• As parliament adopts the 2015/16 budget proposal without their input
Members of Parliament for the minority party in parliament, Botswana Congress Party (BCP), were caught off guard last Thursday and all failed to respond to the budget speech forcing the deputy speaker Kagiso Molatlhegi to close the debate.
In 2008 the then leader of opposition Otsweletse Moupo was caught off guard and failed to respond to the state of the nation address, first of its kind in Botswana politics. It was later alleged that this was a Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) strategy to discredit and ridicule the former Botswana National Front (BNF) president.
By the time the debates on the 2015/16 budget were closed on Thursday only four members of parliament had responded to the budget speech. They are the leader of opposition Duma Boko, Letlhakeng East MP Liakat Kablay, Francistown West Member of Parliament Ignatius Moswaane and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) chief whip Wynter Mmolotsi.
The deputy speaker called on the Minister of Finance and Development Kenneth Matambo to respond to the debates. While Matambo was still responding to the deliberations by the four members of parliament, Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi passed him a note from Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Upon reading the note, Matambo informed the house that he cannot respond to the debates as he was scheduled to make the response on the 19th of February. “Mr. Speaker it is difficult for me to respond to the debates from members of parliament as I was not supposed to respond now. Members from the other side of the aisle have not given us their alternative budget,” said Matambo as he moved the house to adopt the 2015/16 budget proposal.
He defended the BDP MPs noting that there was no need for them to respond to his budget speech as it was a collective work from the ruling party. In an interview Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West Dithapelo Keorapetse admitted that they were caught off guard by the BDP as they expected to respond to the budget next week. “President Dumelang Saleshando was supposed to address a press conference on Monday (tomorrow) where he will give the BCP position on the budget speech thus setting the tone. In the afternoon of the same day our leader in parliament Bagalatia Aarone was to give our position,” said the disappointed BCP youth league president.
He said that they were disappointed on what transpired in parliament but was optimistic that the public will know their view regarding the budget speech.