The opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has accused the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Margaret Nasha of sabotaging their efforts to push parliament to take action against the Director General of the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), Isaac Kgosi.
The BCP said Dr Nasha did everything in her power to block their petition to bolster parliament into action and hold Kgosi accountable for allegations of impropriety that have been levelled against him. BCP president Dumelang Saleshando was expected to address parliament on the matter on Tuesday, 5th August. However, BCP presidential spokesperson, Martin Dingake said there has been every effort by the Speaker and Parliamentary Counsel to thwart any attempt to raise discussion on the matter in parliament.
“They have now resorted to ambush, including but not limited to bending the rules to conveniently avoid this matter at all costs. We have responded appropriately to these deliberate efforts to frustrate us, to which the Speaker has now asked for further time to reflect and advise herself,” he said.
Meanwhile the 10th parliament closed last Thursday. Dingake said it seems all too much of a coincidence that not so long ago after the resignation of Honorable Bagalatia Arone and Major General Pheto as Members of the Intelligence and Security Parliamentary Committee, parliament would be stopped from exercising is oversight role over the DIS and it’s officers. However, Dingake said the BCP will soldier on in their efforts to bring Kgosi to book because Nasha’s move was only a temporary setback. He added that the Speaker’s actions did not only sabotage the BCP’s efforts but also those of parliament.
“We are certain this is only a temporary setback. The BCP will continue to be a people’s parliament outside the formal parliament. We will do this through rallies, house to house campaigns and other public bodies,” he said.
The presidential spokesperson said there were clear indications that Dr Nasha and her office were prepared to do anything to stall attempts to bring forth any discussion on the DIS Director General’s conduct as the BCP’s motion on the subject suffered the same fate. In response, Dr Nasha said her job as Speaker is to facilitate discussions and not to be obstructionist. She explained that the issue was never about whether she wanted Saleshando to speak before parliament or not.
“The issue was more about a technicality and procedure and I fully discussed this matter with Saleshando. When the issue started Saleshando wanted to bring it as a motion before parliament. We advised that we have to check with the courts first to establish whether the matter is before the courts or not to avoid sub-judice. That took some time because the Parliamentary Counsel went to the courts personally to check and we found that there was nothing before the courts,” she said.
She further revealed that they advised Saleshando that if the issue was brought before parliament as a motion members would have to discuss names of public officers which would be against parliamentary standing orders.
“We advised him that a petition would be much better. After he brought the petition, we also realized that bringing it before parliament would still be in breach of standing orders yet again. At this time we advised that the petition could only be brought before parliament only if a third of the members have shown support for the petition,” she said.
Dr Nasha added that parliamentary standing orders clearly state that public officer conduct cannot be discussed before parliament unless the motion or petition is supported by a third of the members. She said Saleshando gave up on his efforts after they advised him to seek the support of a third of the members.
“We advised him about this third rule and that’s when he gave up. There was still time if he could have gathered the required one third support. We could have pursued the petition as an urgent and national interest matter that needed to be debated in parliament,” she said.
Political pundits have opined that Saleshando gave up on the petition after realizing that he could not have garnered the one third support required, especially since the opposition was so polarized.