Perhaps as a sign of protest against their party position, Botswana Democratic Party Members of Parliament last week filed out of parliament when the speaker called for a vote on Botswana Congress Party MP Dumelang Saleshando’s motion calling for political leaders to declare their assets and liabilities.
A BDP caucus resolution compelled all BDP MPs not to support Saleshando’s motion as it would “steal the limelight from the ruling party”. Instead, the BDP caucus resolved that Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Minister, Lesego Motsumi, will table the same motion at a date not yet specified.
When parliament opened for business earlier this year, it was clear that Saleshando’s motion enjoyed a lot of support from among the BDP MPs. During the debate, BDP MPs Wynter Mmolotsi, Botsalo Ntuane, Gilbert Mangole, Patrick Masimolole, Tawana Moremi, Mmoloki Raletobana, Daniel Kwelagobe, Tshelang Masisi and Guma Moyo all expressed support for Saleshando’s motion. But they made an exodus out of parliament when it was time to vote, culminating in Saleshando’s motion failing to garner approval from the house.
BDP MPs aligned to the Barata-Phathi faction were sympathetic to Saleshando’s initiative, but could not openly defy a party caucus resolution.
MPs Mmolotsi, Masimolole and Mangole only reappeared after the voting exercise while others disappeared for good.
Out of a total of 27 MPs who voted, 16 BDP MPs voted against Saleshando’s motion. 11 MPs voted in support of the motion. Altogether 35 MPs were absent.
Meanwhile, Saleshando dismissed Tonota South MP, Pono Moathodi, as a joker after Moathodi said that a bill on disclosure of assets is not imperative.
He said Saleshando should not be concerned about people’s assets, but should rather worry about bringing amenities to his constituency.
Saleshando also expressed surprise that Vice President Mompati Merafhe considered the motion on declaration of assets as a contest for the limelight.
He warned BDP MPs who had failed to vote for him after declaring their support for his motion that they are party to a shameful practice of the caucus system, which he said tramples on the independence of parliament as a law body.Saleshando said that it is obvious that ruling party MPs are hamstrung as they failed to maintain their principle by supporting him.
“You have been reduced to lame ducks,” he said.
Saleshando promised to marshal support from opposition MPs to ensure that Motsumi does not table a watered down bill.