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UDC rebukes Kokorwe

Publishing Date : 25 July, 2016

Author : THABO BAGWASI

Opposition Chief Whip Wynter Mmolotsi

Opposition Chief Whip Wynter Mmolotsi has accused Speaker of the National Assembly Gladys Kokorwe of pursuing destruction of parliament’s opposition bloc, as a prelude to passing controversial bills unopposed.

Mmolotsi said that when the current session of parliament started two weeks ago, Kokorwe warned opposition Members of Parliament (MP’s)that there is a new Standing Order that she will not hesitate to use on them.

According to Mmolotsi, Kokorwe was referring to Standing Order 60.4 which has never been used in recent memory but has thus far been trialled through the expulsion of BCP MP for Selibe Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse as well as MP for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa last week.

Nkaigwa and Keorapetse were suspended for a period of a week from parliament while Molepolole North MP Mahomed Khan was also threatened with expulsion. Kokorwe stated on the 4th of July that while she had been patient in the previous session of parliament which ended unceremoniously this time around she was going to apply the parliamentary standing orders to rein in wayward MPs.

“We all know that there is an end to everything, so is my patience. I’m going to use Standing Order 60 more often, more especially 60.4 which is very clear,” said Kokorwe.

Standing Order 60.4 states that, “Whenever any member has been do named, the offence was committed by such Member in the Assembly, the speaker shall call upon any of the Whips and that Member be suspended form services of the national assembly. The speaker shall put the question on such motion forthwith, no motion, amendment or debate being allowed.
BDP chief whip Liakat Kablay would then rubberstamp Kokorwe’s motion.

The following Standing Order 60.5 further states that if any member is suspended from under this Standing Order, his or her suspension on the first occasion in any session shall continue for one (1) week.”

In the ensuing kerfuffle, Kokorwe supported by Kablay also suspended Keorapetse.

Mmolotsi speculated that the use of Standing Order 60.4 is an intention to destruct the opposition bloc in parliament through expulsions in order to pass the controversial Presidents (Gratuity, Pensions and Retirement Benefits) as well as the Ministerial Offices bill.

He further said that any level headed MP will not support the current bill conferring rewards on retiring presidents.

The proposed bill allows for a retiring president to cash in a housing allowance instead of having a presidential palace constructed for him. It also gives a retiring president liberty to have his office outside of Gaborone and further gives him a gratuity equal to 30 per cent of his or current monthly basic salary, multiplied by the number of months served as President.

It further provides that any person who has been President shall, immediately upon ceasing to hold office as such be entitled to receive a tax free monthly pension equivalent to the monthly basic salary attached to the office of President the time that he or she ceases to hold office, or 80 percent of the incumbent President’s salary, whichever is greater.

The opposition chief whip further reiterated that the murmured creation of extra two ministries will lead to a mindless spending spree that will put a strain on the government purse.

The bill intends to increase the number of ministers from 16 to 18 and the number of assistant ministers from 8 to 10.

He further said that the Specially Elected Member of Parliament policy that was first introduced to address a skills shortage in the formative years of the republic, no longer serves its original purpose because back in the day; few Batswana had received advanced education.

He said that it baffles them that specially elected MPs can be increased at a time when the public service system continues to chuck out around 4000 workers on government’s early exit policy.

Mmolotsi said that, as opposition they believe that the entire specially elected system should be scrapped off as well as the current 4 specially elected MPs as they are of no use to parliament.

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