Boyce Sebetela’s announcement that he was quitting politics as Palapye MP to rejoin Debswana surprised the public and many people across the political divide.
In parliament, he was the maverick legislator who scrutinized and questioned government moves.
No wonder when he announced that he was leaving politics observers wondered who would be responsible for the formulation of laws in parliament and who would scrutinize government policies and guard against government’s anomalies.
On the floor to bid the Palapye MP farewell on Friday, Shoshong MP, Duke Lefhoko, described Sebetela as a hard working and serious legislator with a questioning intellect accompanied with measures of courage and fortitude rarely displayed by many in the House.
“We shall retain numerous endearing memories of Sebetela’s abilities in this house; but what stands out uppermost in my mind is the seriousness, that sense of conviction and purpose, which he brought to or invested in all and everything he did. Upon his appointment to the cabinet, initially as assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning and later as Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, he consciously and determinedly familiarized and immersed himself into the activities, business and operations of those ministries. It is largely on account of this virtue that in next to no time he personally ascertained for himself the real workings and actual practicalities of operations in the ministries in which he served rather than rely exclusively on the official briefings, assurances and blandishments which can potentially lead the undiscerning astray,” Lefhoko said.
He said Sebetela possessed such apparent quality even while a backbencher.
“All of us will recall his penetrating analysis on a host of issues including the force of his interventions, in debates on budget speech, radiation bill to mention just a few. Interventions of that nature, weighty and far-reaching, as they all were, cannot derive from complacency and indolence but can only derive from extensive research and deep study,” Lefhoko said.
He said Sebetela never left a stone unturned as reflected by his views that disrespected sacred cows.
“In addition to possessing a questioning intellect, Sebetela displayed measures and fortitude to which many in this house can only aspire”, Lefhoko said.
He recalled Sebetela’s admirable qualities of persistence and tenacity.
The Shoshong MP reminisced about Sebetela’s doubts about the depth and sincerity of the official commitment to citizen economic empowerment, adding that the outgoing Palapye MP considered the noble ideal of economic empowerment was being honoured in the breach rather than observance.
“He fired off nearly hundred and possibly more questions directed to ascertaining the citizen’s share of procurements in government departments and ministries as well as parastatals. Ministers were exasperated by what appeared to be one but often repeated question which was being asked of them. But Sebetela persisted and the answers thereto have been highly revealing. Many other members faced with the exasperations which were expressed by ministers might have abandoned this line of inquiry but he soldiered on,” asserted Lefhoko.
Recently, Tonota MP, Pono Moatlhodi, accused ministers of intimidation and verbal abuse emanating from the revealing questions posed by MPs to cabinet ministers.
Sebetela’s scrutiny and his questioning intellect into government moves won him the wrath of cabinet and of President Mogae.
At one of the BDP party meetings, president Mogae referred to him as getting too big for his boots and promised to take stern measures against party members who had big mouths.
“Indeed in the same vein and out of the same altruistic moves, he repeatedly urged upon us members of this house that the attainment of key strategic national objectives would entail our subordination of local projects at constituency levels or the forfeiture of certain constituency activities to those higher national goals,” continued Lefhoko, readily accepting that the House and public had lost a man of limitless fertility in mental resource, a man of courage and fortitude and that parliament shall be considerably poorer for his absence.
Also on the floor to bid Sebetela and Kgalagadi North MP, Obakeng Moumakwa, was the deputy leader of the main opposition, Olebile Gaborone, who said, “The departure of these gentlemen has certainly created a slight shake-up in the body politic of this country because political parties have been thrown into early and unexpected campaigns to fill the two newly created openings.
“Of course we must accept that the announcement of their decision today took the electorate by surprise. Their early departure has added a new dimension to current attitudes towards political representation in parliament; that none of us should think we are irreplaceable.”
The early departure of the two MPs before their terms of office expire sparked controversy with some constituents suggesting the resignation was a breach of promise. President Mogae is expected to issue a writ of elections anytime from Friday November 30. It is also suggested that Health Minister, Sheila Tlou, is destined to fill Sebetela’s boots.