“Let us fight!” an MP suggested tongue in cheek as the Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Dorcas Makgato, ended a tirade against an opposition MP who had accused ministers of being “thieves.”
Much later but keeping his tongue firmly in the same position, the Nata-Gweta MP, Paulson Majaga, fleshed up the suggestion with what looked like a concrete plan.
“In my constituency, we are faced with floods and maybe I could raise money for charity to help those people,” the MP said. “I know that our [former] president was one person who liked soccer. Maybe we could do a boxing tournament for Members of Parliament where we could raise that money to help my constituency rather than talking about fighting.”
Now mollified with the passage of time, Makgato thought that was “a good idea” but asked the MP on the floor to fill just one information gap: “Whom would you take on that side if we were to do it?
The MP’s creative financing scheme is such that he is willing to adapt mixed martial arts rules to those already sanctioned by all international boxing bodies.
“Even if they were three against one, I would still take on the challenge more so that the money would be going to my constituency,” Majaga replied.
Sadly, some opposition MP are already chickening out. Rightly surmising that half-filled mineral water bottles would not be allowed, the Mogoditshane MP, Sedirwa Kgoroba, threw in a purple towel even before he was assigned a weight division.
“If an iron man like Honourable Majaga faced me, I would run away. The ruling party would win,” said a man who was once brought proceedings to a standstill after throwing a water bottle at the Deputy Speaker, Kagiso Molatlhegi.
Shortly thereafter, another opposition MP, Noah Salakae of Gantsi North, also threw in (a yellow) towel and bolted for the chicken coop, announcing as he did that he would delegate the task at hand to Tlokweng MP, Kenneth Segokgo.
“I never want to be involved in any fight. I would rather run away or maybe Honourable Segokgo would help me since he is a black belt,” said Salakae who was probably still in school in April 1997 and would thus be unfamiliar with the pugilistic prowess of some of his fellow Botswana National Front MPs who may have seen action in the Battle of Palapye.
With this level of bailing out, it looks like the Nata-Gweta fundraiser will have to make do with little more than Majaga versus Segokgo ÔÇô depending of course on what the latter’s camp communicates to the organisers.
Okay, so the whole thing was a joke but the fact of the matter is that the level of animosity between the Government and Opposition benches is such that this joke cut too close to the bone and it may be just a matter of time before a prison-rules, bare-knuckle fight breaks out in parliament. Joking about a very bad thing that is waiting to happen is in very bad taste.
Another fresh joke that cut too close to the bone was recently made by Francistown South MP, Wynter Mmolotsi, a firebrand who, as it turns out, stays deathly silent when charity boxing tournament pugilists are paired off. In 2010, the MP asked asked then Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Lesego Motsumi, to share information about multi-million pula Botswana Defence Force tenders that have been won over decades by Seleka Springs, a company owned by the twin brothers of former president Ian Khama. The answer so badly displeased Khama that he promptly demoted Motsumi, who was a specially-elected MP, to the position of Botswana’s High Commissioner to India. A few days back, Mmolotsi bragged that he “banished” Motsumi to India using the Setswana words, “Ke kobetse MmaMotsumi ko India.” At a level of human compassion, this is not really a joke because the MP’s question set off a series of events that ended with someone being demoted and sent more than a thousand nautical miles away as second punishment.