When presidential affairs minister Kabo Morwaeng this week expressed concern that referring to others as barking dogs in Parliament is beyond the pale, the opposition asserted equality in the House and accused the minister of behaving like a classroom monitor. Staff Writer LETLHOGILE MPUANG reports
Opposition parties in Parliament have accused the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) of attempting to get the Speaker of the National Assembly to suspend some of their MPs from the House in the January sitting.
This came after the Minister of Presidential Affairs Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng, told Parliament last Friday that the Office of the President (OP) is concerned by the conduct of some MPs who ignore the need for decorum in the House and disregard the honour and integrity of Parliament.
The issue began last week when some MPs of the opposition attacked the Speaker for muting their submissions in a sitting last week, calling it bias that prevented them from engaging in the proceedings. The MPs were Mephato Reatile, Goretetse Kekgonegile and David Tshere.
Morwaeng said he condemned “with contempt” the events of the December parliamentary sitting and described them as very unfortunate and embarrassing. “It is of grave concern to me and government as the nation witnessed violation of (the) integrity and honour that this House represents,” he said.
Characterising the language of some MPs as “repulsive and offensive”, Minister Morwaeng said they were in violation of Standing Order 57.4. “One member of the opposition referred to the other members as ‘barking dogs,” he said. “When the Deputy Speaker asked him to withdraw the statement, he chose to withdraw the word “barking,” implying that Members of the House were dogs.”
In response to Morwaeng, Opposition Whip Molebatsi Molebatsi said they are already aware of a plan by the BDP to “force” the Speaker to suspend some of their members. “The BDP should stop playing cheap politics,” Molebatsi said.
“With the BDP, you should always expect anything. We are aware that they wantto try to get the Speaker to suspend someof our MPs.”
“We must, however, warn them that there is a procedure and we will not accept it. Morwaeng must stop behaving like a class monitor in Parliament. We are all equal in Parliament. We have been duly elected by our voters and we are here representing them.”
Attempts to contact the Speaker, Phandu Skelemani, were unsuccessful as his phone rang unanswered on Tuesday morning