverty and despair. Just after the BCL liquidation drama, Parliament convened to deal with the National Development Plan 11 (NDP 11). The plan was rubber-stamped regardless of strong dissent by the opposition. The highlight of the debate was the plan to buy fighter jets that will cost the taxpayer some billions of Pula. Whilst Parliament was debating the NDP 11, a sole opposition female MP Same Bathobakae died. It was the saddest moment since 2014 and a huge setback in opposition politics.

After the funeral of the Iron Lady of opposition politics, President Khama reconvened Parliament for his State of the Nation Address. The speech was the dullest and most hollow since 2008. The President seemed to be detached from reality and appeared to be in a speed to finish and leave the chamber.

Opposition parties are on the verge of concluding their talks on facing the ruling party as one formidable unified force in 2019. The year 2017 will be more action packed in Parliament. However, few or no motions will be debated because top of the agenda is the opposition motions. The ruling party strategy is to use their numbers to kill the quorum.

The fear is to debate opposition motions seeking to address real challenges of Batswana. The thinking is that the opposition would gain mileage out of these. It is going to be a tougher year for the opposition in Parliament and for Batswana in general, their aspirations may not be public policy or law.

The ruling party internal wars of succession have reached Parliament and government and 2017 will be more interesting. Tshekedi Khama has effectively dismissed the chairperson of Statutory Bodies Committee as an emissary of a faction and nothing more. The year 2017 will be politically intriguing. I wish the reader a merry Christmas and a prosperous 2017.

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Views From The House
Fri 23 Dec 2016, 12:26 pm
Fri 16 Dec 2016, 16:48 pm
Fri 09 Dec 2016, 15:05 pm
Fri 02 Dec 2016, 15:49 pm
Fri 25 Nov 2016, 17:36 pm
Fri 18 Nov 2016, 14:38 pm
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