Bobonong legislator, Taolo Lucas recently tabled a motion that called upon government to establish a social justice commission.
He argued that the Commission would help address the acute levels of inequality in the country. Equally, he said that it is common knowledge that our gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of over $8,000 has earned the country an upper middle income status and are working for a GDP per capita income of $12,000 by 2036.
However, he said the big question here is whether the country’s wealth as shown by these colourful figures was evenly distributed amongst citizens and evident in people’s lives throughout the country. Lo and behold 28 Members of Parliament (MPs) all being of the ruling party voted against it. Twelve from the opposition were in support of the motion. When debating the motion, Lucas said there is no doubt that Botswana is an unequal nation hence the need for the government to evolve policies that have a social justice slant.These are policies that emphasise the fair distribution of resources, services, opportunities and development projects.
We believe that Lucas’ motion was necessary. It is worrying that the ruling party MPs could not find value in it. One would have hoped that for once, the MPs would put their political affiliations aside when addressing this motion and put the interests of the people who voted them into power and office first.
First because there is no doubt that the citizens need policies that are sensitive
With what transpired as a majority of the MPs rejected the motion one could wonder if they are in office to represent their interests or those of their party or the welfare of their electorates.
There is a need for this committee because a social justice commission is charged with the responsibility of auditing fairness in the distribution of wealth and construction of policies will be a useful starting point in achieving equity in development. Land ownership remains the country’s nightmare, as there are dire difficulties in land allocation as hundreds of thousands of Batswana are on waiting lists for residential plots.
When the motion was debated before Parliament, a majority of MPs even from the ruling party conceded that it was a good idea but in the end they voted against it. It is something that one might think the reason has more to do with fact that an MP from an opposition party proposed it than the idea itself.
In the past, MPs from the ruling party with their high numbers rejected motions that were passed by opposition members only to later table them again in Parliament as a ‘new idea’.
For the sake of our citizens let us put our differences aside and address national interests above party politics.