COMMENTARY: Parliament is no playground

SHARE   |   Sunday, 15 February 2015   |   By Staff Writer
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What happened in parliament two weeks ago when the ruling party MPs connived to halt the debate on the 2015/16 budget is embarrassing and should never be allowed to happen again in the august house. For the first time in the history of the country, members of parliament and the deputy speaker had to close the debate on the budget presented by Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo, before the honourable house after the contribution of four MPs because no one else showed interest to participate. It can never be right that the ruling party used loop-holes in the standing orders to deny members of parliament who were recently elected to represent the people, an opportunity to contribute to the discussion of the 2015/16 budget. It is a shame that only four MPs debated the budget and the remaining 57 failing to have that opportunity. It is even more embarrassing for opposition MPs to argue that they were hoping that the ruling party MPs will continue with the debate while they organised themselves. Really!
One would have assumed that with so much talent and highly educated members of parliament, they would have familiarised themselves with the Standing Orders guiding the debates well in time before reporting for work. What was that expensive holiday disguised as an orientation for MPs all about? Even then, most of those sitting in the current parliament are returning MPs and should be aware of the standing orders. It turns out that opposition MPs were caught off-guard and are now running helter-skelter trying to cause amendment to standing orders to prevent further embarrassment. But do we need such an amendment or the opposition MPs are just trying to save face? We hope that this embarrassing blunder by opposition MPs does not represent what is to become of parliamentary debates going forward. Our people deserve proper representation. The BDP MPs who also abdicated on their responsibility to represent their constituents by contributing to the debate cannot escape the criticism for putting petty and myopic party politics to discredit the opposition. Parliament is not a playground where a group of grown men can sit and devise strategies to discredit and shame the opposition at the expense of the electorates. They were elected by the masses to represent the interest of the public in contributing meaningfully to parliamentary debates. If such conduct continues, we are tempted to call on electorates not to vote for any candidate who goes to parliament to advance personal interest and those of his party at the expense of the voting masses.   
We are also aware of reports that some honourable MPs recently came close to a fist-fight in the august house. That this is disturbing is an understatement. Could this signal the intolerance to divergent views by opposing camps, now that opposition parties have a significant number of their own in parliament? We call for calm and sanity to prevail in parliament to allow for deliberations to continue in an honourable manner. Parliament should not be reduced to a boxing ring. Fully grown adults bestowed with the responsibility to advance the interest of the masses should conduct themselves in a respectable manner and avoid being derailed by side issues like petty politicking.

Give our people water

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For the whole of last week Molepolole village-with a population well over 70 000 people and several neighbouring centres in the Kweneng District did not have water. Following disruptions in supply a week earlier and just as WUC assures people that supply was restored; taps started releasing brownish contaminated water for two days before supply was terminated for good. On the advice from WUC some members of the public left their taps running for hours to release the brown stuff in the hope that clean water would flow out later. It was never to be. It would be interesting to find out who is going to settle the bills for the brown water allowed to flow out of the taps because the metres continued reading during such cleansing. This issue could spark another confrontation between WUC and members of the public.
Already WUC has suffered reputational damage due to failure to consistently supply clean water to residents of Molepolole, neighbouring villages and other parts of the country from as far back as 2007. All fingers point to the water sector reforms which saw WUC taking over water supply from Water Affairs Department and councils. Those in the know insist that the take -over was poorly planned and the execution rushed which has resulted in the current disaster. We also learn that the designs and planning for the whole supply was done using outdated statistics which did not reflect the correct population estimates for the affected area.  WUC is said to be so broke it survives on monthly subventions from government to pay salaries to a workforce that ballooned after many employees were inherited from the predecessor water supplies departments. We are aware that government is in the process of connecting major centres in the southern part of the country to the North South Carrier (NSC) pipeline. But we maintain that people should be provided with water as a necessity.



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