- Say suspensions could bring more division to ailing party
- Want consultation in government affairs
Renegade MP for Francistown West, Ignatius Moswaane, cast his shadow over the Botswana Democratic Party yesterday (Tuesday) when the party’s back benchers warned President Mokgweetsi Masisi against his suddenly hard line approach to ‘wayward’ members, The Botswana Gazette has established.
Although details have been hard to come by beyond confirmation of the meeting by chief whip Liakat Kablay and the MP for Mmadinare Molebatsi Molebatsi, news of this serious concern has been filtering through to The Gazette since. Some of the backbenchers reportedly told Masisi that his uncompromising attitude may breed more division within the BDP at a time when the party is already ailing.
A few who asked for anonymity say a great deal of concern was expressed around two main issues: the recent spate of suspensions from membership of the party by Masisi and his lack of consultation in the running of the government.
Led by Molebatsi, the back benchers reportedly took Masisi to task over his suspension of Moswaane and the MP for Jwaneng-Mabutsane Mephato Reatile, demanding a clear explanation from the President. In their letters of suspension signed by Masisi, who is also the President of the BDP, said the two had brought the party into disrepute. Moswaane has since resigned from the BDP while Reatile has confirmed that he has been in contact with opposition parties. The MP for Nata-Gweta, Paulson Majaga, remains under suspension after he attracted police attention for allegations of sexual offences.
Some of the backbenchers who cannot be openly quoted say Masisi was told that continued suspensions could bring instability to the party. “President Masisi needs to tone down a bit and stop these suspensions,” said one the back benchers. “He needs to find better and amicable ways of resolving issues. As back benchers, we are extremely worried that these suspensions may force some MPs to defect.”
Although the BDP constitution empowers the party President with powers to suspend a member, Reatile and Moswaane hold the view that their suspensions were unconstitutional. They also say democracy within the BDP has deteriorated under Masisi.
Regarding consultation in governance, the back benchers reportedly decried not being involved in cabinet decisions before and after they are made. “Together with cabinet minister, we are all MPs of the BDP and we also want what is in the best interests of the BDP manifesto,” said another back bencher. “We made promises during election campaigns that we now need to fulfil.”
It has emerged that government’s decision for live parliamentary sessions to be broadcast live was also an issue because the backbenchers were not consulted beforehand. Ahead of the July Parliament sitting, reports suggested that some MPs of the BDP were poised to block broadcasting proceedings live.
It is said in the end, Masisi promised to revert to the back benchers with answers in due course. The Secretary General of the party, Mpho Balopi, said the gathering should not be misinterpreted as having been a crisis meeting but should be regarded as a part of Masisi’s efforts to promote consultation among stakeholders.