Monday, July 15, 2024


At the height of political campaigns for the 2009 General Election, current Speaker of the National Assembly, then Cabinet Minister Margaret Nasha, urged Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) faithful to vote for the party by way of casting their vote for BDP candidates, irrespective of their abilities or state of mind.

Nasha’s argument was that after all BDP representatives are merely going to implement BDP policies hence quality should be of any concern.

Three years later Nasha’s submission has come to haunt her. Mmegi (July 6, 2012) reports that the Speaker had to angrily shout orders to some MPs to be mindful of the core business of Parliament. I am not amused at all. The events of that day are just a reminder of the caliber of most of our parliamentarians ÔÇô an absolute disgrace to be blunt.

It is no wonder that many of them did not take kindly to this column’s essay titled ‘They have turned our Parliament into a playground for Zombies’. Perhaps the column used very crude or inappropriate wording but I believe that voters should have the right to fearlessly defend the sanctity of Parliament by being critical and even disrespectful of political leaders who do not take themselves seriously or those who blemish the integrity, dignity and respect of our National Assembly by conducting themselves improperly in Parliament.

I know that there are some MPs who take their responsibilities seriously. However, a majority of them are the equivalent of the walking dead hence Parliament has established a reputation as a sacred venue to talk about toilet paper and distribute flyers for some traditional healers who claim to have the talent to enlarge any organ of the human body. We must all be worried as voters and engage in serious commentary about those representatives who are damaging the image of our law making body by taking toilet stuff to parliament.

In the same story it was reported that the other day when MP Rayner Makosha was on the floor, some MPs kept laughing. We are left to speculate why they were laughing and a plausible guesswork is that the MP’s contribution was pathetic, absurd and plain trash even to those MPs that are known to be extremely passive, withdrawn and dead from the neck upward. This reminded me about a conversation I had with some of my colleagues. You see, I used to know the names of all MPs specifically because their contributions inspired some confidence in Parliamentary business and by and large our representatives.

It was kind of fashionable to idolize them as important persons in the society. However, most of the current bunch of MPs is prominent failures who are dominated by a desire to caress the leadership. Given their tameness, I suspect that some of them even doubt their belonging to the human kingdom and therefore their ability to make sense to other people hence they prefer to remain silent most of the time. They are uninspiring and generally dull and an embarrassment to the nation, which is why many serious people cannot identify with them or even give them some sort of respect.

The same Mmegi story reveals that the Deputy Speaker also had to be called to order for distributing literature in the house. It is reported that Honorable Moatlhodi then ran out of the house. This indicates the low regard some members have for the house. They take it for a shebeen where anyone can distribute any kind of advertizing material and talk about anything from feces to porno. MPs just attend Parliament Sessions to register for sitting allowance and then run off. This is pure theft and must be halted. Sitting allowance must start being paid to deserving legislatures only. MPs must satisfy some accountability criterion to qualify for the allowance so that gold diggers are sniffed out.

It is an insult for politicians to admonish public servants for poor performance when many of them spent quality time idling in Parliament like glue sniffing addicts. They must not be immune from some kind of performance assessment which many workers struggle to satisfy and get a salary notch upward. Perhaps the reason why they are obsessed with targeting public servants and singling them out for poor performance is to deflect public dissatisfaction away from themselves.

This cannot be allowed to go on unchallenged. Our Parliamentarians must be subjected to some objective assessment for them to qualify for the generous allowances on offer. Such assessment should include the number of Parliamentary committees they have sat on, the number of questions they asked in parliament, the number of motions they have moved and the number of high profile public functions they have officiated at.

In some part of the UK, there is a tradition called ‘Weighing the Mayor’ where Mayors are literally weighed in full view of the public to see whether or not they have gained weight at the taxpayer’s expense. Weighty offenders are then subjected to humiliation by being booed or even pelted with rotten fruits and banana skins. I think we need to adapt this funny assessment method to local politics and apply it to all political representatives so that all weighty offenders are publicly shamed so that they do not seek re-election. Why should we allow our representatives to make us look like brainless creatures whose worth expires after casting a vote?

Talented artists must emulate people like Brett Murray of The Spear painting and do some artwork that is highly critical of MPs who are not fit to hold public office. Cartoonists must also emulate Zapiro and expose dubious behaviors of some MPs through some kind of serious humour.

We also need to review Standing Orders with a view to giving the Speaker more powers to be able to throw out pukes and deny them a sitting allowance for stupid commentary and for acting dead. Of course, such powers may be used negatively but there is need for desperate interventions to restore the dignity of our law making body.


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