It all had the features of a pre-rehearsed stage performance.From the moment he was allowed the parliament floor to make a contribution on Wednesday afternoon up until he was sacked the following day, Member of Parliament for Lobatse, Nehemiah Modubule exhibited a rare determination and fast wit seldom displayed inside the parliamentary halls.
The ease with which he parried attacks from the charged up BDP benches laid bare the unflappable style and wisdom unknown of him; a rare nerve for debate and intellectual grit reminiscent of the days when he broke off from the BNF in the early 1990s to form PUSO ÔÇô a little known, Lobatse confined ultra-leftist political outfit that later joined the BNF under the group membership.
During those days, Modubule would take BNF demigod, Dr. Kenneth Koma, head on, a practice that was viewed as political blasphemy.
At least three times this week, Modubule declined an offer by Speaker of the House to withdraw the “offending” statements he had made about a number of BDP ministers being corrupt.
Throughout the proceedings, he showed an unflinching composure and preparedness as he set out blow by blow to reopen old sores that many had come to believe had long healed.
It was clear that his strategy was to name and shame those involved.
Goaded by his BNF colleagues, especially Robert Molefhabangwe and Isaac Mabiletsa, instead of retracting his statements, Modubule chose the hard way out.
He would take it upon himself to go into the parliament library and do research to bring out evidence to prove his case that “BDP rewards corruption.” And so it was to be.
Armed with “documentary proof” the harshest words were reserved for Ministers Daniel Kwelagobe and Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi; Kwelagobe for his “misdemeanours” in the Mogoditshane land saga as brutally outlined by the Kgabo land commission; Venson-Moitoi for her “lack of integrity” in her role in the Botswana Housing Corporation scandal as chronicled by the Christie Report.
Without flinching, Modubule told parliament that the ruling party “rewards mediocrity and corruption.”
He said there was ample proof of instances where the BDP high functionaries were caught out in acts of corruption only to be promoted to senior positions.
The Speaker of the day, the stocky, short tempered Member of Parliament for Thamaga, Gladys Kokorwe, insisted that Modubule would either have to withdraw or produce proof.
Modubule opted to produce proof.
As a result, parliament adjourned for thirty minutes as he perused stacks of books, papers and reports inside the parliament library.
When the House reconvened after thirty minutes, he was armed with the Christie report which he said detailed in lengthy terms how some people who today are sitting in the BDP cabinet have been corrupt.
Kokorwe was not impressed. The report was not enough.
Modubule’s intransigence made her all the more determined to show who was in charge.
She said she wanted nothing less than court judgments and white papers confirming such reports.
So determined was Kokorwe to see Modubule humiliated that she cancelled the day’s proceedings “so that Modubule could spend the whole Wednesday evening and Thursday morning looking for his “evidence.”
Modubule gladly obliged. But Molefhabangwe could not contain his contempt at the apparent lack of impartiality by Gladys Kokorwe.
Molefhabangwe later said in an interview that it would be expecting too much to expect impartiality from BDP members who became speakers.
“The tradition is there; there has been James Haskins, Moutlakgola Ngoako and now Patrick Balopi and Gladys Kokorwe. All of them have played key roles inside the BDP as ministers at different times,” said Molefhabangwe.
When proceedings started Thursday afternoon, Modubule mockingly thanked Kokorwe for having given him more time than MPs.
He then produced his evidence with the same zeal and determination he had showed the previous day.
“It was shameful that Minister Kwelagobe had used government officers to produce his personal plans. He had frustrated efforts by the Kweneng Land Board to acquire a plot for public use, while Venson-Moitoi had colluded in acts of corruption with the late BHC Chief Letsholo.”
Still Kokorwe was not impressed. It would seem like she had already made her mind to kick Modubule out. She reached out to the brains of her Legal Counsel Lizo Ngcongco. The flamboyant attorney started a lengthy presentation; Commissions of enquiry are not judgments. After all, Kwelagobe, together with the late Peter Mmusi, went on to clear their names.
Modubule would not budge. They did not clear their names of wrong doing. “It was a technicality in how the hearings were conducted not the conclusions reached,” he hit back.
The cycle starts all over again. At this time it is clear Kokorwe had run out of all her patience. She wants Modubule out. And Modubule is prepared to be kicked out rather than apologise to the BDP who he thinks are incorrigibly corrupt.
He holds to his guns, and is instructed out. A number of BNF members follow him to offer their sympathies and of course compliments that at least he stood his ground a House dominated, controlled and manipulated by the BDP.