Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Parliamentary caucus has resolved to remove all opposition MPs from leading parliamentary committees, thus paving the way for BDP MPs to take control, The Patriot on Sunday can reveal.
By Thursday, the BDP had made up their mind to take full control of Parliament by deploying only its legislators in the leadership of Parliamentary committees, a strategy calculated to weaken the influence of opposition MPs in the august house.
BDP has 44 MPs followed by the opposition coalition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) with 14 MPs, Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) with four (4) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) with one (1). From 44 of BDP MPs, 38 are elected while six (6) are Specially Elected Members of Parliament (SEMPs).
On Friday, Gaborone Central BDP MP, Tumisang Healy tabled before Parliament an urgent motion calling for the house to dissolve committees with immediate effect as they do not reflect a true picture of numbers in Parliament. According to Healy, BDP being the majority in Parliament is not represented well in committees. “Since we came back from 2019 general elections there has been a number of defections with some MPs crossing floor and other ones appointed to cabinet. The current committees in their form don’t reflect the real representation of parliament. We need to correct this anomaly,” said Healy.
Political commentator, Frank Mogotsi said the plan by BDP is to take control of Parliament. He said it is unnecessary for the Parliament committees to be formed based on political alignment. “It amounts to politicizing Parliament committees. Committees are not an extension of cabinet but what the BDP wants now is to have the committees controlled by cabinet. Also, it is important to note that a number of committees arecurrently chaired by opposition MPs, hence BDP want them out in favour of their own,” he said.
Umbrella for Democratic MP for Ngami Carter Hikuama said he is against the motion because Parliamentary committees have been working very well. He noted that the committees are bound to be diluted by the politicisation that BDP wants. “We have committees and they formed quorums and served very well without any problems. There is no urgency in this motion and its intention is to make committees extension of cabinet,” he said.
Healy’s motion reads; “That this Honourable House resolves as a matter of urgency to suspend the Standing Order 98.1 and proceed to dissolve all the Committees of Parliament and direct the Committee of Selection to expeditiously constitute the new Parliamentary Committees within three (3) days, reflecting the composition of Parliament as much as possible”.
Also, Healy said it is important for people with certain qualifications to be in charge of committees. “We should restructure and allow the MPs with certain specialties to be leading committees. For example, we have BDP MP Thapelo Matsheka who is an economics guru and he is not even in the finance and economic committee which is led by Onneetse Ramogapi. We also have the former foreign affairs minister and legal guru Dr Unity Dow not in the foreign affairs committee,” said Healy on Friday.
Meanwhile, Mogotsi said it is important for Botswana to adopt the inclusive electoral reforms. He said the current the First-Past-The Post (FPTP) electoral system now used locally is overdue. “Electoral systems are manipulative instruments and determine how policies or laws are made by the ruling parties. Now what the BDP is doing by seeking for parliamentary committees to be under the manipulation of BDP under pretext of majority. Time has come for Botswana to adopt the electoral systems such as the proportional representation which is common across Africa,” he said.
The proportional representation, he said, it offers greater and more representative choice for voters. “For example, all members of the community ranging from disabled people, business community and the religious or sport sector will have their interests represented in parliament with certain MPs who have background from any of this sectors elected. This allows for greater consensus in policy making. But it is sad that we didn’t hear people advocating for this reform in constitutional review tour,” he said.
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