For the umpteenth time Members of Parliament (MPs) from across the political divide have complained about poor salaries that have long been eroded by inflationary pressures over the years. Supporting the National Assembly Salaries and Allowances amendment Bill -which seeks to effect a three per cent upwards review of their salaries -shortly before Parliament went into recess last week MPs spoke with one voice and displayed unity rarely seen in the august house.
Sethomo Lelatisitswe of Boteti East said while the increment is a welcome development, salaries have long been eroded by inflation. His counterpart from Gaborone North Haskings Nkaigwa dismissed the offer as an insult to MPs. He said it is sad that Batswana depend on handouts and donations because the country's wealth is not in the hands of citizens.
Ramotswa MP Samuel Rantuana expressed disappointment that the three per cent offer had long been agreed upon without the input of Parliament while Major General Pius Mokgware of Gabane-Mmankgodi argued that it is necessary for national leaders such as MPs and dikgosi to be remunerated well given the role they play in building the nation. Mokgware, however, highlighted the importance of having in place an independent body that reviews salaries of MPs, noting that the review by Parliament of legislators’ salaries does not augur well for good governance standards and often appears inapproppriate in the eyes of the public.
Kanye North MP, Patrick Ralotsia said MPs, like every working Motswana deserve the three per cent salary increment, but like Mokgware said it does not sit well in the eyes of the public for legislators to be reviewing their own salaries. Ralotsia said it is imperative that there should be a body responsible for reviewing legislators’ salaries. Also supporting the Bill Mahalapye East MP Botlogile Tshireletso commended government for establishing a Parliamentary Service Commission that will among other things review MPs’ salaries.
Francistown West legislator Ignatius Moswaane also supported the establishment of a Parliamentary Service Commission. He said legislators lack dignity in the eyes of the business community on whom they often rely for assistance. He suggested that the Parliamentary Service Commission report to Parliament and not to the President. MP Dithapelo Keorapetse of Selebi Phikwe West shared the same sentiments that some former MPs were plunged into destitution due to the poor pay legislators receive in Botswana.
Appealing for the de-linking of MPs’ salaries from those of public officers, Moswaane also emphasised the need for the Parliamentary Service Commission to be fully independent, saying it is only then that it would be effective.