Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbench is expected to keep the executive on its toes during the current sitting of Parliament as two of its newly elected Members of Parliament are expected to table motions that are likely to put pressure on President Ian Khama who is expected to announce a Cabinet reshuffle soon.
Members of Parliament for Tati West and Francistown West, Biggie Butale Ignatius, Moswaane this week set the tone for the battle for the control of Parliament when they lined up motions that are deemed controversial.
First in Butale’s list is a motion requesting Government to introduce other indigenous languages of Botswana in the education curriculum while Moswane will table a motion requesting Government to establish and develop orthographies for all languages that are spoken and exist in Botswana.
In the past the government warned Batswana to tread carefully when debating issues of languages on the basis that they have the potential to divide the nation.
Butale also intends to table a motion requesting Government to establish and operate community radio and television stations which broadcast in other indigenous languages spoken in Botswana.
Government and other BDP MPs have also opposed the motion on the basis that it is a sensitive subject that is likely to divide the nation.
Moswaane will table a motion requesting Government to end the beef monopoly currently enjoyed by Botswana Meat Commission and allow other players to compete freely.
When Agriculture Minister Christian De Graaf brought a Bill in Parliament in 2012 calling for end of BMC monopoly it was deferred after MPs argued that the move would result in BMC being owned by a cartel while thousands of farmers in the country remain disadvantaged.
Butale is also calling on Government to introduce the necessary legislative reforms to strengthen the institution of Parliament inclusive of an amendment to Section 70 of the Constitution of Botswana to introduce an independent parliamentary service. There have been concerns that Botswana’s Parliament is being controlled by the executive.
The Tati West MPs is also calling on Government to amend the Constitution of Botswana in order to increase the number of sitting Judges on the Judicial Service Commission and for its decision making process to be by secret voting to vest the process of appointment of Judges by the Judicial Service Commission, with greater objectivity. In its current setup the JSC gives the President powers to choose and appoint judges. Moswaane demands that the Mobutu Drive in Gaborone be renamed Sir Ketumile Masire Drive in due recognition of the latter’s immense contribution to the development of modern Botswana while Butale will table a motion requesting Government to name a major Government facility after the late Gomolemo Motswaledi in due recognition of his immense contribution to the nation of Botswana in the fields of music and politics.
Additionally, Moswaane wants Parliament to adopt his motion calling on Government to increase Value Added Tax from 12 per cent to 14 per cent to cater for public servants’ salary increase and other Government expenses.
He will also table a motion requesting Government to start negotiations with all farm owners who have land surrounding all cities and major villages to pave way for the expansion of towns, cities and major villages.
Gaborone and Francistown are some of the examples of cities that are surrounded by farms that are owned by companies and influential individuals and the government is likely to face stiff resistance from such individuals.
Moswaane also wants Government to establish a National Student Representative Council for tertiary institutions and another one calling on Government to abolish with immediate effect cost recovery on tertiary and university students in order to make education accessible to all.
Moswaane is also calling Parliament to adopt a motion that will result in Government making urgent legislative reforms to facilitate the purchase of houses by Batswana through the removal of duties and taxes in respect of house purchase transactions as well as the introduction of improved Government subsidies for lower income groups.