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Parliament speaker wants laws reviewed after Guma fiasco

Publishing Date : 19 August, 2019

Author : KETUMILE RAMATITI

As the curtains close on the 11th parliament, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Kagiso Molatlhegi has revealed that Tati East legislator, Samson Guma’s self-imposed exile and ultimately missing the just ended meeting remains a major highlight during his term.


Molatlhegi’s remark comes after he admitted that the soon to be dissolved parliament had a number of challenges. “This parliament had a lot of new members and most of them were young, so we had a number of challenges. That is why most of the time you will see legislators exchanging bitter words or even some thrown out of the house because of lack of cooperation,” he said. Guma left the parliament in March this year amid assassination threats and never came back. This has irked the Acting Speaker of the National Assembly, Molatlhegi.


“It is the first time I see an MP going for this long and to me this calls for the review of the standing orders. Because they [current Standing Orders] say an MP should not miss two consecutive meetings and the honourable member was here in March before he left, so he remains an MP despite the circumstances.” “But this at times is not fair to the voters because their MP miss parliamentary business which is very key. My suggestion was the 12th parliament should look onto this matter. Let’s say if you miss three weeks then you are not MP because two meetings is just a long period,” Molatlhegi told WeekendPost when recapping off the current parliament.


In terms of independence of the National Assembly, Molatlhegi observes that it is very much autonomous as demonstrated by some parliamentary sub committees stamping their authority on a number of matters. Before it closed, Finance and Estimates Committee rejected Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Mathambo’s P900 million supplementary budgets for water projects. This is what Molatlhegi is anchoring his parliamentary independence stance on.


 “And we have also written to other parliaments to see how best we can work together. This will also strengthen ours. We have written to France, Mozambique and Kenya by far,” said Molatlhegi, who is also Member of Parliament for Gaborone South. There have been questions on the independence of the Botswana Parliament as it is understood that it operates under the auspices of Office of the President (OP). The just ended meeting, which closed the last session of parliament, saw 17 bills passed with and one policy (Botswana Land Policy) adopted. In terms of private members’ motions only two were approved with one negated by the house.


PARLIAMENT LIVE BROADCAST NEXT YEAR

In terms of the live broadcasting of the National Assembly, Molatlhegi said: “I believe the 12th parliament will be broadcast live. Negotiations are still ongoing and I should say we are getting there. We had a little budget and also we had to buy some equipment like cameras and mics which we could not with the P3 million we were given.” “The P3 million was never used hence it was never included this time around and its been years which means we will have to re-budget because obviously the budget should have gone up and roughly it might need P10 million but we have other partners like Office of the President who might assist.”


MOLATLHEGI READY FOR SPEAKERSHIP ROLE

Molatlhegi who has been an MP for Gaborone South for 10 years will not contest this year’s election as he has made up his mind that he will be focusing on his personal business, but he is ready to serve as the speaker if the MPs so wish. “I took a decision to focus on me and my family, but if the legislators do need my services I will definitely come, my fate lies on them to be honest,” he said. Molatlhegi rose to the deputy speakership role after 2014 elections assisting Gladys Kokorwe who is currently ill.


Kokorwe has revealed that he will not be vying for another term post-election, a factor which makes her deputy (Molatlhegi) a front-runner for the role. The Botswana Parliament is created by Section 57 of the Constitution and it is composed of the President and the National Assembly. The role of parliament is to make laws as stipulated in Section 86 of the Constitution, which states that: ‘Parliament shall have the power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Botswana.’In this way it means Parliament exercises legislative powers as one of its core mandates. In addition, Parliament performs functions such as representation, scrutiny and oversight. 

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