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Masisi reveals plan to consolidate his presidency

Publishing Date : 16 September, 2019

Author : UTLWANANG GASENNELWE

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) leader, President Mokgweetsi Masisi has this week revealed some of his priority areas, should he ascend to power post October 2019 General Elections.


Masisi uncovered this during the weekend launch of Kanye South BDP MP candidate Dr. Lemogang Kwape and his crop of Councillors in Kanye. The President asserted that at the top of the agenda will be how he and his new government will be enacting a law barring politicians from floor crossing. Currently, there is no law that prohibits politicians from crossing the floor to join other political parties if they so wish at any point of incumbency.


Masisi provided the hint amid strong speculation that some BDP MP candidates are said to be planning to join the opposition Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF,) immediately after winning the impending 2019 National elections. Some of the coming MPs are said to be on their way to join the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), in order to smoothly ensure Masisi and his government collapse and a new leadership ushered in after elections. BPF, which is a party formed by former President Ian Khama, currently caught up in power struggle with Masisi, is fighting tooth and nail to unseat Masisi – through everything written in the rule book.


Aware of this state of affairs, Masisi stated this week that: “Nna ga ke batle go tshosediwa ke busa puso (I don’t want to be threatened when I run government), whereby you hear people around or legislators speculating that they will jump ship to other political parties in parliament,” he said. As a matter of priority Masisi stressed that, if he wins, he will table the law immediately when he gets to parliament.


He explained: “the law will be made in such a way that whoever wants to cross the floor by joining another party, whether they dump opposition to join the ruling party or they dump the BDP and join the opposition, they should then altogether resign the MP portfolio.” He added: ‘I believe they (politicians) should go back to the electorates to ask for a clean mandate so that they have an opportunity to choose which party or candidate they want and then vote again.


As it stands, the current arrangement dictates that an MP, just after being elected by the people, can just write to Speaker of the Parliament, informing him of his decision to cross the floor. “Now, we got them, from the General Elections we will pass this law with immediate effect. Ga go tshamekelwe mo ntlong pula e sa ne. This is a serious matter and we are not joking about it,” Masisi emphasised. He also said when parliament resumes, he anticipates to see some legislators with such kind of behaviour wanting to floor cross but he will nip them in the bud.


Meanwhile the Constitution of Botswana, the National Assembly Act (in terms of MP’s) and the Local Government Act (Councillors) are at the moment silent on floor crossing. Only the Parliamentary Standing Orders, with regard to floor crossing, state that MPs wishing to cross the floor should notify the Speaker of the National Assembly in writing and they would be granted such. Standing Order 6 (2) reads thus; “any member who crosses the floor or changes his political allegiance shall inform the Speaker in writing as to which party she/he belongs.”


However, it is not the first time that such a floor crossing Bill has been promised to be brought to parliament. In 2009, the then Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Daniel Kwelagobe told parliament of government’s intention to bring the Bill to the floor of parliament for debate and consideration, but never did.  


Research indicates that the motion which supported development of anti-floor crossing measures nonetheless passed in 1998, although government delayed in drafting a bill on the matter. The public was said to have supported the motion. According to reports, floor crossing is not a new phenomenon in Botswana, as it has happened on many occasions in favor of the ruling party.  


“In 1998, after a bitter war at a congress in Palapye, 13 Members of Parliament of the BNF left the party to form the Botswana Congress Party (BCP). This prompted a ruling party MP to table a motion calling on government to draft legislation on floor crossing. Although the House adopted the motion, to-date government still has not drafted the Bill,” reports states. They further highlight that delay could be stemming from the fact that the ruling party has benefited from the absence of the law for many years and it never occurred to them that one day, their members would cross the floor to join other parties.

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