If parliament sticks to the debate standard it established with the Societies (Amendment) Bill, expect to hear revelations about MPs’ poison of choice or some connoisseur’s knowledge about the distillation process of Jack Daniels should the Liquor (Amendment) Bill be tabled before it.
One too many MPs who took to the floor to contribute to the latter bill felt the need to disclose some personal detail about their faith or quote scripture. That was a lot like at a funeral where speaker after speaker has to establish some pedigree with the deceased.
Mochudi East MP, Isaac Davids of the opposition Botswana National Front, is a member of the Roman Catholic Church and wanted the house to know that. There he would most likely have encountered a ruling party member, Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Fidelis Molao.
┬áThe Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso, went a step farther and revealed her ideological leanings.
“I am a trained communist. You are a capitalist,” she said, momentarily engaging in an exchange with a seated member who was heckling her.
Later she would reveal that “some of us who have been to Russia know that the Tsarist government was made up of believers from churches. That is what led to communists being united because they lost confidence in the church” and that “I am a Methodist; I even went to church yesterday.” From the Bible, she quoted James Chapter 3, Verse 1 where Paul says: “Brethren, let us not all become pastors because our judgement is great.”
Later, Gabane-Mankgodi MP, Major General Pius Mokgware, would quote Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.”
The Assistant Minister of Health, Dr. Alfred Madigele, is neither Catholic nor Methodist.
“Just a little background about my religion, Mr. Speaker. I belong to the Lutheran Church. I was born and raised in the Lutheran Church. My mother was a pastor there, my sister is a Sunday School teacher there and my other sister is an ordained pastor there. Perhaps I lost it in the way because I ended up as a modern medicine doctor and not a traditional doctor. Mr. Speaker, Lutheran Church is a good church,” said the good doctor when beginning his contribution the debate.
Rather than quote scripture, Mogoditshane MP, Sedirwa Kgoroba, decided to tell his family’s history and his own bully-fighting record.
“In the year 1964, my father and my mother traversed the country from South Africa to this country in search of only one thing: in search of freedom, and in respect of only one thing – freedom. I grew up in this beautiful country enjoying those freedoms and respecting those freedoms under a regime that allowed me to enjoy those freedoms, and under a regime that had the highest respect for those freedoms. Because I have grown under those circumstances, because I have enjoyed those freedoms, I love, respect and cherish freedom,” the MP said.
He then recounted how, as a school mate of future Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi at some secondary school he didn’t name (Gaborone Secondary School possibly), he resisted being bullied.
“I am brave enough to stand and fight against that and I will not allow any institution, any organisation or any person to be bullied by anybody or any system. The intention of this bill is actually to bully the churches,” the MP said.
Masisi’s would later paraphrase Kgoroba’s words about his family history to the shorthand form of: “His mother is a native South African and his father is a native South African, therefore he is also native South African.”
On a non-religious note and by this same standard, just how might a debate on the Liquor (Amendment) Bill unfold?
HONOURABLE SEMANGMANG: Madam Speaker, I rise to oppose this bill which seeks to kill off an industry that is already on life support. Right off the bat, I think it is important that I declare that I am an imbiber. I’m a Hansa man and before liquor was banned in the National Assembly …
HONOURABLE HECKLER: Gatwe Hansa? Go simolla leng? Rona re itse o le motho was Shake.
HONOURABLE SEMANGMANG: Who’s that? Is that you Honourable Heckler? I’m sorry, I almost didn’t recognise you without both your elbows on a bar counter and an unpaid glass of Johnnie Walker Black in front of you.