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Floor-crossing bill undemocratic - DK

Staff Writer
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) chairman Daniel Kwelagobe has accused government of trying to impede on the people's right to choose and associate through the Local Government Bill, which is against floor-crossing.

Kwelagobe, debating a motion on the bill yesterday in parliament said that it is undemocratic especially as it seeks to bar councillors from crossing from one party to another. He said the bill is against the spirit of the constitution of Botswana, which promotes the right of an individual to associate.

"Ke ipotsa gore gatwe go riling batho ba kgorelediwa go expressa their feelings by floor-crossing," said Kwelagobe.

When the sponsor of the bill, Lebonaamang Mokalake, who is also Local Government Minister asked Kwelagobe if he is also considering the people who voted for him, the latter responded, "I don't know what the minister is saying. If I leave to join the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), I don't leave my constituents. I still remain their representative, representing their interests," he said.

He said there are instances where one may be forced to leave the party especially if faced with persecution from some party members. He said there is no logic in the Local Government Bill.

Kwelagobe said government

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should be concerned about members of parliament and councillors who are not performing and not representatives who cross the floor. He said if councillors are fired for crossing the floor this will create a serious financial dent in government coffers, as there will be a lot of by-elections.

BDP MPs such as Fidelis Molao and Prince Maele also said they will not support the bill. Molao even went further to say that no amount of cajoling will change his mind about the bill.

Molao said the Local Government Minister already has too much power in his hands such that he could wake up and abolish councils.

Former local government junior minister Kentse Rammidi was equally against the bill and called for government to concentrate on decentralisation and efficient service to communities.Rammidi said Mokalake wants to have more power over local councils. 

"The bill does not capture what the BDP manifesto addresses, which is strengthening effective local government," he said.Rammidi said his party's manifesto promotes local government democracy.



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