Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) MP for Letlhakeng West constituency Liakat Lika Kablay took a lead in condemning Cabinet Ministers of his party for failing to answer questions asked by opposition MP’s in Parliament.
Opposition MPs complained recently that Ministers from the ruling party dodge their questions in Parliament. They said Ministers give excuses that the information being required by opposition MPs was in the public domain. Some of the opposition MP’s believe that the move was caucused and adopted at the ruling party caucuses.
At a press conference last week planned to update the press on the progress made in the first session of parliament, Kablay stated that the Ministers’ reluctance to answer question from opposition MPs was a new thing in parliament. Kablay differed with the Minister of Health Dorcas Makgato and Parliament chief whip Fedelis Molao who argued that Ministers were giving timely feedback to the questions from the opposition side.
Kablay said, “We are also surprised about this new thing of dodging the questions. This did not happen during the 10thparliament. In the 10th parliament Ministers were able to answer questions regardless of whether the information asked for is in public domain or not. I am against this move not to answer questions; ministers must provide answers to questions asked. These new Ministers are the ones who came with this trend of dodging questions.”
Molao said he was unsure as to who dodged which questions, “but if Ministers really dodge legitimate questions I would be personally unhappy. There are procedures in parliament that MPs can follow if they feel that their questions are not well addressed. I do not think it’s unfair when the Minister say the information of the question asked is readily available and MPs can access it. The problem is MPs want the Ministers to research for them.
Ministers are not mandated to do that,” he said. He continued that it will be premature for him as the Parliamentary whip to say whether he is happy or not in the way the Ministers answers questions in Parliament or overall performance of the collective MPs of the ruling BDP in Parliament. “We do discuss certain issues during our caucuses and how to raise them in parliament in a more effective way. I am happy to say that we agreed even with the president that we will not be fearful to bring controversial motions and the so called controversial questions in parliament. The only thing BDP MPs were discouraged from doing was the use of vulgar language, we do not want to be like opposition MPs,” said Molao. Minister Makgato said, “the role of Ministers is not to do research on behalf of MPs. For example if MPs want to know a Director of a certain company that information is available at Registrar of companies.
They can go and collect the information and use it for whatever purpose they want to use it for. It is important that questions are asked in such a way that they can be answerable in Parliament,” she said.