BDP Backbench Pits Tsogwane Against Masisi
- Say or else they will take the matter to Parliament and rely on the opposition to swell their numbers
- MPs want improved conditions that include better accommodation and constituency vehicles
- Former MPs also want monthly pensions
The backbench Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is reportedly ready to revolt against the party, should President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Vice President Slumber Tsogwane fail to address their demands for improved conditions of service, sources have told this publication.
The Botswana Gazette is informed that Tsogwane is expected to respond to proposals submitted by the backbench this week as the Leader of the House. Top on the list of the demands are cars for use in their respective constituencies, improved and flexible accommodation and monthly pensions at the end of their tenures as MPs.
Government whip Liakat Kablay told this publication yesterday (Monday) that the proposals were submitted at the beginning of the year and that he hopes the Masisi government will treat them as a matter of urgency.
“To be honest, we can’t continue like this as MPs,” the MP for Letlhakeng said. “We demand better conditions. People should tell a difference between an MP and an ordinary citizen.”
He argued that as elected representatives, their positions come with respect, hence their demands for monthly pensions at the end of their tenure, among others. “In many instances, MPs die poor partly because after we leave or retire, we don’t even have a pension and so we fall on hard times to the point of starvation. We intend to bring this issue up again in the next General Assembly and hopefully Rre Tsogwane will have a positive response.”
He disclosed that a union of former MPs led by Issac Mabiletsa as chairman is lobbying for a motion on pensions.
Backing Kably, was the MP for Molepolole North, Oabile Regoeng, said MPs cannot be seen to be living in hostels as is presently the case. He said they should be able to choose staying in their present ‘hostels’ and looking elsewhere.
Weighing on the matter, the opposition whip Pono Moatlhodi reiterated the same desire for better conditions of service for MPs. “If this item does come in the session, I will personally support it and even ask my colleagues to do the same,” Moatlhodi said. “MPs should be given the respect they deserve.
“As for former MPs getting a pension, I also agree because I have been there and I know how tough it can be. I hope that these items are brought up in the presence of the President and the Vice President because they are the only people who can help resolve these issues.”
Information reaching this publication is that should President Masisi’s administration fail to address the issues, the BDP backbench will be more than ready to take the matter to Parliament as a motion where they will rely on the opposition to swell their numbers.
This publication understands that MPs are given only six slots to use government vehicles in a year. Conditions of service for MPs are reviewed by a specially appointed presidential commission.
DOES VP TSOGWANE REALLY HAVE ANY POWERS?
There is a growing concern by some in the BDP backbench that Tsogwane is under performing, if not failing in his duties as Masisi’s vice. According to a few of these backbenchers who preferred anonymity, Tsogwane has not been able to deliver any answers on most of their concerns addressed to Masisi, they revealed outside parliament last week.
As a result, the MP’s would prefer to work in isolation and hardly consult the party’s leadership on key issues. This was evident in some of their responses to Thapelo Matsheka’s budget speech last month, which in some quarters was deemed a rebellious ‘Anti BDP’ sentiment. Some even went as far as defying the party’s parliament caucus.
“Tsogwane, o kare motho a tshaba Masisi (Tsogwane appears to be very afraid of Masisi),” another MP told this publication last week.
Sources within the party have also confirmed that indeed Tsogwane reported these ‘revolting’ MPs to Masisi.
Several attempts to seek a comment from the BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi this week proved futile as his phone rang unanswered.