'Betrayal' in the August House as money talks

Legislators this week gave themselves a handy salary increment
Legislators this week gave themselves a handy salary increment

Wednesday was a rare day in Parliament, with members across the divide putting down their swords and singing warmly from the same hymnbook about how hard they work and how they deserve far more pay.

They tenderly addressed each other, lovingly supported one another’s comments, respectfully obeyed procedures and the Speaker, as they smoothly awarded themselves a salary increment.

The August House is notoriously hostile, with legislators from the opposition and ruling party nearly always at each other’s throats. On Wednesday, that animosity was set aside when the minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Nonofo Molefhi presented the National Assembly (Salaries and Allowances) Amendment Bill of 2019, which proposed a significant bump of the MPs salaries by an overall 15%.

Legislators across the political divide showed the type of camaraderie that has not been witnessed in the longest time in Parliament.

The ugly scenes of the past were a forgotten distant memory as lawmakers lined up to the trough. The time when Phenyo Butale was physically dragged out of Parliament and manhandled by the House security, was a distant memory. The time when Sedirwa Kgoroba threw a missile at Defence minister Shaw Kgathi, was a distant memory.

For the first time in quite a while, none of the legislators wanted to leave the House fearing to collapse the quorum.

MPs spoke emotionally about their salaries. Critics noted that the same emotion was missing when a majority of legislators swatted away a recent motion to introduce a living wage for Batswana.

This time, even those who hardly say a word in Parliament, stood to be picked by the Speaker to contribute. In their voices, in their faces and in the atmosphere, the House stood as one to collectively lift their bottom lines.

Mmegi here samples some of the comments made by legislators during the debate:

Dithapelo Keorapetse(Selebi Phikwe West)

“There is mischief Mr Speaker. This mischief is normally peddled by those who seek to call us all sorts of names for exercising the powers given to us to legislate on these matters. Such people who seek to call us all sorts of names for engaging in this exercise, they never at any point in time assess the conditions of service of Members of Parliament across the region. If you do that, you will come to a conclusion that Members of Parliament in this Republic are really volunteers, volunteers who have left their plum jobs. Honourable Madigele for instance, is a Medical Doctor, qualified.

Honourable Ministers here, we have business people, ICT people, bo Honourable Ngaka Ngaka, Statisticians, Army Generals and Dikgosi. All these people are here to serve.”


Dorcas Makgato (Minister of Transport and Communications)

“Thank you very much Mr Speaker. I stand to support my Honourable colleague Rre Molefhi with this missing Bill that we have been waiting for, for so long. We are grossly underpaid. I welcome this development of delinking the salaries of Members of the national service from the public structure. It is key because when I joined this Parliament, my salary as Minister was pegged to Deputy Director if I am correct. I was a whole Minister of Trade and Industry doing the work that I was doing, but I was paid at the same level as Deputy Director in the same ministry.

You can imagine when you give instructions to a Deputy Director a go lebile a re, “kante wa reng ka gore tota le go amogela, ga a amogele”.


Ignatius Moswaane (Francistown West)

“I will suggest for you ka gore lona le a tshaba; Mopalamente e ka bo e re fa a tšhaisa fale a bo a fiwa P3.5 million gotwe tsaya o thibe ditshenyegelo tsa tshotlego ya gago yotlhe ya botshelo jwa gago. I am talking about this figure ka gore diphathi tsotlhe tsa sepolotiki ga di na madi a sepolotiki mme go a zamazamiwa bagaetsho.”


Noah Salakae (Gantsi North)

“Nnyaa, ke ne ke ipuelelela borra gore, ke ne ke sa batle gore kamoso gotwe ke ledela. Ke dumela jalo gore fa e le gore o tlhoka madi, o bo o sa eme ka dinao e se ka mabaka a nako, ke bodela. Ke wela fela ke rialo Motlotlegi Speaker gore, ke a kopa tlhe batho, ke eletsa go direla bagaetsho. Ka lebaka la gore ga gona transport le dilo tse di ntsi tse ke di tlhokang, madinyana a a ka nthusa go ba direla ka lerato le ke nang le lone mo go bone, not necessarily that I want to be a vulture. Thank you very much”


Thapelo Olopeng (Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and technology)

“Fa o utlwa Honourable MPs ba re fa o ile kwa meetings tsa bone tsa Palamente go itshupa gore they are volunteers, ba na le mabaka a ba buang ka gone gore, ba na le Mapalamente a mafatshe a region e, sa bone ke go kopa dichenchi. Fa go jewa gotwe, “nnyaa, letsatsi leno re ya go ja kwa restaurant ele,” Mopalamente wa Botswana o tshwanetse gore a ye kwa buffet ka gore o itse gore fa a ka ya kwa o fitlhelang go tsentswe letlhare le bo le pegiwa fa godimo ga cake- nyana e e kananyana, mme go itsiwe gore ke $300, e tlaabo e le yone per diem ya gagwe ya bofelo, mme a tsamaile malatsi. Golo mo go diga seriti sa lefatshe”

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