Poor quality of debates in Parliament

The first meeting of the Second Session of the 11th Parliament has been characterised by poor debates by Members of Parliament.

A troubling trend is that of cabinet ministers who do not bother to attend to the House to answer questions from the MPs. Since the delivery of the State of the Nation Address (SONA) by President Ian Khama, some ministers have not been attending Parliament and many questions have not been unanswered. When the ministers answer questions they are very evasive and angry. Some of them are not afraid to mislead Parliament. The worst culprits are special elected MPs, who forget that they have not entered Parliament by popular vote but were handpicked by Khama and given plump cabinet positions. These ministers offer poor quality answers and can be very arrogant.

Last Friday, an opposition legislator posed a number of topical questions during Ministers’ Question Time session. MP Ndaba Gaolathe had asked the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo on the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP), National Development Plan 11 and Vision 2036.

Gaolathe also wanted Matambo to state how much was envisaged to be spent cumulatively when the ESP ends, how much additional jobs will be created, and how many companies are likely to benefit. The response was disappointing to say the least.

In response Matambo said he could not give an amount or quantum of the ESP because it was premature to do so. This is despite the fact that the ESP is the new song of the government. During the SONA, the ESP was mentioned every time by the President.

This despite the assurance by vice president Mokgweetsi Masisi who recently told the Botswana Job Summit that by the end of this month, construction companies should be on site. Should it be assumed, therefore that this was a big lie told by the VP? Matambo’s evasive answers to Gaolathe have rendered Masisi a leader fond of being economic with the truth.Still on the ministers’ unbecoming attitude, a few days ago, Francistown South legislator, Winter Mmolotsi clashed with the Minister of Education and Skills Development, Unity Dow, over the suspension of Matsha College school head.

Describing the suspension as “unfortunate” Mmolotsi said Dow instead should have been suspended instead of “making the poor school head the scapegoat of her failures”. Instead of addressing Mmolotsi on why the school head was suspended, Dow accused the legislator of seeking newspaper headlines. This is the minister who was rejected by Mochudi East electorates last year but came to Parliament through a backdoor.  This is typical of answers often provided by ministers. They can afford to take Batswana for granted because the Speaker Gladys Kokorwe and her deputy, Kagiso Molatlhegi, protect them.

Today’s thought

“Now that I have asked the questions for you, so you do your analysis, you young ones on whose shoulders the future of the country rests.”


– Ndaba Gaolathe

Editor's Comment
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