Parliament was thrown into chaos on Thursday as members of Parliament engaged in bitter exchanges after Minister of Lands and Housing, Prince Maele accused the Leader of Opposition, Duma Boko of plagiarizing.
Maele accused Boko of plagiarizing government’s land policy and passing off some of its excerpts as his own ideas in his response to the 2016/17 budget speech. He said Boko failed to acknowledge the source of information. The Land and Housing Minister shot salvos at Boko’s speech, saying it offers absolutely nothing.
“If at all they can be in government then this country is in a big trouble. Nothing of importance can be derived from his speech. It offers Batswana nothing. I feel strongly that because the speech was tainted by plagiarism,” said Maele.
His submissions offended Members of Parliament in the opposition, who demanded that he withdraws his claims of plagiarism as they were disrespectful to the Leader of Opposition. Maele refused to withdraw his statement. At this point almost all MPs were switching on their microphones as they jostled for the attention of Speaker of the National Assembly, Gladys Kokorwe.
As Kokorwe refused to entertain any calls for “point of order or point of procedure,” MP for Okavango Bagalatia Arone, who had all along been thumping his desk, lost his temper and stood up, crossing the floor to the ruling party’s side where he switched off Maele’s microphone. Kokorwe then ordered the sergeants of arms to throw him outside Parliament.
After Arone was thrown outside Parliament, Kokorwe allowed a “point of order” from MP for Francistown West, Ignatius Moswaane.
This further offended opposition MPs, as Moswaane stood up to ask the Speaker to protect ruling party MPs.
“We are not safe as you can see. Opposition MPs are thumping tables as if we are about to go to war. Plagiarism is theft and an act of crime. For the last 30 minutes we have been threatened by the opposition. I nearly ran away when Arone came to our side to switch off Maele’s microphone, which is criminal. MPs cannot be thumping tables when the Minister is on the floor,” said Moswaane.
In response, MP for Gaborone Central, Phenyo Butale asked the Speaker why she allowed BDP MPs to abuse the opposition.
“Why are we subjected to such lunacy? We did not say anything wrong but Moswaane decided to attack us. Minister Maele lied to this house by imputing improper motives on the Leader of Opposition and on the other side people are celebrating. I say this is wrong, this is out of order. Maele should produce the paragraph that he says was plagiarized to the Speaker so that this house can examine the paragraphs. We cannot accept the limited and narrow understanding of plagiarism by members of the BDP,” said Butale.
MP for Mochudi West Gilbert Mangole said the drama in Parliament made them look more like they had no direction.
“We expect the Speaker to afford us the same protection as she affords MPs from the BDP. We have been requesting for points of order from this side and you refused, now you allow Moswaane a point of order and he start to insult us. You allow him to continue insulting us. You allow him to get away with this. This can never be fair Madam Speaker,” said Mangole.
Responding to the alleged plagiarism Boko who arrived a bit late in Parliament said the accusation was a “very serious imputation of academic intellectual dishonesty.” He said it suggests that the source from which words were allegedly plagiarized holds original intellectual property over those words or concept and the manner in which they are specifically organized or arranged.
“The BDP or the Minister or whoever else has absolutely no original intellectual property over anything to do with the servicing of land as a concept or an idea. They absolutely have no original intellectual property even if they might have written it somewhere. It is not their original idea,” said Boko.
He said there are many authors who have written on land servicing and Minister Maele has absolutely no intellectual power to whom they can refer or from whom they can draw any idea.
“Minister Maele must not come here and fake the funk and claim that there was plagiarism from him or from his government. I find it extremely disrespectful, extremely distasteful and totally unacceptable and I will ask him to withdraw if he doesn’t want us to descend into chaos,” said Boko. The matter was referred to the business advisory committee and is expected to return to Parliament again this week.