A motion by Gaborone Central MP Dumelang Saleshando calling on parliament to allow him to table a private member’s bill to scrap the positions of Specially Nominated councillors threatens to revive the ruling Botswana Democratic Party factional infighting.
Saleshando, a member of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) wishes to table a private members’s bill amending the Local Government (District Councils) Act and Township Act, which governs the system of nominated councillors.
A BDP parliamentary caucus on Thursday did not form a quorum and could not adopt a party position on Saleshando’s motion.
It is understood that the A-Team faction, associated with President Lt Gen Ian Khama, has indicated that it opposes the motion while some members of the rival Barata-Phathi faction have indicated that they will rally behind Saleshando.
Other Barata-Phathi faction members are still dithering over the issue, apparently scared by President Khama’s investigation of party MPs who are reported to have teamed up with opposition in a bid to oppose his choice of nominated MPs.
Saleshando tabled his motion Friday morning, and the tug of war between the ruling party’s MPs began as Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and Gaborone South MP Kagiso Molathegi took the floor to shoot down the motion.
Venson-Moitoi argued that the motion was motivated by emotion because many were irked by the choice of nominated councillors and the principle.
Molathegi, on the other hand, opposed the motion, saying the BDP was better suited to amend the laws as the ruling party.
Gaborone West-South MP Botsalo Ntuane broke ranks with his colleagues in the BDP and supported the motion. He, however, qualified his support with an explanation that Saleshando’s motion was actually an opportunity for parliament to assert itself.
He urged MPs to allow Saleshando’s motion to be debated, arguing that MPs always complained that parliament was not independent and has been reduced to a lap dog of the executive.
He said that it was up to parliament to legislate on important issues which the executive does not prioritise.
“We need to empower ourselves as MPs,” adding that there was no need for parliament to shoot down Saleshando’s motion because he was merely trying to assert the independence of parliament as a law making body.
“If we promote a culture of private member’s bill we will expedite delivery,” said Ntuane.
He said that government was overloaded with work and making a system of introducing private member’s bill common could assist the executive.
He said that he would be the biggest fool to ever set foot in parliament if he was opposed to the bill because it could remedy the unrest in his constituency following uproar and misgivings over the candidates nominated by Minister Lebonaamang Mokalake to serve as nominated councillors.
“This is an opportunity for MPs to allay the notion that parliament is a rubberstamp,” he said.