BY THOBO MOTLHOKA
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Kagiso Molatlhegi seems the most likely candidate to replace current Speaker of the House Gladys Kokorwe should the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) win the 2019 General Elections.
Molatlhegi’s decision not to contest the recent BDP primary elections has been widely viewed as a calculated move premised on the expectation that he would take over as the Speaker for Botswana’s 12th Parliament.
Addressing the media on Friday at The National Assembly Molatlhegi all but confirmed the suspicions, expressing his desire to take over as the next Speaker.
“I’m still young and competent enough to serve the nation in any capacity where my services may add value,” he said. The Gaborone South BDP legislator said he chose not to stand for re-election in order to give others an opportunity to serve. “I have served 10 years as a Member of Parliament and believe now is the opportunity for somebody else to continue where I left off.”
He said should the next parliament decide he is the right man for the Speaker’s job he would happily grab the opportunity. While he said he had done his part as an MP Molatlhegi said he was however also available for position of Specially Elected MP if the President chooses to call him.
Molatlhegi was elected Deputy Speaker of the 11th Parliament in 2014, beating Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)’s Abram Kesupile by 42 votes to 20. He has since had his fair share of controversy in parliament over the use of his powers.
Most notably this year, Molatlhegi kicked Gaborone North legislator Haskins Nkaigwa out of Parliament for allegedly threatening to assault him. According to the speaker Nkaigwa had warned him that one day he would be beaten up.
The incident took place during a very contentious debate involving the controversial National Petrolium Fund (NPF) following Bonnington South MP Ndaba Gaolathe’s request for the Deputy Speaker to allow his motion on NPF to be tabled. Molatlhegi argued that the matter could not be brought to Parliament as yet since it was still sub judice.
Molatlhegi was at it again in 2015 when he ordered security personnel to forcefully remove Gaborone Central MP Phenyo Butale from the chamber following the latter’s continued insistence to present a private motion on the water and power crisis that had overwhelmed the city back then. Francistown West MP Wynter Mmolotsi was also kicked out on the Deputy Speaker’s orders.
But it was Butale’s sendoff that brought more drama as security forcefully manhandled and threw him out before a dozen Police officers arrived to assist restore order. The Deputy Speaker has also been at the receiving end of criticism from his on fellow party MPs. Francistown West MP Ignatius Moswaane once accused Molatlhegi of “sabotaging” him, comparing his use of powers to that of a prison bully. Moswaane had wanted to know why a motion by Gaborone Central MP Butale was taking precedence over his. Molatlhegi’s explanation didn’t satisfy Moswaane as he made it known that he was not happy with the way he was being treated in parliament. “It is a very serious sabotage and I cannot allow it to happen. I have been elected as Member for Francistown West to represent the people’s interests, and nobody else’s,” Moswaane fumed.
Molatlhegi was again at the receiving end, this time physically, when he was hit by a stray bottle of water aimed at Minister of Defense and Security Shaw Kgathi by MP Sedirwa Kgoroba. The Mogoditshane legislator would later be summoned to the Gaborone Magistrate Court to answer to charges of “common assault”.