Tonota South MP, Pono Moatlhodi, on Wednesday came down heavily against cabinet ministers who victimize MPs who make contributions in parliament.
Responding to the President’s State of the Nation address, Moatlhodi accused cabinet ministers of unacceptable behavior and intolerance towards divergent views.
“Today I am going to rock the boat. Cabinet ministers verbally abuse and intimidate us purely because we pose plausible and exposing questions inside the parliament,” said Moatlhodi. “The noble president’s State of Nation address should have been directed exactly to the cabinet ministers who are intolerant to divergent views. We expose their wrong policies only to incur their wrath.”
Moatlhodi said this was a wrong attitude that needed to be eradicated.
“I am in parliament to present the problems of Batswana and should they feel aggrieved by some government policies, I am here for them”, he maintained.
The maverick MP, who on many occasions suffered the wrath of cabinet ministers because of his out-spoken and forthright contributions, stressed that he would stop at nothing to expose government policies that tend to disadvantage ordinary citizens notwithstanding some cabinet ministers disapproval.
Earlier in his State of the Nation address, president Festus Mogae reiterated the importance of working together despite individual or political differences.
He said the country’s achievements were largely because of formidable and concrete relationship displayed by different associations.
“The progress our country has made over the past forty-one years has been the product of not only our collective efforts, but also common vision,” said Mogae. “The goals that unite us remain far greater than any differences we may have. The opening of this assembly of the people is, therefore, always a tangible manifestation of our collective values and aspirations. We should never allow our differences to blind us to our common purpose of serving the aspirations of Batswana.”
In previous and the current parliamentary sittings, Moatlhodi asked questions head-on criticizing some ministries.
In one of his many past contributions in parliament, Moatlhodi pushed defence minister, Phandu Skelemani, against the wall over allegations the government security officers were denied shelter to protect themselves from severe winter colds and rains at the MPs’ flats.
In the current session this week, he challenged the Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Duncan Mlazie, to clear the mist surrounding poor working conditions of employees in the records section at the Accountant General’s offices.
His question pointed to the ill-treatment of records section employees who, he said, are subjected to work at warehouses and basements with poor ventilation and unhealthy conditions resulting in 23 members of staff dying due to illnesses such as TB, suffocation and other ailments associated with poor working environments in the period between 1993 and 2007.
Contributing to the health sector, Moatlhodi lambasted the Minister of Health, Sheila Tlou, for educating young and vibrant Batswana in Portland, South Africa, but only to leave them in a lurch without employment.
“The Ministry of Health and, in particular, the Botswana Nursery and Mid-wifery Council do not employ our children after successfully completing their studies in South Africa.”
Although Moatlhodi is in support of the government’s decision to re-introduce school fees, he condemned the sending of students home.
“Even though I agree with the government to re-introduce school fees because of cost sharing exercise, I disagree with the government when they send school children home.
“Parents are the ones to bear the brunt not students,” Moatlhodi declared.