Speaker calls Minister Kgathi to order for lying to Parliament

12 Apr 2015

Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Kagiso Molatlhegi on Friday called on the Minister of Defence Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi to order for twice lying to Parliament. The Deputy Speaker asked the Minister to withdraw a statement he read in Parliament that Seleka Springs a company in which President Khama has a financial interest has never won tenders from the Botswana Defence Force.

The other partners in the company are President Khama’s twin brothers Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Tshekedi Khama and his twin Anthony. Kgathi told Parliament last December that Seleka Springs had not received any BDF tenders between 1980 and 1998 during the time President Khama was army commander.

The Minister was also asked to withdraw another written statement he read in Parliament that ‘cabinet members declare to His Excellency, Members of Parliament to the Speaker of the National Assembly and judges to the chief justices’, because the statement was not true. The Deputy Speaker accused Kgathi of being out of order by sticking to his guns when his statement about Seleka Springs contradicted the statement by former Minister Lesego Motsumi who confirmed that indeed Seleka Springs was awarded BDF tenders while President Khama was commander of the BDF.  On the issue of declaration of assets, Molatlhegi said, “besides we all know we do not declare our assets.”

The Deputy Speaker who was accused of treating Kgathi with kid gloves was forced to take the hard line against the minister following pressure from opposition MPS. Opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change MP Pius Mokgware compared the just ended Parliament session to Animal Farm - a satirical political novel by renowned author George Orwell.

The caricature book depicting human life through the lens of the animal kingdom, featured a character by the name of Boxer- a dull but strong horse which Mokgware likened to the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi.

“I do not want to compare this House to the Animal Farm but I am compelled to do so. There was this strong character,” he said gesturing with his hands to indicate strength and power of Boxer the horse, sparking a spontaneous laughter from across the House.

UDC and opposition Botswana Congress Party accused the Minister of lying to Parliament and the general public, insisting that the Deputy Speaker Kagiso Molatlhegi should force him to retract his statements.

First to pull the trigger was Francistown South MP Wynter Mmolotsi who accused Molatlhegi of treating Kgathi with kids’ gloves.

“Go a lebega Kgathi o a go palela. Fa o dira jaana re rona re ta go palela,” Mmolotsi said to the Deputy Speaker in his Sengwatoesque tone, setting the cue for his UDC colleagues.

Should these incidents pass-by without notification by means of a retraction statement during the end of the last day of the session surely the nation will be denied the whole truth of the matter in time, he said.

“They (nation) will think he was telling the truth,” Mmolotsi added, calling for Molatlhegi to order Kgathi to withdraw his statements immediately.

 “If he is adamant about Seleka Springs then let him account for the declaration of assets which we know and have evidence we do not declare,” chipped in BCP MP Bagalatia Arone.

Kgathi on the other hand insisted: “I have indicated before and today: Whoever has proof and evidence should bring it forward but you are not forth coming.”

Mokgware insisted that Kgathi’s integrity and credibility to the nation should be put to test.

Molepolole North MP Mahommed Khan wondered how an easy issue could take so long to resolve, adding the presence of Kgathi in the House was good enough to solve the issue for good and for all.

“The issue at hand does not need a research. All we need is clarity from the Minister,” Khan said, insisting Parliament should not be held hostage by an ordinary Minister who appears to be controlling the Speakers. Khan lashed out at Molatlhegi: “We are here not for games. You (Deputy Speaker) have been all this session very biased towards us.’’