Saturday, May 30, 2020

Kokorwe suspends opposition MPs from Parliament

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Gladys Kokorwe this week suspended for a week Botswana Congress Party Member of Parliament Dithapelo Koorapetse and his UDC counterpart Haskins Nkaigwa for interrupting parliament on a point of order.

Kokorwe also threatened to expel the Leader of Opposition Duma Boko and Molepolole Member of Parliament Mahommed Khan who complained that she was mishandling the House.

Kokorwe started the week in a fighting mood threatening to crack the whip on “wayward” legislators who abuse Parliamentary rules, disrupting proceedings in the process.

“The last session I was obedient and kind with you. But from today onwards I will not,” Kokorwe said, threatening to send legislators who stand on a point of order, procedure and clarification out of the House.

“For the past 15 years as a legislator I have not seen a point of order during question time. You should stand on a point of supplementary. Failure to do so will result in punitive action meted against you…and I mean it,” she threatened.

Kokorwe is still smarting from the previous session during which Parliament nearly descended into chaos especially during the last day of the proceedings.

The tense atmosphere in parliament boiled over Thursday when opposition MP Wynter Mmolotsi stood up on a point of order during question time.

This was after Kokorwe noticed parliament that there was an urgent motion to debate. She was referring to a motion tabled by the MP for Francistown West Ignatius Moswaane calling on the Speaker to expunge from the records of Parliament statements made by the Leader of Opposition Duma Boko.

Moswaane said the facts contained in Boko’s statement were false and therefore could not be permitted in the Hansard. He said Boko failed to bring forward evidence that Chinese Embassy was closed due to attacks by Botswana government on China over its territorial claims to the South China Sea. Moswaane insisted that the Chinese Embassy was never closed.

Kokorwe spurned Mmolotsi’s intervention and called on Moswaane to proceed with his motion.

She reluctantly allowed opposition MP Phenyo Butale to stand on point of order. Butale questioned the rationale of debating a motion that has been overtaken by events.  The MP pointed out that there were important social issues to discuss such as high unemployment rate and the declining education standard. Butale argued there was nothing urgent about the motion.

Mmolotsi persisted on his call for order.

“Earlier on I stood on a point of order but you would not allow me the platform. The substantive Minister on the floor then did not answer some parts of the questions fielded to him but you denied me the chance to put this House in order,” he said.

Microphones from the opposition back bench echoed with call for a point of order in solidarity with Mmolotsi. The Speaker expelled MP’s Dithapelo Keorapetse and Haskins Nkaigwa from Parliament and suspended them for a week for insisting on a point of order.

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Sunday Standard May 24 – 30

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of May 24 - 30, 2020.