Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Parliament introduces the use of FIFA’s VAR

Botswana Parliament has resorted to the FIFAesque controversial Video Assistant Referee (VAR) to resolve dispute during its sessions. The VAR has been the most controversial subject at the ongoing World Cup hosted by Russia.

While the biggest debate regarding the use of VAR has been whether to maintain it or do away with the technology following the World Cup, the Botswana Parliament last week opted to use the technology to solve a dispute involving an altercation between two sitting Members of Parliament.

The Speaker of the House Gladys Kokorwe on Friday, July 6, sought the use of ‘VAR’ to solve a matter involving Gabane-Mmankgodi Member of Parliament Major General Pius Mokgware and Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development Tshenolo Mabeo.

The Gabane-Mmankgodi MP had raised complaints about some utterances made by the latter which Mokgware deemed derogatory to his person. He called on the Speaker to order the Minister to withdraw the statement to which Mabeo refused insisting the statement would not be captured on record (the Hansard) because his microphone was switched off at the time.

The Speaker then ordered the two MPs, with the assistance of a clerk, to go and review the video of the House proceedings to determine if indeed the Minister’s microphone was off during the said utterances.

The Speaker however did not update the House on the findings of the ‘VAR’ following the secret review.

Mokgware had accused Mabeo, formerly known for his role on television as an actor, of wasting time “acting” instead of attending to parliament business. The Minister had also initially retaliated by accusing Mokgware of “drinking on an empty stomach” prompting the House to burst into fits of laughter. Mokgware also accused members of the ruling  Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) of conspiring to conveniently collapse the quorum every time they do not agree with the subject being discussed in Parliament at a given time. VAR is in use at all times during every game of the World Cup, with a team of four referees always reviewing incidents in a studio away from the stadium. They would then consult the on-field referee to tell him whether they deem an incident worthy of a review. Should they do that then the on-field referee then stops the game to view the incident on screen before making a final decision.

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