Parliament was forced to adjourn early last Friday, two hours before its scheduled time, after legislators disappeared during tea break.
Although none of them have confirmed their reasons for their absence, it is our view that they were protesting against a ruling by Deputy Speaker Kagiso Molatlhegi not to allow an urgent motion to be debated.
The motion in question was to be tabled by Francistown West Ignatius Moswaane seeking to ask parliament, or government to investigate latest developments at Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC). His argument was that the ongoing retrenchments at BNYC are marred in corruption, and that legal procedures have been flouted.
The motion was initially scheduled to be tabled on Friday, February 27, but there was apparent resistance from the Deputy Speaker Kagiso Molatlhegi. However, he has insisted that he never blocked the motion, and has accused MP Moswaane of failure to follow laid down procedure on tabling a motion. Moswaane on the other hand was adamant that he followed procedure to bring the motion to the floor. The motion was not in the Friday Order Paper. What the parties ought to understand is that the National Assembly is a forum through which legislators can perform their oversight mandate on the Executive.
This is the only place where the public can have a glimpse into what is happening in public institutions, how national resources are being distributed and utilised, and most importantly, whether there are no individuals who are abusing State resources.
Urgent motion(s) are not a new thing in the National Assembly, and they have previously been given a chance, debated and defeated, or agreed upon. During the Ninth Parliament in 2007, former Francistown South MP Khumongwana Maoto tabled an urgent motion requesting government to halt privatisation of Air Botswana since there were suspiciously corrupt activities surrounding the transaction. He presented his findings before the House, supported by evidence and the House adopted his motion and the privatisation was halted.
We still have Air Botswana as the national carrier to this day. In a nutshell, Parliament should safeguard the State resources and its rules should be flexible to allow MPs to debate motions and adopt or reject them. MPs, on the other hand, should not behave as if they are always waiting for a slight provocation to use as a scapegoat to walk out of the National Assembly. This parliament meeting is only second after they were voted into the House last year.
They still have four years (25 meetings) left before the next general elections. They should just take it easy and engage in a professional manner.
“Parliament of the country is the repository of the sovereign will of the people, and its successful functioning is a joint responsibility of both the government and the Opposition.”
- Pratibha Patil