The Observer: Kenewendo, welcome!

SHARE   |   Monday, 31 October 2016   |   By Simon Gabathuse
The Observer: Kenewendo, welcome!

We have discussed in this column that as long as the law is not changed to allow the State President to pick Cabinet outside the National Assembly we are far away from having an effective executive. The President is tied to the men and women in Parliament to be able to form a Cabinet. These men and women are voted in by Batswana. The trend of voting, right from primary elections up to the national elections, has continued to be that of a people indeed voting with their hands than their brains. If you are to look at the calibre of people voted into Parliament; it is a true reflection of what Batswana perceive politics to be all about. It is not a question of merit. The characters in Parliament from whom the State President has to pick to make a Cabinet cannot even make it to a Pre-School Debating Society. Given this scenario, the State President has to augment his choices with Specially Elected Members of Parliament. The Botswana scenario has always been that all those who have been elected as Special Members of Parliament end up in Cabinet. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development being the main beneficiary of these Specially Elected Members of Parliament (SEPS)! This is so because people that Batswana vote into Parliament do not have a figure to head a ministry that is tasked with the national budget and development of a country. To be precise, most of the people Batswana vote into Parliament are not parliamentary. It then means that if they are not parliamentary there is no how they can be Cabinet material.

Changing names of ministries and multiplying them will never solve our governance problem. Only a change in the law to allow State President to appoint Cabinet outside Parliament will solve our governance problem. Otherwise we are just going to ruin careers of technocrats who end up in cabinet after being appointed Specially Elected Members of Parliament. I normally feel for these technocrats. After just a few weeks into Parliament they are somehow ‘baptised with the spirit of fire’ to become just a part of the lot. After getting into Parliament through back door, technocrats taste power they have never dreamt of. The power of being allowed to be foolish. As scholars they would have learnt that research and debate are ideal to reaching a developmental agenda. But after they land in Parliament they begin to realise that it only takes one to be a moron. The ordinary Motswana does not even understand what Parliament is about anymore. This trend will never end as politics in Botswana, due to the little pay has been reserved for pensioners or those who have failed in all other avenues of life. If it is not those who failed in all avenues of life, it is those looking for a place to comfortably enjoy their pensions. They literally use the National Assembly as that platform. Only a select few have an idea of what should be done in Parliament. The rest use it as a place to attain some form of social status. The level of what is supposed to be debates in Parliament says it all. I have often mistaken some of the MPs for parliamentary furniture. They can’t even raise their fingers. They are usually so stiff and looking uncomfortable that one will assume they have been instructed to remain still. You must see some of them once their five year comfort is complete.

They get so poor that you can easily tell they did not plan for the future. This is a problem, it says to us that we are sending people to Parliament without having really thought scrutinised them. If a man cannot plan for his future and that of his family, how can we expect him to plan the future of a nation? But we do this thing every five years and expect different results.  This culture of sending unqualified people to Parliament when we are all very much aware that our laws limit choice of Cabinet Ministers to come from Parliament is ruining this country. Otherwise we need to push for an amendment of the constitution. Because of all these, we will continue to multiply ministries and increase Cabinet Ministers. We are not solving the problem. The people voted into Parliament are not even raising these issues. For they are hoping for a Cabinet position. They have a fear that once the national constitution is amended to allow the State President to elect Cabinet members outside Parliament then they will never make it to Cabinet. They can’t just stand up and ask their party members to scrutinise this whole sad situation. They have a solution to national governance right in front of them yet they are not picking it up. They are waiting for a Cabinet Minister to come and present it as a Bill in Parliament and then raise their hands to vote. They can’t even bring it as a motion themselves. They are waiting for an opportunity to present their motions such as the one asking a Minister if he or she is aware that there has not been a post office driver at one of the small settlements for the past six months.

They are always waiting for budget speech moments or state of the nation address to showcase their new wardrobe collections. We normally see their nice outfits when entering parliament on the given days, then that’s it. We will not hear their voices. We will see their confidence in the next opportunity to showcase their wardrobes. As we congratulate and welcome the two Specially Elected Members of Parliament; Mephato Reggie Reatile and Bogolo Joy Kenewendo in to the National Assembly, we should mention these issues to them. Especially so to Ms. Bogolo Joy Kenewendo. She needs to be told the truth. You are a technocrat today, a politician in a few months’ time, then a moron. We would not be surprised. You have just become a subject of scrutiny and we shall not spare you. We will skin you alive. We can’t take away your educational track record. It’s impressive. Your career profile is creamy. You are also very beautiful. But unfortunately, you just landed where all that does not matter anymore. And by the way, you are joining Parliament at a time when Batswana have begun to look deep into waters. Even imaginary waters. Welcome.
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