The second meeting of the fifth session of the eleventh Parliament commonly known as the winter session ended last Friday following intense debate debates as Legislators considered the it midterm review of the 2020/21 NDP.
It was the dramatic session which saw the Leader of the Opposition Dumelang Saleshando suspended from Parliament by the Speaker only to be reinstated by the High court. The session also saw Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) suspending three of its MPs being Polson Majaga who is facing rape charges, Mephato Reggie Reatile for defying party caucus and Ignatius Moswaane for bringing the name of the party in disrepute.
Moswaane has since joined the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), increasing opposition numbers in Parliament from 15 to 16.
University of Botswana Political analyst Dr Boga Manatsha posits that the just ended winter session of Parliament was the most vibrant as legislators came out to show the electorates what they are capable of. He advised that there is need for political parties or individual Members of Parliament to engage Public Communication specialists to help them to package their deliberations well in a manner that ordinary people at home can grasp without difficulty.
Another observation by the University of Botswana lecturer is that as much as party caucus is important, it should not be used to curtail the thinking capabilities of legislators.
10 best performing MPs
• Dumelang Saleshando
As the Leader of the Opposition, the Maun West MP showed his political mettle by leading the opposition in debates and ensuring that they keep the ruling party on their toes. One of the issues that really unsettled government was his constant enquiry on the corrupt allegations levelled against President Mokgweetsi Masisi and those close to him.
He was suspended from Parliament for standing by his word that the sister to Masisi was awarded a tender to supply the Ministry of Health and Wellness with anti-retroviral drugs. With immense experience in Parliamentary proceedings, Saleshando has managed to outwit the ruling party MPs when they wanted to muzzle the opposition from contributing to debates in Parliament.
Although Saleshando has done exceptionally well in marshaling opposition forces, Dr Manatsha opines that the Maun West MP should cut down on unnecessary jibes at his opponents as sometimes the crux of his message is lost therein.
• David Tshere
Although he is new in Parliament, Member of Parliament for Mahalapye West has shown his political maturity during debates. Tshere ensured that he rose above petty talk that often dominated Parliamentary debates and debated bills and motions objectively.
Dr Manatsha praised Tshere for always raising good points and not being distracted by idle chat and petty politics.
• Dithapelo Keorapetse
He is one of the experienced opposition MPs being his second term in Parliament and like Saleshando he has kept the Executive (cabinet ministers) on their toes by his thought provoking questions and motions.
One of the motions that he brought to Parliament was seeking the repeal of the controversial Media Practitioners Act. The motion was defeated on the floor of Parliament by the majority Botswana Democratic party MPs despite that Keorapetse had made good submissions against the Act which has never been implemented since it was passed by Parliament in 2008
Keorapetse also questioned the appointment of expatriates as judges of the high court and court of appeal. Dr Mantsha observes that Keorapetse has done well in ensuring that he covers Saleshando well especially when the LOO is lost in the world on political jibes.
• Motsamai Motsamai
He is one of the most underrated MPs due to his academic limitations but the Gantsi South MP is proving to be political force to reckon with. He is very passionate about his constituents and holds their interest at heart. Motsamai has a lighter side which when he brings out, the whole Parliament is thrown into fits of laughter. “Although he always raises critical points in a very comical way, his message is always very thought provoking and well thought out,” observed Dr Manatsha.
He said Motsamai is very passionate about the welfare of the Kgalagadi people and always presents the challenges faced by his constituents in a very clear manner.
• Dr Douglas Letsholathebe
According to Dr Manatsha, the Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology is one of the few who have risen above petty politics and always speaks to the truth. “Letsholathebe is very fair and intelligent and his answers are very truthful,” he observed.
He used to struggle during Parliamentary proceedings but has since found his political feet and now showing his political mettle.
• Wynter Mmolotsi
The sole MP for Alliance for Progressives (AP), Mmolotsi has impressed the UB Don who said that he is proven his political mettle during the winter Parliamentary session. “He knows how to present his points and always thought provoking. He rose to the occasion during the debate of the amendment of the BDF Act,” observed Dr Manatsha.
During the debate on the amendment of the BDF Act, Mmolotsi was the only opposition MP left in Parliament after UDC and BPF MPs boycotted Parliament after Saleshando was suspended from the house by the Speaker, Phandu Skelemani.
• Yandani Boko
Though still a greenhorn, the Mahalapye East MP has shown his political maturity by addressing issues of national interest very well.
His recent motion calling on government to institute commission of inquiry on gender based violence ignited a debate among the nation in regard to the barbaric treatment of women and children in Botswana.
• Palelo Motaosane
His experience as a councillor in his home village of Thamaga came in handy for him. He used it very well to acclimatize to the Parliamentary debates. A very good debator who has a rich institutional memory especially how local government works and has used that to probe some of the answers given by the executive.
The Thamaga/Kumakwane MP is doing very well in representing his constituents in Parliament.
• Dr Never Tshabang
Though sometimes he seems to be lost in Parliament, the Nkange MP is one of the legislators that when they speak, everyone listens. An academic to the core, Dr Tshabang always ensured that whatever he presents is well thought out and researched.
Dr Manatsha said that Dr Tshabang is one of the few MPs who knows when to rise and speak and when to just listen.
• Talitha Monnakgotla
She needs to overcome stage fright and learn public speaking, then she will become one of the best female MPs to have ever come out of Botswana parliament. The Kgalagadi North MP is very passionate about her constituents and ensures that their plight is known and addressed, especially poverty situation among her people.
Monnakgotla never misses an opportunity to talk about affirmative action in her constituency. Dr Manatsha observed that Monnaakgotla needs to improve on her presentation skills and try to internalize challenges faced by her constituents instead of always reading. “Most of the time people fail to get her message because of her poor presentation skills and with time she will improve,” he observed.