Africa-Press – Botswana. Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) MPs will no longer be allowed to refer to former president Ian Khama during debates in the upcoming winter Parliament session, particularly in comparison with President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
New Parliament Standing Orders will be used by the party to ensure that Masisi gains respect from both MPs and the nation. Sources close to the developments have revealed that BDP MPs have been ordered not to mention the Khama name anymore while debating as that enables opposition MPs to attack the incumbent -Masisi.
It is said Masisi has noticed how he is losing popularity owing to the onslaught by opposition MPs whenever BDP MPs compare his government to that of Khama. “As part of amendments to be made to Standing Orders the name of President Masisi should not crop up in debates. The BDP MPs are also expected to refrain from mentioning Khama’s name in debates. MPs are expected to lead from the front to protect the image and integrity of the President against opposition attack,” said a source close to the developments.
Through the anticipated changes to Parliament business, which will be brought by Minister of State President, Kabo Morwaeng, the Leader of the House and vice President Slumber Tsogwane will enjoy a lion’s share during debates to advance Government position.
According to impeccable sources, more time will be allocated to Tsogwane to ov ershadow the presence of opposition Members of Parliament or their contribution. “Tsogwane and cabinet ministers will be in charge of Parliament and will quash all important matters brought by the opposition. The plan is designed to neutralise the contribution of opposition MPs who damage the BDP government in their debates,” a source alleged.
Efforts to contact BDP parliamentary Chief Liakat Kablay were futile as his phone was off at press time. The Chairperson of Parliamentary committee on standing Orders and Reforms, Leepetswe Lesedi who is an MP for Serowe South could not be reached for comment as he did no take calls into his mobile phone.
Meanwhile independent political analyst Kitso Morekisi said new orders will kill parliament. He said the BDP is showing signs of panic hence its reaction will compromise important matters. “Parliament is a very important national forum for the making laws and policies that act as the catalyst for socio-economic prosperity. Parliament will be reduced to a BDP ground to push its agenda. Quality of debates will be compromised and we will have a weak parliament,” he said.
In addition, he said the amendment that speaker shall not debate any matter in parliament is just a way to take away his powers while the cabinet ministers will be in full charge of the house.
He went on to buttress that the quality of performance put by the opposition MPs in bringing very strategic motions or bills to parliament is causing panic to the BDP hence the new orders.“The beaming of parliament in state media television and other platforms have made a lot of harm to the BDP without any doubt. In most instances, the opposition aisle outshine the BDP. It won’t be surprising if broadcasting of parliament can come to an end. BDP is under pressure,” he said.
Morwaeng has also stated that in his proposed amendments for consideration paper seen by this publication is that the name of the President shall not be used in the derogatory manner, disrespectfully or impute improper motives in the person of the President in any Parliamentary debate. “The Leader of the House must be allowed more time than other recognized leaders during all debates in order to represent the government’s position. This buttresses Standing Order 53.4. The Speaker shall be a non-voting member of any committee. The speaker shall not be allowed to debate any matter in parliament,” said Morwaeng in proposals that drawn public criticism towards BDP.
Morwaeng has on several occasions presented statements before parliament urging the house members to extend their respect and accord Masisi the dignity that he deserve as state president. In the last Parliament session, he indicated that some members of the house especially from opposing aisle have made it a norm to disrespect head of state accusing him of corruption among other things. However, the opposition MPs maintained that Masisi must earn respect and not demands it.