Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Majaga advocates for ministers from outside parliament

It is not a point that the tabler of the motion makes but one known to all who take more than passing interest in politics. Ministers have to juggle a plateful of responsibilities in Gaborone and occasionally fly out on international assignments. Back home in their constituencies, those who want to replace them as MPs have a field day. The latter can be members of their own party or of opposition parties. The would-be MPs take up speaking slots at funerals, weddings and kgotla meetings, preferably as emcees. This level of visibility enhances one’s electability. In not-so-private conversations with constituents, the would-be MPs bluntly state that “Your MP has dumped you and if you ever want to see him, your best bet is tuning into Btv.” The younger ones can up the ante by doing manual work like fetching firewood from the bush, skinning beasts, splitting firewood and tending meat pots all night. The slicker, manual-work-shunning ones book daily slots at morning and evening prayer services as lay priests. MPs with no ministerial posts also face the same challenge when parliament is in session but are able to reconnect with constituents during the recess. Faced with such situation, minister-MPs have to find creative ways to balance ministerial with MP responsibilities, the most favourite being addressing a series of kgotla meetings in their constituencies. After the meetings and out of the business suits, ministers are able to do political work. When the election season starts (which is usually a full two years before the start of the primary election), some ministers have been known to focus more on the constituency political work at the expense of ministerial work. The latter is very important because an MP position is the goose that lays the golden egg in the form of the ministerial position. Those responsibilities require delicate balancing. Clearly, something’s gotta give and Nata/Gweta MP, Paulson Majaga, plans to propose to parliament that the president should appoint cabinet ministers “from individuals who are not sitting Members of Parliament to allow them more time to do administrative work.” A cabinet minister who doesn’t have to do constituency work would be able to solely focus on his/her ministerial duties and not worry about a coup in his constituency. To an extent, what Majaga is proposing already happens with Kenneth Matambo (Finance and Economic Development), Molale (Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration), Mokaila (Transport and Communications) and Unity Dow (Basic Education) with the only difference being that they are specially elected MPs who don’t have to do constituency work.

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