- BDP backbench somersault
- BDP will own the motion-Mokgware
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) MPs have once again used their majority in parliament to defeat Ghanzi North MP Noah Salakae’s motion seeking government to end the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC)’s export monopoly.
During the debate on Friday morning, BDP MPs, mostly from the backbench openly supported the motion and applauded Salakae stating that regardless of party affiliation, they whole heartedly support him.
But it would later turn out, after a ruling by Deputy Speaker Kagiso Molatlhegi, that BDP MPs including those that excitedly supported the motion, somersaulted and voted against it. Results following a vote showed that those that supported the motion were 13 while those that were against it were 15 and 2 MPs abstained from voting.
Observations from the press gallery showed that 11 Opposition MPs voted for the motion, while Shawn Nthaile of Jwaneng/Mabutsane told The Botswana Gazette on the sidelines that though he supported the motion, he opted to abstain due to the fact that he had some reservations with some of the pointers on the motion.
“I had a discussion with the mover of the motion at one point in time and I shared with him my reservations,” Nthaile said.
Earlier during the debate, Kostantinos Markus (Maun East), Sethomo Lelatisitswe (Boteti East) and Paulson Majaga (Nata/Gweta) openly supported the motion.
MP Samson Moyo Guma accused government of pumping money into BMC, which he described as a “dead entity”. Guma said the BMC is draining the taxman’s coffers when it is “nonexistent” in a constitutional context. Also on the sidelines, Guma told this publication that he abstained from voting. MP Thato Kwerepe also supported the motion but decried low prices and delays by BMC in payments to farmers.
While still visibly stunned, MP for Gabane/Mmankgodi Major Gen. Pius Mokgware, rose on a point of order, telling the house that he does not accept the results. He questioned the credibility of Parliament Electronic Voting Machine. “I think we should pause for a while Mr Speaker, because we need to check the credibility. 15 MPs voted against the motion but the question that everyone in the house- especially from the opposition side was, why did the BDP backbench decide otherwise, in what seemed to be a majority house support of the motion. Though supporting the motion, he suggested that government should be the regulator within the context of liberalization of BMC.
Maun West MP, Tawana Moremi expressed concern on the lengthy period of consultations in the liberalization process conducted by government. He also concurred with Guma that government has long been protecting an unsustainable project, also terming it as economically fragile.
For his part, Specially Elected MP, Eric Molale said no one in the house disagrees with the motion but stated that it is unfortunate that when the motion was tabled, already progress and a decision had been made by government to solve challenges faced by the BMC. Molale said BMC was not dead but should be revamped in a way it could protect the farmers.
He also said liberalization does not only mean stopping exportation of beef but also curbing exportation of live cattle across Botswana borders. Molale suggested that there be opportunities for potential businesses to export processed meat but with a regulatory body. He said exportation of finished products can create employment for locals through the local processing industry.
Making a point of Order, under section 47 (1) of the Standing Orders, Molale suggested that the motion be rephrased as, “Request Government to expedite the transformation of BMC in order to end its export monopoly”. However, Deputy Speaker Molatlhegi, after consultation with Parliamentary Counsel, ruled against Molale’s move stating that it is against the Standing Order 47.2.
“Wait and see, they are going to bring back the motion so that they can get the credit themselves especially that the elections are nearing. Going forward we will tell the electorates about the failure by the BDP to support the motion. Already the farmers are angry as we speak,” pointed out Gabane/Mankgodi’s Mokgware.
For his part MP for Gaborone-Bonnington North, also Leader of Opposition, Duma Boko said Botswana’s parliament is not independent citing instances where BDP MPs are not free to voice their opinions in parliament. He said the BDP has introduced a system in parliament where in times of debates, party leadership can dictate voting strategies against opposition MPs, even genuine circumstances of motions debated.
“What happened today is a clear sign that BDP MPs do not represent the ideas and wishes of their electorates but party agendas. We cannot just watch these unfolding events and shy away from them but we will accordingly interact with Batswana so as to let them know of such BDP ills in parliament,” he said.
Gaborone North MP, Haskins Nkaigwa said they are aware as the opposition that some BDP members in parliament and some ministers are involved in dirty deals in some of the various entities especially those involved in the beef industry especially the BMC.
“They are just passing time to fix their stance and get what is due to them before they bring back the motion to parliament,” Nkaigwa said.