Sunday, August 7, 2022

Ministers, MPs rebel against Merafhe

Scores of cabinet ministers and Botswana Democratic Party backbenchers on Friday rebelled against Vice President Merafhe in parliament and voted alongside opposition MPs.

BDP parliamentarians met in caucus Friday at tea break where Merafhe instructed them to vote against an amendment to a motion calling on government to appoint a Commission of Inquiry into why Botswana did not benefit from the just ended football World Cup.

The proposed amendment to the motion moved by Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) MP Botsalo Ntuane had been tabled by deputy speaker, Pono Moatlhodi.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Phandu Skelemani, the Assistant Minister of Local Government, Kentse Rammidi, Tonota South MP and deputy speaker, Pono Moatlhodi, Francistown West MP, Tshelang Masisi, Gaborone South MP, Kagiso Molatlhegi and Tswapong North MP Prince Maele, however defied Merafhe’s instructions and voted with the opposition.

Curiously, Skelemani had stayed away from the caucus and stayed in parliament during the break.

The rebellion which casts Merafhe as a lame duck Vice President comes in the background of lobbying inside the party that he should be dropped as Vice President.

In an apparent bid to appease Barata-Phathi members, Khama had, when appointing Merafhe to be his number two, indicated that he would not serve out both terms as Vice president.

Merafhe’s sacking has been cropping up numerous times as the ruling party is taken up in a blame game following the breakaway of the Botswana Movement for Democracy.

The BDP executive secretary, Comma Serema, told the Sunday Standard that defying a party caucus is punishable.

“The party can reprimand the individual(s) who defy party caucus, this can result in either suspension or expulsion,” Serema said.

The amendment sought to alter a motion noticed by Gaborone West South Member of Parliament Botsalo Ntuane from a Commission of Inquiry to an audit report instead. Most BDP legislators were in support of the amendment but backtracked under Merafhe’s instruction.

A total of 25 MPs voted against the amendment, 19 MPs voted in the affirmative while 17 others were absent.

Maun West MP, Tawana Moremi, who supported the amendment during the parliamentary session but, like others, voted against it after the BDP party caucus, told the Sunday Standard and other reporters outside parliament that he did not regret his about turn.

“What difference does it make?” he asked “There is still going to be an evaluation of the World Cup anyway. I was merely respecting the party caucus by voting against the amendment,” Moremi said.

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