Three opposition MPs have expressed a wish to have President Ian Khama come to parliament so that they can ask him some “burning questions.”
If Lieutenant General Khama ever does so, he will come face to face with a subordinate of his from the Botswana Defence Force ÔÇô Major General Pius Mokgware who told the house last Tuesday that he has “two questions” for the president.
“When is he coming to parliament?” the Gabane-Mankgodi MP asked the Deputy Speaker, Kagiso Molatlhegi.
The latter thought that Mokgware was being frivolous and wanted to derail the house from procedure.
“Just be patient. Some day that [Khama coming to parliament] will happen because it is provided for in the Standing Orders,” Molatlhegi said.
The standing order in question (20.1) reads: “The president may at any time, if he so wishes, occupy the front government bench.”
At this point, the Gaborone Central MP, Dr. Phenyo Butale, had joined the fray and the issue turned to semantics and what those who hold PhDs are supposed to know. Stating that the issue Mokgware had raised was of interest to him, the MP, who recently acquired a doctoral degree, asked of Molatlhegi: “How do I go about if I wanted the president to come and answer burning questions that most of us have?”┬á
Ruling Butale out of order, Molatlhegi added that “I take it that you, Dr. Phenyo Butale, know English very well.” Ordinarily “Honourable” precedes an MP’s name but the Deputy Speaker clearly wanted to make the point that a PhD holder would certainly understand the language of the standing orders. Molatlhegi then took it upon himself to explain this standing order just so he established common ground with Butale.
“You know very well what it means. It does not say “the president ‘shall’; it says ‘may.’ It is discretional. Please, stop talking about that issue,” he directed.
Abram Kesupile of Kanye South didn’t and rose on a point of procedure to ask Molatlhegi how MPs should “motivate the developments in such a way that the president can then wish to come here.” The response was that the MP should raise the issue at the General Assembly “so that we discuss and see how we can go about it.” The latter is an all-party closed-door forum for MPs.
The MPs would appear to be desirous of putting Khama through a bruising ordeal a lot similar to that of the British parliament where the prime minister is mercilessly grilled on Wednesdays. As Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Khama didn’t relish being tackled by MP during ministers’ question time and it is unlikely he would offer himself up for the sort of grilling that the Umbrella for Democratic Change MPs want.