Ntlo ya Dikgosi (House of Chiefs) is expected to reject or accept the Amendment Bill seeking to increase the number of Specially Elected Members of Parliament from four to eight today. Yesterday, a number of paramount chiefs spoke strongly against the bill saying it is not necessary.
Balete paramount chief, Mosadi Seboko rejected the proposed law saying that it came at the wrong time, when government has stated that the economy is not doing well and development projects have been cut down. She rejected some of the reasons advanced for the increase of MPs such as catering for representation of people with disabilities, youth and women in Parliament. She said that it is the duty of the leaders to engage the disadvantaged members of society and they should start doing so. She called for the current four slots of Specially Elected MPs to be allocated to women with a professional background hence there is no need for a constitutional amendment.
Barolong paramount chief, Lotlamoreng Montshiwa joined his Balete colleague in rejecting the bill saying women should compete for positions just like men. He pointed out that people should be left to campaign and win elected positions. "How can we expect them (women) to deliver if they failed to campaign and convince voters to choose them?." He said that the Constitution is very clear that everybody is equal and wondered why government wanted to give women special treatment. He said that political parties need to review their electoral laws to field women candidates who should compete for positions with men. "It's not our problem. It's is the electoral process in political parties," he charged. He said there are capable youth and women in Parliament hence the bill was irrelevant.
Chairman of Ntlo ya Dikgosi
However, there were members who supported the increase in the number of Specially Elected MPs though they differed on the figure. While some said the figure should be doubled as proposed, others said only two should be added. Kgosi Chika of Chobe said Dikgosi should not disagree with government. Although there were signs of poor coordination of the proceedings, the House will make a final decision on the bill this morning, probably through a vote.
The bill comes after a motion tabled by MP for Mahalapye East, Boltogile Tshireletso in February calling on government to amend the Constitution to increase the number of Specially Elected MPs from four to eight. She wants the four additional seats to be exclusively reserved for women. Her argument is that the representation of women in Parliament has dropped. The bill is one of the rare ones which have made government act swiftly to formulate a law from a motion tabled by an MP.