THE TELEGRAPH Reporter VICTOR BAATWENG and Photographer INNOCENT LETSHOLATHEBE narrate how drama unfolded in Parliament on Monday resulting in the manhandling of Member of Parliament for Gaborone Central Phenyo Butale by Police officers with the help of parliamentary security officers.
The shortage of water and electricity countrywide had parliament boiling and some MPs in darkness on Monday as legislatures battled to either speak on behalf of their electorates or protect their images. On one side it was the opposition Umbrella For Democratic Change (UDC) while the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) through the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Kagiso Molatlhegi used every tool at its disposal to block what was to be an urgent motion relating to shortage of water and electricity.
As the events unfolded, Dr Butale wanted to present a private motion on the water and power crisis but was stopped by Molatlhegi who indicated that the motion will be tabled by Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Ditlhapelo Keorapetse of Selebi Phikwe West.
Contributing to the debate on the procedure of parliament, UDC MP, Haskins Nkaigwa maintained that Butale’s motion was urgent suggesting that Keorapetse’s was a mere question to the minister responsible for water and energy. The debate on the matter got ugly and invited the use of strong words with the mother of the House, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi being on both receiving and sending end. While youthful UDC MPs referred to Moitoi as ‘headgirl’, she was later to remind Nkaigwa that some of her electorates in Serowe South were of the same age as his mother.
“If we are not going to respect each other as they are already calling me ‘head girl’, let me face these people I want those who voted them to know that they have sent people with no respect here.”
“Honorable Nkaigwa ke tsile mo palamente ke thophilwe ke batho ba Serowe South, o kaya go ba botsa gore ke eng ba thophile motho yo o kanang ka mmago,”Moitoi said.
Just when drama seemed to be subsiding, following a ten minutes break, things took a wrong turn again following ‘point of order’ calls by UDC MPs while the deputy speaker insisted that the matter should be set aside. At this point, the Deputy Speaker called the Sergeants of Arms together with the police to throw Francistown West Wynter Mmolotsi out of the House for what he said was interference with the proceedings of the house.
Although Mmolotsi was thrown out a relatively harsh manner, it was Butale’s send off that brought more drama as police officers forcefully manhandled and threw him out. A few minutes later, close to 15 Police officers from Borakanelo Police arrived at the parliament buildings but did not arrest nor talk to any member of the parliament.
Although the Botswana Congress Party MPs snubbed the whole debate, Okavango MP Bagalatia Arone who was pressed to comment by journalists outside parliament buildings indicated that he had advised the deputy speaker to consider treating Butale’s motion as a matter of urgency as per the procedure of the house.
“Because Butale’s motion was brought on urgent basis that means the question then falls away. I am just going home because there is no business here”, Aarone said as he walked out of parliament.
Parliament was later adjourned as it did not form a quorum following a send off of UDC MPs as well as a walkout by some.