New MPs want an independent parliament


Newly elected Members of Parliament (MP) have vowed to advocate to for the separation of Legislative’s powers from the Executive, during the next five years. They say they want an absolutely independent and autonomous parliament.

So committed are the legislatiors that they are willing to fight President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s administration tooth and nail for the independence of parliament.
Speaking at the ongoing MPs orientation workshop in Kasane, the new Leader of Opposition and also Maun West MP Dumelang Saleshando, said more than a decade has passed since the issue was first discussed but to this date nothing has changed.

“It’s been 15 years since this issue was first brought to parliament, nothing has changed. I hope by the end of 5 years under your leadership (Speaker), we will have a different story to tell,” he urged the newly elected Speaker Phandu Skelemani.

“When dealing with this matter when i was still the leader of opposition, I encountered challenges. I was continuously referred to the Minister of Presidential Affairs,” Saleshando said, further adding that he followed all those refferals despite having objections. He said the matter should have been adressed by the head of the Legislature.

“Even if there are disputes, why should anyone be reffered to the executive on matters affecting the legislature?” he asked in rhetoric.
For the next five years, Saleshando vowed that he will not agree to be reffered to the executive on parliamentary matters.

“I will be engaging the speaker and hope he will also understand that as the head of the legislature the buck stops with him,” he said.
When engaged further by this publication, he added; “The Office of the President just do not want to let go. We need to have complete separation of powers. Parliament needs to have its own staff, and its own budget and the speaker should lead that initiative.”

Prior to Saleshando’s remarks Skelemani had also vowed to do his best in seeking the independence of the legislature.
The former International Affairs and Cooperation Minister said the independence of parliament will go a long in consolidating and further strengthing the country’s democratic system.
Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP Mephato Reatile of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) also echoed Saleshando’s sentiments. Although he was also overlooked for a cabinet post, he told this publication that his main focus in his tenure as MP is to fight for an independent legislature.

“We want parliament to have its own staff and budget. It is a pity that parliament budget is drafted under the ministry of presidential affairs.”
The Botswana Gazette further sought for more clarity on the matter from the former Speaker Gladys Kokorwe. “I believe it is something we would all love to see, and hopefully it is on the cards. I do agree that indeed parliament should be independent but the executive still have their own reasons,” said Kokorwe.

Kokorwe replaced Margaret Nasha as Speaker of the National Assembly in 2014. Reports at the time suggested that Kokorwe had the backing of former president Ian Khama and his administration. It was believed that Nasha’s active advocacy for the separation of powers had rubbed off Khama’s regime the wrong way. Nasha was the first ever woman to be elected as Speaker.