Committee: Boko plagiarised

SHARE   |   Monday, 14 March 2016   |   By Phillimon Mmeso
ACCUSER; Maele and ACCUSED; Boko ACCUSER; Maele and ACCUSED; Boko

There was near chaos in Parliament on Friday when Deputy Speaker Kagiso Molatlhegi delivered a verdict on the issue in which the Leader of Opposition, Duma Boko was accused of plagiarism by the Minister of Lands and Housing, Prince Maele. Molatlhegi informed Parliament that the heated issue which brought Parliament to a halt two weeks ago was resolved by the Business Advisory Committee which is made up of parties’ Chief whips, Speaker, Leader of the House and Leader of Opposition on Thursday. “The committee has found that indeed there was evidence to the effect that the Leader of Opposition Honourable Duma Boko has plagiarised the government land policy during his budget speech debate,” said Molatlhegi. He said that the committee also agreed that the Hansard should not be changed but remain as it is and be distributed to clients. Molatlhegi announced that he will not allow comments or questions on the issue and this infuriated opposition who felt that the speaker was out of order. Opposition Chief Whip Wynter Mmolotsi stood on point of order, accusing the speaker of having swayed votes to the ruling party during the meeting of the Business Advisory Committee.

The MP for Kanye South, Abram Kesupile, pleaded with the Speaker to allow MPs to know how the committee arrived at the verdict but Molatlhegi had none of it. During the heated debate last month when Minister of Lands and Housing Prince Maele accused Boko of plagiarism, the speaker ordered that the printing of the Hansard should be suspended until the issue is resolved. Maele indicated during his debate that the land policy states that “it is desirable that all land be serviced to ensure delivery of serviced land. Government will continue to encourage and expand private sector participation in land servicing and delivery in all areas of the country.” The Lerala /Maunatlala constituency MP said Boko took the statement from the land policy and made it part of his speech without reference to the policy, and hence accused him plagiarism. Gaolathe, who stood on point on order, said that it was an insult to say that Boko had plagiarised as he was part of the team that prepared his speech. “I can confirm to you that people who inserted that passage had not even been aware that there was that part in the land policy. So to suggest that its plagiarism is a great insult,” he said.

The debate ended with Okavango MP, Bagalatia Aaron, switching off the minister's microphone while he was still on the floor and was consequently sent out of the house for misconduct. Boko, who arrived late in Parliament, rebutted the claims that he had plagiarised government land policy. “The BDP or the Minister or whoever else has absolutely no original intellectual property over anything to do with the servicing of land as a concept or an idea. They absolutely have no original intellectual property even if they might have written it somewhere. It is not their original idea.” “Minister Maele must not come here and fake the funk and claim that there was plagiarism from him or from his government. I find it extremely disrespectful, extremely distasteful and totally unacceptable and I will ask him to withdraw if he doesn’t want us to descend into chaos,” said the livid Boko during the heated debate. Surprisingly, when the verdict was delivered on Friday, Boko MP for Bonnington North, and Gaolathe were not present in Parliament. BCP chief whip Dithapelo Keorapetse said that only six members of the committee attended as Boko was asked to recuse himself and after a tie during voting, the Speaker voted in support of the verdict. In an interview, the UDC chief whip Mmolotsi said that they were shocked by the decision of the Speaker to call for a vote on the matter. “The matter was discussed and it was found that Boko didn’t plagiarise. The Accelerated Land Servicing Policy does not originate from the BDP,” said Mmolotsi. Their efforts to show the speaker that they cannot vote on the matter as plagiarism issue cannot be decided by majority but rather by evidence hit a snag.  “According to the Speaker the issue of plagiarism is about majority not principle,” said Mmolotsi, who is also the Member of Parliament for Francistown South.

Efforts to get comment from Boko were not successful despite numerous calls to his mobile.