Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Dikgosi want MPs’ perks to be extended to them

Ntlo ya Dikgosi has unanimously supported a private motion bill calling for the constitution reforms of sitting Members of Parliament, adding such privileges should also be afforded to the traditional leaders as well.

The MP for Lobatse presented the bill to parliament, drumming up support to provide for the right of Members of Parliament to continue as Members of the National Assembly up to and including the last day preceding a general election notwithstanding the dissolution of parliament.

The draft bill will on Monday be presented to Ntlo ya Dikgosi.

Kgosi Kgomotso Boiditswe of Serowe region indicated the bill was the way forward, wondering why ministers, mayors and councilors will stay in their respective positions despite the dissolution of parliament.

“Who are they during this time?” Boiditswe asked, adding that ministers, mayors, councilors came into the political circles by virtue of a vote from their constituents.

Boiditswe said it was confusing that ordinary MP’s are afforded positions as ministers while others remain.

“Voters will still consider the minister their MP because s/he travels to and fro from their village and Gaborone,” he said, adding the situation was unfair for ordinary legislators.

That notwithstanding Boiditswe is adamant parliament is almost the same as Ntlo ya Dikgosi, adding what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

“Ntlo ya Dikgosi should also be included. These things need to be addressed and improved,” he said.

Just as parliament can be called during emergency times so could be Ntlo ya Dikgosi as the advisory body.

As the constitution stands today Boiditswe said MP’s are on stand-by during the dissolution of parliament, ready to be called anytime.

He wondered why a person on stand-by could be unemployed at the same time.

Elected into power, MP’s cease to officially represent their voters and are out of work immediately after the president dissolves parliament.

They are ejected from their parliamentary houses and their monthly salary income is frozen awaiting re-election during the national elections.

Speakers including Kgosi Mosadi Seboko of Balete, Oreagetse Machilidza of Boteti region amongst others also contributed to the bill, calling for Ntlo ya Dikgosi to be included in the proposed reform.

Machilidza said the government should move with the times, citing new democracies which are currently “more democratic than we are such as South Africa and Namibia” who will not abandon their leaders at the eleventh hour.

“Despite the separation of powers there is a link between parliament and Ntlo ya Dikgosi,” Machilidza said.

As Botswana goes to the national elections sometime October, parliament would be dissolved a few months before the election day as will be Ntlo ya Dikgosi some of whose membership will cease immediately after dissolution.

Kgosi Kea Lempadi of Okavango region argued the government was trampling on the rights of the people, adding that the legislators and Ntlo ya Dikgosi members were mandated for a period of five years during which time of dissolution the period has not elapsed.

Ntlo ya Dikgosi recommendations will be forwarded to parliament for further discussions in the next sitting Monday.


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