Despite the recent statement retracting what he had said about the new liquor regulations, Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Botsalo Ntuane, maintains his political exuberance and direction are undeterred.
“The retraction statement has not changed me in anyway. I will still carry my legislative responsibilities as usual, despite the statement,” says the confident Ntuane in an interview with The Sunday Standard.
He said he has not been told by the party to change his style of debate inside parliament.
Ntuane’s remarks come amid talk making the rounds to the effect that the flamboyant legislator has been rendered politically impotent, owing to the retraction he was forced to make by President Ian Khama and the BDP Central Committee last week.
An outright legislator whose contributions kept the House lively and interesting in the last parliament and, in the process, rubbing the government the wrong way, Ntuane insists he is still the ‘same old Ntuane’.
“My contribution in parliament and campaign strategies in Gaborone South-West will not, in anyway, be affected by the retraction,” he added.
Ntuane made headlines last week as he was subjected to a harsh and conditional retraction statement to both the BDP Central Committee and the public over his unwavering support for the Liquor Traders’ Unions who were taking the government to court.
Interviewed on the new Liquor Regulations, Ntuane told the Botswana Gazette that “he was against the rules that the government was introducing” – a statement which caused further frictions that have accumulated for sometime between the BDP Central Committee and the ‘wayward’ legislator, who is always accused of not towing the party lines.
Somewhat humiliated and without choice, Ntuane succumbed and apologized to both the Central Committee and to the public for having breached party rules.
Following the incident tongues wagged as legislators, the rank and file, BDP insiders and members of the opposition predicted to see a different, tongue-tied Ntuane in the coming parliamentary session. Some expressed concern that this would put the maverick legislator on a wrong footing as he tries to take the Gaborone South-West constituency, currently held by opposition MP, Robert Molefhabangwe.
“He has been contributing considerably well in parliament and this latest retraction statement is likely to render him weak, lest he injures Khama and the Central Committee’s feelings,” a BDP member of parliament revealed.
Another BDP member of parliament added, “This episode has the potential to further dampen his vigour and spirit in the Gaborone South-West constituency ÔÇô the area he so much desires to takeover in the coming general elections.”
Ntuane, however, maintains his vigour and ambition to take control of the Gaborone South-West constituency and says he is not compromised by the statement.
“The retraction statement did not demoralize me in my campaign and ambition to oust my competitors in the coming national elections. I will still display my usual political stance despite the statement.”
The BDP Publicity Secretary, Comma Serema, also denies that Ntuane is ‘devastated and demoralized’ and will be contributing less in parliament.
“It would be betrayal to the party. BDP members, including the Central Committee, are not against Ntuane’s ideologies, even those questioning the government policies,” Serema revealed. “Our party is against the tone he often uses and nothing else.”
Serema dismissed reports that Ntuane will be a different man in parliament and would simply rubber stamp government policies without severe scrutiny.
“Our expectation is that he continues to contribute constructively in both the parliament and public but on an acceptable and desirable tone,” Serema said.
Ntuane is believed to have stirred controversy in BDP circles on many occasions.
He rubbed the government the wrong way when he called for the suspension of the implementation of the Liquor Regulations pending more consultation.
During the last parliamentary session, Ntuane partly supported the motion initiated by the opposition MP, Akanyang Magama, which attempted to abolish the current constitution regarding the automatic succession of the vice president to the presidency.
As if that was not enough, Ntuane put forward a controversial motion that called for the government to place a moratorium on cost sharing, pending a review of its impact on access to education.
During the last day of the previous parliamentary session, Ntuane abstained on a motion by opposition MP, Dumelang Saleshando, which called on parliament to temporarily abandon that day’s proceedings and give precedence to the Zimbabwean crisis, which threatened to engulf the whole of southern Africa.
All BDP MPs, except Ntuane, did not support the motion.
According to sources, these seeming anti-government tendencies accumulated and vexed the Central Committee and BDP MPs.
The opportunity presented itself when the legislator supported the Liquor Traders’ unions on taking the government to court following the government’s implementation of the new liquor regulations.
With all odds staked against him, what remains to be seen is whether Ntuane will be as vocal over his motions that did not feature in the last parliamentary session.
His outstanding motions include, among others, the motions which call for the government to commission a study on the feasibility of introducing an unemployment benefit grant and one that seeks that the government exempts first-time house buyers from the payment of VAT.
Adds MP Dumelang Saleshando jokingly, “The nation should be prepared for more retraction statements.”