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Paliament passes motion to give MPs cars

Staff Writer
Parliament has passed a motion calling on the government to provide MPs' constituency offices with resources and facilities like vehicles.

The motion was passed on Friday after an attempt by Assistant Minister of Health, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri to change it to read that government should consider the provision instead of government should provide was defeated in a vote. During debate, the mover of the motion, Kanye North legislator, Calvin Batsile and a host of MPs rejected the proposed amendment. Gordon Mokgwathi of Letlhakeng East recalled that in the early 1980s, a motion calling on the government to consider building a senior secondary school in Okavango took nearly 30 years to be implemented. He asserted that the word 'consider' does not compel government to act. He said Parliament should be an independent body that can provide for itself without pleading for help from government. "Do we need to come to Parliament to plead with the government to support the motion?"

The questioned. "It could have been neater if the top management  of the National Assembly could have looked at this issue thoroughly," he said.

Mokgwathi feels that there is a need to provide the constituency offices with vehicles and other facilities to make MPs work easier. "For us to be able to serve the community well there must  be a vehicle.  Somebody has to move around collecting the necessary data," he said.

He added that the administrative personnel at MPs' constituency offices are supposed to be researchers, but they do not have the necessary tools.  He said even the computers in their offices do not have the software to do analysis. 

The MP for Kweneng East, Moeng Pheto said it was very difficult to operate in a vast area with bad roads when there is no transport. Pheto said the MPs are supposed to reach people in every corner of their constituencies.

He told Parliament there is a wrong perception that MPs are rich because they use their own vehicles for official duties. He asserted that MPs spend so much of their resources on official duties that by the time they retire, they become destitute. He stated that when there is an official event

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in a rural constituency, the council chairman and the council secretary would be driven to the meeting in their official vehicles, while the MP would use his or her own car. He said there are no parking spaces reserved for MPs during official functions.

Ronald Ridge of Maun West suggested that the government should be instructed and not requested to provide the facilities.

Vice President and MP for Mahalapye North,  Mompati Merafhe opposed the motion and berated legislators for being unproductive. He said Parliament  has been sitting for six weeks, but no single legislation has been passed. "We are leaders and we must lead by example.  The nation is putting us under a microscope.  They are asking what kind of leaders we are.  We are not productive because we  tend to be irrelevant to issues on the table," he said.

"Let's not attract negative attention to ourselves.  Let us try and summon our conscience," he pleaded.

He said that MPs need for vehicles should not be a subject of discussion because there are many Batswana who have no transport. He told Parliament that this is why the government  has come up with a policy that  every village must be provided with a vehicle. 

"We are not unsympathetic to the request for vehicles, but we are saying, let's prioritise.  Let us learn to provide those who are really in need," said Merafhe who dismissed the motion as superfluous. 

Another motion by the MP for Gaborone Central, Dumelang Saleshando calling for the amendment  of Trade Unions and Employer's Organisations Act,  the Police Act, the Prisons and other related Acts, was deferred because the  ministers dealing with the departments  were not in Parliament. The motion calls for the amendment  of the Acts to allow members of the Botswana Police Service, Local Police and Botswana Prison Services to unionise.

The MP for Francistown South, Khumongwana Maoto  tabled a motion which calls on the government  to exempt expenses by parents or guardians on their children's education from taxation. The motion will be debated this Friday.



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