Masisi responds to SONA 

SHARE   |   Monday, 11 December 2017   |   By Hansard
Masisi responds to SONA 

This is part of the response the Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi made to the State of the Nation Address. 

LEADER OF THE HOUSE (MR MASISI): Madam Speaker, I want to thank you for this opportunity this afternoon. Let me apologise in advance, I have a sore throat, so I pray to God that I may be able to drill sense into some before my voice gives in. It is an honour Madam Speaker and privilege to stand before you to proffer a response to His Excellency the President Lieutenant General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s 2017 State of the Nation Address, and I there say his final State of the Nation Address. His Excellency’s SONA, Madam Speaker of 2017 was the most comprehensive, robust, accurate, informative and responsible document for it spoke to the state of our Republic as at 2017. This contrasts well with the mambo jumbo rumble as offered by the Leader of the Opposition on his alternative economic models of Botswana as he offered on the 8th of November 2017. He said Madam Speaker, if you allow me to quote from Page 12. MADAM SPEAKER: Do quote Honourable. MR MASISI: “An alternative economic model for Botswana: UDC will jettison the current economic model in favour of one that; (a) targets a GDP growth rate of 6-8 per cent; (b) seeks an efficient balance between macroeconomic performance on the one hand and outcomes for firms and households on the other; (c) prioritises job creation and economic transformation as central tenets of development management; (d) makes markets work better for inclusion; (e) pays special attention to Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) as the vehicle for economic transformation; and, (f) prioritises policy innovation in pursuit of the above ends.” Clearly Madam Speaker, if the original authors of his other speeches had been the same, the detail would have been different and more comprehensive.  HONOURABLE MEMBER: …(Inaudible)…MR MASISI: There are bigger terms, and my line is serious intervention that speak to the truth and to the position of this Government; this Government today, this Government tomorrow and this Government beyond 2019, Haskins, as we shall surely prevail and as you disintegrate yourselves. We have Madam Speaker, just to note a few of our responses and thoughts on our agenda, the excellent strategy in place. We also have a strategy developed very much on the lines of His Excellency’s strategy by Professor Michael Porter. We have our own National Development Plan (NDP) 11 which is the first bite at Vision 2036 which proffer a very realistic response to the situation on the ground. I say these things fully acknowledging that we had Vision 2016 which did not yield the results we expected as we had for very objective reasons Madam Speaker. One of which was an assumption that our economy would grow at a rate of an excess of 7 per cent per annum which did not materialise. Allow me to begin by thanking the nation of Botswana Madam Speaker, who through their votes resulted in His Excellency the President being the Head of State until the expiration of his term.

Batswana, as they have consistently done in the past 10 General Elections, knowing fully well that their Head of State was to account to them through their elected representatives in Parliament and I say this with emphasis Madam Speaker, because there were spurious allegations or assertions that our President does not respect this august body. But if the evidence is wanted, it can be found. Every State of the Nation Address that was delivered by our President was delivered in this Chamber. If that is not a devotion of respect, I would not know what it is. Every response to Parliamentary questions were in this Chamber by Ministers chosen by His Excellency and other able representatives in his party and they were not so able, but representatives of other parties. I thank our Parliament Madam Speaker most sincerely. I thank you, yourself the Speaker and I thank your staff to the most junior. With a diligence of service to the unique Botswana democratic ideal. It is with humility too that I earnestly applaud and express gratefulness to my colleagues from the opposition led by the chosen leader Advocate Duma Gideon Boko, not forgetting the Independent Member Honourable Moremi and the newest kid on the block, the Alliance for Progressives (AP). I thank you, for in your presence of whatever significance it is, has actually oiled our democratic dispensation in this country. All these formations have succeeded, have been created or came about, have even mutated under the leadership of His Excellency the President, free of their own will. Ke gore you reproduce yourselves. What do you want? No hindrance, that is the epitome of a democrat and yet if you hear the voices of doom coming from people who are a manifestation of democratic dispensation and tolerance, one can only give up. Let me also Madam Speaker most heartily thank Honourable Members who are on my side for their commitment to the service of Botswana expressed through their diligent, loyalty to the leadership of His Excellency Lieutenant General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama, the President of the Republic of Botswana and the President of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). I say this Madam Speaker as Leader of the House, for I have listened to my colleagues, one after the other, extolling praise and admiration, even from some of the unlikely sources, whether spiritually given, motivated or not, I must applaud you for this rare gesture of sincerity and honesty. Madam Speaker, the constitutional term of His Excellency comes to an automatic end on the 31st March 2018, midnight to be precise. The Parliamentary calendar begins, as always in Botswana, with the State of the Nation Address by the President in November of each year. This year 2018 by logical deduction marks the year in which the last November passed with the current His Excellency as the President. This was his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) dear colleagues.

Therefore, I am glad that we have been offered an opportunity to all comment. When the Speaker called to caution me that there were a number of members who had not spoken from both sides of the aisle, I decided to yield part of my time so that you give and offer your respect to his last SONA. I must hasten to add that the moment His Excellency the President set the stage for this House to reflect on the SONA, Batswana had expected all Members of Parliament to engage meaningfully on the issues covered in the address. Suffice to say, the people of Botswana appreciate the practical and realistic interventions to the issues that affect their lives as opposed to one realistic claims made by some members of the opposition who continue to fail in their Parliamentary duties. Since independence Madam Speaker, Botswana has had an impressive economic record that has been built on the discovery of diamonds, but leveraged on prudent fiscal policies, international financial and technical assistance, and a very pragmatic foreign policy. The last visages of pragmatism of that foreign policy Madam Speaker were exemplified a few weeks ago, when the usual sounds of doom were silenced by the pronouncements of a pragmatic nature by His Excellency’s position on the goings-on in a country not too far from us. For once, there was silence from across the aisle in full embrace, consonance and agreement with His Excellency’s position. They were a little shy to say it Madam Speaker, so they have asked me to say it on their behalf. MR MMOLOTSI: Correction Madam Speaker. HONOURABLE MEMBERS: … (Murmurs)... MR MMOLOTSI: Go simolola leng di seyo Madam Speaker? MADAM SPEAKER: No! No! Ga re nke re dira jalo. Le fa Honourable Boko a ne a eme fa a bua, mongwe ka foo o ne a re point of order, ka bo ke kgalema. So, a ko fela re reetseng. HONOURABLE MEMBER: Ee, nako e a tsamaya. MR MMOLOTSI: No! Point of order Madam Speaker. HONOURABLE MEMBERS: Mo kobe. MR MMOLOTSI: Point of order ga e yo? MADAM SPEAKER: Nnyaa, that is wrong. Tota fela re tshela re supa that respect. We did that… MR MMOLOTSI: But we are governed by the Standing Orders Madam Speaker. MADAM SPEAKER: Mongwe o ne a ema a re point of order Honourable Boko a eme gone fale and I said, shhh! HONOURABLE MEMBER: O ganne. MADAM SPEAKER: So, a ko re tswelele. MR MMOLOTSI: So, we suspended the Standing Orders? MADAM SPEAKER: A ko re tswelele Honourable Mmolotsi. HONOURABLE MEMBER: Behave. MR MASISI: Honourable Mmolotsi, my younger brother, drink some water. HONOURABLE MEMBER: …(Laughter!)… MR MASISI: It will do you good.

You will recall Madam Speaker, that at independence, Botswana was among the poorest of the poor countries in the world, with a predominantly agricultural economy, characterised by scarcity of water, lack of social amenities and very little infrastructure to speak about. This Government is doing what it has always done since independence and that is to put its people first, go baya batho pele, le bo Mmatli tota. To continue on this journey, His Excellency led in the generation of a national long-term Vision 2036. He launched it as part of our 50th anniversary of independence celebrations. Here, I need to remind that these on the main were boycotted by others present in this House Madam Speaker. Here was a Government; a nation, a people led by a President and a party that had the audacity to dream and dream big, looking into the future. Madam Speaker, dreams are bigger than paintings. We dreamt and dreamt big for this country, despite the smallest of our population, the smallest of our economy and the youthfulness of our independence. We dreamt big and looked into the future nationally. There was a national debate, discussion, input, devoid of religious or political ethnic interference, a true national document emerged. We did so Madam Speaker, because it was plausible. In this Botswana, the dream that was dreamt is plausible. It can only be plausible because of what has been done in the basis on which this dream was founded, plausible. It may only be plausible I dare say Madam Speaker, by the vigor and the output of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). I say this with confidence for I know even in the opposition ranks, BDP thinkers make up the majority of what is in the opposition. So, the basis of this dream is but a contribution of some of our... Members like Honourable Mangole, Honourable Ndaba, Honourable Mmolotsi, Honourable Butale, Honourable Kgoroba, Honourable Mokgware, Honourable Mmatli, Honourable Nkaigwa le Honourable Tawana which people except for a few, have every reason to have thanked His Excellency in their personal capacities. For it was he who made them, Members of Parliament initially. He signed for you to be a Member of Parliament before you defected. He signed for you to be a candidate, before you defected. It is a fact. So, your luck at coming here was due to the benevolence of His Excellency. It is just an omission Madam Speaker, I will do it on their behalf, they had intended to thank His Excellency publicly. My role Madam Speaker, among others as the Leader of the House, is to offer responses to His Excellency the President on the State of the Nation Address. I have elected to reflect in giving additional meaning to His Excellency’s address and in some instances respond to the responses from Honourable Members of Parliament(MPs); both my colleagues from the friendlier side of the House and to those from the not so friendly side of the House. We are responding Madam Speaker; I might remind in this House. I shall borrow literally from a book that I have began to read given to me by one of our eminent scholars in the field of Political Science, Professor David Sebudubudu of the University of Botswana (UB). The book is titled “Botswana’s Parliamentary Democracy revisited”. Madam Speaker, I will quote from page 3 of that book if you permit me as I do ask.  MADAM SPEAKER: Do quote your Honour. 

MR MASISI: Under the sub heading, “functions of Parliament”; “Parliament has a number of functions in Botswana’s elsewhere, in the world. Some functions outlined in the constitutions while others are the usual roles of Parliament in liberal democracy, even if they are not explicitly stated in the Constitution. First Parliament is a national representative institution of the people of Botswana. It is chosen by the people to represent them. It thus has a direct mandate from the people, which Linz (1990, 1994) refers to as “democratic legitimacy”. Although individual MPs represent specific geographical constituencies, Parliament collectively represents the people of Botswana. As such, it is the link between the people and their Government. It is through Parliament that the people communicate with Government and vice versa.  Passing legislation is the second and principal constitutional function of Parliament. Section 86 of Botswana’s Constitution states that, “Parliament shall have the power to make laws for the peace, order, and good Government of Botswana”. However, as in many of the democracies legislation in Botswana is denominate by the Executive branch. Parliament’s function in law making has been reduced to scrutinizing and approving laws initiated by the Executive (Fombad 2005; Sebudubudu and Osei – Hwedi 2006). With law making dominated by the Executive, Parliament’s direct role in law making is thus limited to Private Members’ Bills and the amendments of the existing laws (Fombad 2005). However, until recently Private Members’ Bills have not generally been forth coming (Sebudubudu and Osei – Hwedi 2006).  The third function of Government is to control the use of public finances. It authorizes or approves the country’s annual expenditure. This process starts off with the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, presenting to Parliament, estimates of the revenue and expenditure for the coming year. Through the Appropriations Bill, Parliament approves the sums of money necessary to cover the estimates of expenditure presented to Parliament by the Finance and Economic Development Minister. If the approved estimates of money are found to be insufficient, only Parliament can approve supplementary funds through a supplementary Appropriation Bill. The Constitution of Botswana Section 119; (1), (2), (3). Furthermore, loans and other financial agreements that the Government of Botswana enters into need to be approved first by Parliament, as they are repaid from the Consolidated Fund or the Government purse. (Nsereko 2002, Page 117). HONOURABLE MEMBER: …(Inaudible)… MR MASISI: Mr Sereko, yes. HONOURABLE MEMBER: …(Inaudible)… MR MASISI: O ne a ruta kwa UB, yes.               

HONOURABLE MEMBER: …(Inaudible)… MR MASISI: Law, I think. His Excellency Madam Speaker, correctly informed that Cabinet appointed him in the State of the Nation Address, as a Vision Champion. He stated further that it was… I quote if you permit me from the State of the Nation Address of 2017. MADAM SPEAKER: Do quote. MR MASISI: On page 1, “a commitment I look forward to pursuing in the coming years” that was His Excellency so saying. I wish to confirm that indeed the Cabinet, in the absence of His Excellency the President himself, made that decision consciously and fully aware of what it meant. I, Madam Speaker chaired that Cabinet meeting with no brief except authority to freely decide on it following advice from the Cabinet on my own. I can safely state it is a decision I own and I might add one of quite a number that I either, through and with the Cabinet’s support or in the quite of my office have made as wheels of transition begin to churn axiomatically. Madam Speaker, these realities are not of President Khama’s or Vice President Masisi’s making-  they are obligatory in our Constitution, and all we are doing is ensuring that the process is as seamless and hurdle free as possible for the good of this country and its people. [Hansard]