There was near chaos in Parliament on Friday morning when Vice President Slumber Tsogwane and Speaker of the National Assembly Phandu Skelemani clashed over who is in charge of Parliament.
Things came to a head when Tsogwane told the Speaker that he must stop Members of Parliament from taking advantage of the supplementary questions and that he must stop them before they can even finish making statements. He was referring to Member of Parliament for Serowe West Tshekedi Khama who instead of asking a supplementary question made a statement regarding the independence of the oversight institutions.
First to throw the cat among the pigeons was Member of Parliament for Francistown South, Wynter Mmolotsi who stood on point of procedure and stated that he wanted to reprimand the Vice President who is also the Leader of the House from trying to control the Speaker. “I think I am now compelled to stand up and reprimand the Leader of the House, because yesterday he kept doing the same thing, where he wanted you to act the way he wants,” hit out Mmolotsi.
Mmolotsi, who enjoys stoking fires, added that Tsogwane should know that he is not the Speaker and should not instruct Skelemani on what to do in the house. The criticism hit the right chord in Skelemani who didn’t waste time and lashed out at Tsogwane telling him that he is the one running the house. “You have noticed yesterday that I continued as I deemed fit to give the floor to Honourable Kapinga or whoever was on the floor, kana ke Honourable Moatlhodi, to continue, because I have absolutely no intention of being told anything by anybody,” hit out Skelemani, attracting a round of applause from the opposition MPs.
Skelemani who is known for his militant way of taking his opponents head without mincing his words told Vice President Tsogwane that he has taken an oath and it has a meaning. “It should never be assumed by anybody that I can be told what to do. If you do that, I will ignore,” he lashed out at Tsogwane.
Not the one to give up easily, Tsogwane came with guns blazing stating that he is an MP and has the right rise on any point and that he is also the Leader of the House. “I am the Member of Parliament for Boteti West and I have won that constituency. So, you better be aware of that,” he retaliated.
In what seemed to be a climb-down, SKelemani called for calm and said that all MPs have the right to stand, even if in his view they are wrong because he cannot anticipate them. This came after Speaker questioned the MP for Serowe West Tshekedi Khama on whether he was asking a question or making a statement regarding the independence of the oversight institutions.
Instead of asking the question, Khama said that though he is constrained by the oath he took as cabinet minister, he knows that oversight institutions are not independent from the Executive in executing their mandates. “I am constrained by the oath I took and I would be quite happy if that oath, I was to be exonerated from keeping it, by telling him exactly how those people are not independent,” revealed Khama.
This prompted Tsogwane to call on the speaker to stop Khama from making statements instead of asking questions.