The first session of the 11th parliament came to an end on Friday and many people expected fireworks judging by the performance of the opposition in the 2014 general elections garnering 20 seats, which was a historic feat.
The beginning of the 11th parliament was characterized by drama as it was delayed due to the ‘hands up’ case in which President Ian Khama took parliament to court over the voting procedure for the nomination of Speaker of the national assembly, his/her deputy and the endorsement of the Vice President. The court ruled in favour of parliament and it seems the case took some steam from MPs as they failed to rise to the occasion during their response to the state of the nation address. The debate was lukewarm and there was nothing to write home about except for one or two debates from MPs.
Next was the 2015/16 budget speech which really showed that MPs were still dozing from the 2014 elections campaigns as only four legislators responded to the budget speech. The once mighty Botswana Congress Party (BCP) was the worst performer as their three MPs failed to state their alternative budget.
But what makes a good Member of Parliament?
To begin with, they clock regular attendance at parliament but not to seat in the swinging comfortable seats but participate in debates and ask questions which are relevant. They also have to raise issues important to their constituencies as they are sent by voters to the capital city to advocate for issues affecting them.
Top 5 best MPs
Biggie Butale- Tati West
He is one of the new comers in the 11th parliament and the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawmaker did not waste time hitting the ground running and challenging some of the policies of his government. The shy looking former President of Evangelical Fellowship of Botswana (EFB) has displayed more enthusiasm and energy and has the interest of his constituencies at heart. In his maiden debate as he responded to the state of the nation address, Butale, a lawyer by profession called on government to repeal the law on sedition. He has asked relevant questions that deal with his constituency. With most opposition MPs still in slumberland, Butale could easily be mistaken for an opposition MP.
A true proponent of transformation and reform within government and his party, Butale is surely the epitome of the adage ‘dynamites come in small packages’.
Dithapelo Keorapetse- Selibe Phikwe West
The youngest MP in parliament, Keorapetse did not allow the poor performance of his party, BCP, to derail him and proved why he is one of the few BCP politicians to have been taken to parliament. He is a fierce debater and knows when to speak and to keep quiet and listen. Most of his questions and motions are well researched and relevant.
Major General Pius Mokgware- Gabane/Mmankgodi
One of the most disciplined MPs and is not surprising as he is former member of the disciplined forces, Botswana Defence Force. He is always punctual in parliament and has high respect for authority especially the speaker and her deputy.
Mokgware is a true representative of the people of Gabane/Mmankgodi but not forgetting national issues. The former ground forces commander is also inquisitive about dealings in the army especially the awarding of tenders. Though he is an opposition lawmaker, Mokgware knows where to give credit when it is due.
Dr. Phenyo Butale- Gaborone Central
He is proving that he did not win the constituency by fluke but has what it takes to represent the people of Gaborone Central which include the state president. His performance in the first session of the 11th parliament and good attendance of parliament session shows that he takes his legislative work seriously.
Ignatius Moswaane- Francistown West
The maverick and dramatic politician has brought militancy into parliament, something which is normally associated with opposition MPs. He is not afraid of taking his government to task especially on issues that affect the youth. Recently he caused drama in parliament when he broke his spectacles on the parliamentary floor during the debate of the societies act bill which is aimed at increasing the number of people required to register a church.
He once accused the Speaker Gladys Kokorwe of hating him and vowed never to say anything when she is in charge of parliamentary proceedings. The BDP legislator’s main undoing is his late coming to parliament which is now perennial and his short temper but he is one of the best performers.
Five worst performers
Tawana Moremi-Maun West
He can be described as the most truant MP to have ever graced Botswana parliament as he did the same in the 10th parliament. The last time the Batawana paramount chief was seen in parliament was after the presentation of the 2015/16 budget speech during the eating of the light meals. Since then he can only be heard posting status on social media.
Same Bathobakae- Tlokweng
She is the only female MP on the backbench and second opposition woman legislator after Dr Habaudi Hubona who only lasted for seven months in parliament. Before she came to parliament, Bathobakae was hailed as the iron lady of politics and christened ‘Kwankwetla’ but it seems she is failing to live to that reputation.
Bathobakae has a potential to prove that women can do well as opposition MPs and participate in debates instead of just smiling. She should look for the old hansards and read what other women legislators used to advocate for especially, Margaret Nasha, Dr Hubona and the current speaker Gladys Kokorwe.
She can also learn a lot from Minister of Health Dorcus Makgato who is always taking her male counterparts head on without being shaken.
The first and last time the voice of Chobe constituency MP was heard was when he took a vow of allegiance to the constitution of Botswana.
He is from a constituency which is lagging behind in development although it is the heartbeat of Botswana tourism but Shamukani has been dead quiet. The youthful BDP MP is making disservice to the poor people of Chobe who thought he will well represent them.
Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Thobega Molefe- Mahalapye West
Most of the retired army officers who joined parliament have set a high standard by their contributions and a lot was expected from Lt. Colonel Molefe who was once accused of leading soldiers in Francistown in 2001 to revolt against the president and army commander.
Molefe has failed what his two predecessors the immediate past Bernard Bolele and the late General Mompati Merafhe has done as political representative of Mahalapye West.
Isaac Davids-Mochudi West
He is coming to parliament for the second time and it seems the once militant politician nicknamed ‘fokon bastard’ has lost his political steam. The only time he is making action in parliament is when standing up the speaker enters parliament or to go and drink tea at the makeshift parliamentary café.
Davids seems to be lost and doesn’t know what is going in the current parliament.