Decorum in the House: The role of the Speaker, VP

Many Batswana think that Botswana Parliament first year was dominated by inappropriate behaviour such as insults, slurs and prejudicial speeches and behavior by Members of Parliament (MPs).

Some dismiss MPs as irresponsible people who are just in the House to play. Some voters have phoned radio stations to complain while others have resorted to social media to bash MPs about their lack of propriety, etiquette or seemliness and their alleged preoccupation with trivia. Many critics of MPs have little appreciation of what’s happening in the House, including the draconian rules MPs work under. In most cases opposition MPs are the ones criticised for bad behaviour in the House. Failure to quorate has also been mentioned as a clear sign of MPs lack of seriousness. This has however significantly improved. Some MPs from both sides of the aisle have been thrown out by the Speaker for nonconformity with the rules of order and procedure. Are the aforementioned accusations fair on MPs,  are they really ill mannered, irresponsible and playful and if so why? What is really going on in Parliament? 

Most of the time what’s happening in Parliament is normal. Politics, at freedom squares and both Parliament and Councils, is by nature rough; it is not like a church service or a corporate meeting where everybody is expected to be silent, listen and speak only when allowed to speak. In Parliament, interrupting someone who is on the floor through side remarks or points of order or procedure or clarifications is normal. It is true that sometimes an MP on the floor is disturbed with derisive or aggressive comments or abuse. If MPs unwarrantedly interrupt  others, The Speaker has to intervene and make a ruling. Because parliament proceedings are not broadcast on TV or radio, many people mistake proper and appropriate interruptions and war of words for  bad behaviour. 

Editor's Comment
Botswana deserves ideal political leaders

This remains to be seen, particularly as opposite unity has been seeing its ups and downs. In 2012, three opposition parties namely the Botswana National Front (BNF), the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), and the Botswana National Front (BNF) formed a political alliance under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) would, after rebuffs, join the coalition in 2017.The promise made by the coalition to its...

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