BY THOBO MOTLHOKA
Member of Parliament for Sefhare/Ramokgonami Dorcas Makgato has expressed serious misgivings about the immunity extended to Members of Parliament during debates on the floor.
Makgato argues that fellow legislators have taken to abusing the immunity to score political points. Her remarks follow heated exchanges between herself and Gaborone North MP Haskins Nkaigwa this past week in parliament.
Nkaigwa had accused Makgato of corruption involving the sale of Anti-Retroviral drugs during her tenure as Minister of Health.
He had also just accused former Education Minister Unity Dow of “stealing money” from the ministry.
Makgato threatened to sue Nkaigwa during the exchanges, challenging the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) legislator to repeat such accusations outside the doors of parliament.
Speaking to The Sunday Standard following their altercation Makgato accused Nkaigwa of abusing his immunity to score ‘cheap’ political points.
“He knows very well what he said was untrue. That is why he came to me and apologised on the side-lines. She dismissed the apology as futile because his accusations have now made it into social media where some people actually believe it.
“I have never sold ARVs. I have never done business with government. Ministers do not take part in procurement processes. I challenge anyone to go and investigate whether I, or anyone or company associated with me has entered into any contract with the Ministry of Health while I was in charge,” protested Makgato.
“Even my private secretary, to the best of my knowledge, has never taken part in any ARV related businesses.” Makgato says if she was a backbencher she would challenge the immunity clause and propose that it be lifted so legislators can face the music for deliberately misleading parliament.
Makgato’s exchanges with Nkaigwa occurred during debates on the proposed Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Bill.
The Sefhare/Ramokgonami legislator says she supports the Bill largely because as Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) MPs they have always been accused of corruption.
“This Bill seeks to establish what one owns, how they acquired it, and the source of the funds. It has designated the DCEC as a depository.” She said she was at a loss for words as to why some within the opposition want the Bill to be completely done away with instead of proposing necessary amendments.
“It is very suspect how, after years of calling for the Bill, it is the opposition who now want nothing to do with it. The sudden U-turn by some in the opposition is consistent with the change in their political outlook and decision to work with a former president.”
Makgato says whenever ruling party MPs are successful they stand accused of stealing from the tax-payer. “I have worked too hard for everything I have and would be happy to account. I challenge the Leader of Opposition to also come out and declare his assets… We want to know the real reason why they are so violently opposed to this legislation.”