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Home » News » Politics » Nasha says Khama held MPs at ransom

Nasha says Khama held MPs at ransom

Publishing Date : 08 December, 2014

Author : FRANCINAH BAAITSE


Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Margaret Nasha is not happy with the treatment she got from President Lt Gen Ian Khama ahead of Parliament’s election of Speaker, a position she lost to Gladys Kokorwe on Wednesday.


Speaking at a Press conference at Gaborone sun hotel in the capital city on Thursday morning, Nasha who lost the Speaker race to Gladys Kokorwe the previous day, testified that the ruling party members of Parliament were held at ransom and left with no option but to vote for the President’s desired candidate.


“Their actions at least to me were a clear indication of the insignificant length and breaths that the BDP leadership will go, to hold democratically elected Members of Parliament (MP) at ransom. This ladies and gentlemen is a red flag. Make no mistake about it. I am very much aware that the BDP MPs who had previously vouched to support my candidacy found themselves in a very difficult situation,” Nasha pointed out.


President Ian Khama Seretse Khama, who was sworn in for his second term in office a fortnight ago, is alleged to have this week held the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members of Parliament at ransom and demanded that they vote for his choice of Speaker or he calls for fresh elections.


The MPs who are mostly new comers to the house and have won the October 24th general elections with very slim margins could therefore not risk a re-run and allegedly had to do what was demanded from them.
“I was thoroughly disappointed to learn that my party the BDP went to extreme measures to undermine the merits of a secret ballot by intimidating and whipping their members of Parliament into submission, to vote in a prescribed manner,” Nasha pointed out.


Khama is said to have made the move, after he lost a court case in which his party and the Attorney general attempted to manipulate the standing orders. According to Nasha, the BDP legal counsel, Collins and Newman sent her a letter on the eve of elections in which she was requested to bend the Parliament standing orders. According to Nasha, the letter threatened a legal suit in case Nasha refused to manipulate the standing orders.


During the eleventh parliament which ended last Month, Nasha advocated for the independence of Parliament and even facilitated the drafting of the bills which sought to reduce the Presidential powers in as far as the control of Parliament is concerned.


The bills which are yet to be tabled seek Parliament to be responsible for recruitment and dismissal of its staff including the clerk and deputy clerk. The bill would further require the clerk to directly report to the Speaker not the President as it is the case to date.


The standing orders which were challenged in court this week were introduced to Parliament last year as part of the process of delivering Parliament from the control and the manipulation of the President and Nasha admits that, were they successful in tabling the bills which were blocked by the Executive towards the closure of the tenth Parliament, her mission in Parliament would have been accomplished.


“We needed to bring bills to Parliament. We have prepared the bills. They are there in the shelves of Parliament and they were to go to the eleventh Parliament. That was the last brick before the roofing was completed,” Nasha pointed out.
Her hope is however that some of the backbenchers who were in the previous Parliament would carry on the baton.


“Let it be known that it is the duty of Parliament to hold the Executive to account. And our Parliament should not be an exception to this rule,” Nasha added.


But most MPs who backed Nasha on her quests to make Parliament Independent of the Office of the Presidents were defeated during the general elections and the few that remained have now been absorbed into Cabinet positions which would make it very difficult for them to make a move that could offend the President.


“If the eleventh Parliament changes the standing orders, I would not be there, but it would come as a shock. What bothered me was that decisions taken under my leadership were under threat,” Nasha explained further.
Her last hope is that her successor, Gladys Kokorwe who had been a deputy Speaker before would see to it that the spirit of making Parliament totally independent is realised.


 “I hope that she will do all that is best for the nation in keeping Parliament free from intimidation and the grasp of the Executive who during the tenth Parliament have shown resentment to the philosophy of the independence of Parliament viewing it as obstructive and interfering with their mandate,” Nasha could only hope.


Meanwhile it appears President Khama still has steep hills to climb as he need to restore public confidence following all this drama.  He also faces stronger opposition and resentment from some ousted party grassroots who are currently in Nashal’s camp.


Nasha who joined the BDP in 1979 says she has no intention of contesting for party positions at the next congress but promises to “fixing things” from within.


“As you know when one door closes many other doors open so I am going to new doors. I have many things to do. When I joined the BDP I did so voluntarily and I was not recruited by anybody. I joined the BDP of my own volition in 1979 and there is nothing that would make me desert the party for now. I believe in fixing things from inside. You never know what the future holds,” Nasha maintained.
 

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