MPs clash over Molale


President Ian Khama’s postponement of the ballot for Specially Elected Member of Parliament threw the National Assembly into chaos yesterday as opposition legislators accused the ruling party of compromising due process in order to settle internal disputes.

While the ballot traditionally should have taken place on Monday, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is said to be divided over again nominating Presidential and Public Affairs minister, Eric Molale for the Specially Elected seat, prompting the delay.

Molale quit his Specially Elected seat late July to run for the Goodhope/Mabule constituency, losing to Kgosi Lotlaamoreng II of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).

Barely four hours after Molale quit, Khama appointed him to a special constitutional four-month tenure as minister, a period which is due to end on November 24 and which limits the time the BDP has to resolve the divisions over the Specially Elected MP position.

After Parliament business yesterday, Speaker, Gladys Kokorwe found herself at pains to bar opposition MPs from demanding answers on the matter, as they argued that BDP interests were being placed above national concerns.

While Gabane/Mmankgodi MP Pius Mokgware moved that the issue be discussed, Kokorwe jumped in to say the issue was not on the agenda, ignoring and putting down several calls from the opposition ranks who shouted “point of order” and “supplementary”.

“Members, I plead with you to save this one. Let us not open a can of worms which we will struggle to close, please,” Kokorwe said.

“I am the one who will table the Specially Elected member issue when the right time comes. That one will come from me, not you.”

However, legislators said Kokorwe should not claim constitutional expertise and should rather call Parliament’s legal advisor to clarify the issue as is practice when the National Assembly discusses issues bordering on the constitution. Kokorwe however refused and brushed off the issue.

As the drama unfolded, BDP legislators, who are usually quick to move against the opposition, were conspicuously silent, watching emotionlessly from across the divide.

Mmegi is informed that yesterday morning, BDP legislators met at the National Assembly and held a caucus on the Molale matter.

UDC chief whip, Wynter Mmolotsi, told Mmegi that constitutionally and traditionally, Molale or whoever the BDP decides upon should have been put up for nomination on the opening day of Parliament, which was Monday.

It had been widely expected that the vote for a Specially Elected MP would take place shortly before or after Kgosi Lotlamoreng II’s swearing in.

“What we are witnessing or about to witness is more or less the same as what happened to the nation when parliamentary business was suspended because Khama was suspicious about whether his MPs would vote for his preferred candidate as Speaker,” Mmolotsi said.

For his part, Shashe West MP and assistant Education Minister, Fidelis Molao, accused the opposition of being “childish”.

“They did not raise the issue when the parliamentary agenda was being discussed in the morning,” he said.

“They waited to raise the issue in Parliament as a point of order which I found childish and irresponsible.” Should Molale fail to secure the BDP’s nomination for the Specially Elected seat, he faces a constitutional grey area as his continued presence in Cabinet relies on the four-month period granted by Section 42 of the Constitution.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

Have a Story? Send Us a tip
arrow up