Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) MPs have accused the ruling party and the Speaker of the national assembly Gladys Kokorwe of deploying dirty tactics in order to muzzle them and pave way for a bill that will grant President Ian Khama a lucrative retirement package. Speaking during a press conference on Thursday Opposition Chief Whip in Parliament Wynter Mmolotsi accused Kokorwe and the ruling party of conniving to frustrate opposition MPs and having exhumed a long forgotten standing order to chastise them. He said Standing Order 60.4, which among others gives the Speaker powers to name an MP who can subsequently be suspended from the house, has been brought to the attention of the for the sole purpose of using it to intimidate opposition MPs. The recent suspension of two opposition MPs; Dithapelo Keorapetse of Selebi-Phikwe West and Haskins Nkaigwa of Gaborone North from attending Parliament business for a week, according to Mmolotsi, were just the beginning of what theSspeaker and the ruling party have in plan for opposition MPs. He said the ruling party is fully aware that opposition MPs would never back them in passing draconian and unfair laws which among others include the proposed bill which will grant President Khama a lucrative retirement package. “No legislator in their right mind will back such a bill, so in order to silence us Kokorwe has been instructed to use standing order 60. 4 to chase us from the house and decrease our numbers,” he said.
This, he says, will even be made worse by the fact that the ruling party wants to increase the number of specially elected MPs and the number of cabinet posts from 16 to 18, which, while are being marketed as government intervention of speeding efficient service delivery are in fact going to be used to buy loyalty from BDP MPs. The Opposition Whip accused Kokorwe of continuing to display increasing acts of dictatorship, blatant bias and partisan favouritism despite objections from the opposition. This will lead to opposition MPs failing to participate productively in the house, he said. “We have come to a point where the Speaker and her deputy are incompetent for the posts they hold and we want government to reconsider the decision to appoint them,” charged Mmolotsi. The leader of the House, Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi, is no different from Kokorwe and instead of stabilising and brokering peace in the house he openly defends the ruling party and bad mouth opposition members, said Mmolotsi. Masisi issued a statement on Wednesday after Mogoditshane MP Sedirwa Kgoroba threw a bottle across the house hitting the Deputy Speaker in the process. MP for Gaborone Central Phenyo Butale, dismissed a statement made by Masisi in which the latter condemned what he termed ‘the growing incidents of unruly behaviour that have transpired in the house’. “Despite the fact that extreme provocation was meted against Honourable Kgoroba by Honourable Kgathi, Masisi ignored this and instead attacked the former. His statement stand to polarise the house even further,” said Butale.
According to Butale, Masisi and Kokorwe are a good example of leadership deficiency and though they want to pin the blame on ordinary members of the house they are in fact to blame. “They should always rise above divisions and bring sanity to the house. Masisi is even worse as he is easily excited by partisan politics in the house,” he said. For his part Maun West MP Tawana Moremi said it was pity that although opposition MPs are targets of the ruling party’s unfair tactics, its MPs were also feeling the heat. “They are also forced to support anything that the party wants even if they maybe against it, it’s a pity that most are influenced by politics of the stomach,” he said.