The factional crisis within the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has escalated to the Parliament floor where some MPs are now threatening to block Government business to twist the hand of President Mokgweetsi Masisi into offering them a salary increase. This is in line with the recently announced pay increments for public servants
On Tuesday the BDP parliamentary caucus chaired by Deputy Secretary General Shaw Kgathi – the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security – some MPs threatened not to approve the national budget.
Leading the debate the MP for Francistown West Ignatius Moswaane said he would vote against the national budget until their conditions of service were addressed especially their salaries.
“If we approve this budget without our concerns being addressed that will be the end of us. We will never have salary increment. The only solution is to vote against this budget,” he is allegedly to have told the caucus.
His statement, which allegedly enjoyed support from some disgruntled BDP MPs and some cabinet ministers, sent panic in the Government Enclave. A junior minister, whose name is known to this publication, was to mobilise support from opposition MPs and ensure that the budget was rejected by Parliament, revealed a source.
This forced President Mokgweetsi Masisi to cancel his international trip to South Africa where he was to attend a SADC meeting. He sent rather his deputy, Slumber Tsogwane, to attend the meeting.
“When he was briefed about the caucus meeting President Masisi who was about to board OK1 to South Africa. He made a hasty return and decided to attend parliament in the afternoon,” intimated one of the officials at the Office of the President.
Masisi attended parliament in the afternoon something that surprised some MPs. Sanity prevailed as the national budget was approved with the full support of opposition MPs.
Passing a remark the deputy speaker, Kagiso Molatlhegi, said that some are not voting and wonder why.
“Others are not voting. Honourable Kablay, I cannot hear your voice,” he said referring to Member of Parliament for Letlhakeng Liakat Kablay.
On the Appropriation (2019/2020) Bill, 2019 (No. 1 of 2019) a division was declared calling for voting which resulted in 31 MPs supporting the bill while six voted against it.
The six MPs, who voted against the bill, are suspected to be some MPs from the ruling party who are still aggrieved that their salaries have not been increased.
Plans to work with opposition
The 13 MPs though some of them supported the bill are said to have vowed that they will frustrate the government until their concerns are addressed.
“They have vowed that they will work with the opposition and ensure that most of the bills that government tries to come with do not pass,” revealed a source.
Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness Biggie Butale, who was recently fingered as the MP who is going to bring a motion of No Confidence against President Masisi, has rubbished the allegations.
“I am a member of the executive and there is no way I can pass Motion of No Confidence on myself because am part of government even the law bars me from doing that,” he said.
Masisi debates in Parley
Since then Masisi has been a constant presence in Parliament and on Thursday he backed a private member’s bill by MP for Ramotswa, Samuel Rantuana that sort to repel the Electoral Act that allowed the use of Electoral Voting Machine.
When debating the bill, Masisi said it was normal for government to repel laws that are unpopular among members of the public, such as the use of EVMs during elections. He said government took a decision not to use the EVM machines in this year’s general elections following consultations with leaders of the opposition.
It was the first time in a long time that a sitting President has stood to debate in Parliament.