• More MPs accuse Molatlhegi of oppression
• Speaker defends her deputy
• General Assembly discuss Parliament fracas?
Deputy Speaker Kagiso Molatlhegi's popularity in parliament has slided into a downward spiral after accusations of being heavy handed and oppressive in controlling debates resurfaced this week, with more MPs from the ruling party joining the fray.
The onslaught on Molatlhegi started early March when Francistown West MP Ignatius Moswaane paralysed debates in parliament after the deputy speaker barred him from presenting a motion calling for an investigation at Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) over allegations of maladministration. The controversy continued this week. While some critics are accusing members of the 11th parliament of lacking seriousness and acting unparliamentary, others are putting the blame on Molatlhegi, saying he is failing to control the house.
On Wednesday while debating the proposed amendments to the Societies Act Tati West MP Biggie Butale swore he was prepared to give up his life if the bill is passed; Moswaane broke his spectacles in protest, Sefhare/Ramokgonami MP Dorcus Makgato threatened to strip naked if the bill is repealed whilst Mahalapye East MP Botlogile Tshireletso broke down in tears accusing the Deputy speaker of picking on her and being biased after he declined her to lodge a point of order. Molatlhegi refused to be interviewed on the issue saying the Speaker's office is the relevant office to respond.
Be that as it may, the Speaker of the National Assembly Gladys Kokorwe has defended the conduct of the house she leads, saying all is well in parliament. According to Kokorwe although two members of the house are on record accusing the Deputy Speaker of being biased and having a personal vendetta against them, there is no cause for alarm.
Kokorwe said if Molatlhegi had been unreasonable and unfair to any member of the house she could have been notified. “So far no complaint has been forwarded to me,” said Kokorwe. She further downplayed the Wednesday afternoon occurrences saying it was normal parliament proceedings. "Although people think MPs should always be uptight and focus their attention on debates sometimes one or two jokes here and there are necessary,” said the speaker. Adding that people should not expect parliament proceedings to be like funerals where the mood is somber and serious.
Although she missed the Wednesday debates because she was not in parliament buildings she appealed to the nation that there is no reason to panic. “I know Dorcus Makgato, she will never undress in parliament, she holds herself in high regard, ne go tshamekwa,” said Kokorwe.
About the two MPs who accused Molatlhegi of being biased against them, Kokorwe claimed that what they said in parliament was just good old politicking that should not be really taken serious. “Yes I heard Mma Tshireletso cried but you have to understand that some people are naturally emotional. They will always cry when something provokes their emotions. It doesn’t matter the place or time,” she said.
With regard to Moswaane, Kokorwe said although the MP might have felt prejudiced by the deputy speaker, the truth of the matter is that there was nothing the Deputy speaker could have done to abate the situation as set parliamentary procedures had to be followed. She said Molatlhegi and Moswaane are now in good terms. “Yes, he might have felt that way and rightfully so, but his motion was eventually allowed in the house and all is well. Gape le nna okile a nthaya a re ke mo tlhoile maloba albeit not really meaning it,” said Kokorwe.
Kokorwe further dismissed reports that the matter made it into the General Assembly agenda on Thursday after fears that emotions were still high and more drama might still be witnessed in the house during Societies Amendment Bill debates. “The General Assembly meet every week on Thursday, it wasn’t convened to discuss the alleged fracas,” she said.