Members of Parliament have prevailed over the Speaker of the National Assembly, Margaret Nasha, to call a meeting of Parliamentarians on Friday to discuss the ongoing public sector strike after President Ian Khama spurned their requests to call an emergency meeting of parliament.
Nasha, who confirmed calling the meeting, told The Telegraph that parliamentarians “want to discuss the situation as it prevails in the country. They have been coming to me on a regular basis…they thought I could summon parliament. However, the constitution does not allow me to call an emergency meeting of parliament,” she explained.
Nasha said that only the President can summon Parliament, while the Speaker only calls scheduled meetings of parliament. So far Parliament is scheduled to meet around July.
According to Nasha the ‘General Assembly’ as it is will host MPs on Friday morning, adding that as facilitator she would chair the meeting.
A week ago opposition legislators wrote a letter to Nasha urging her to convene a special meeting of parliament to discuss the public strike. The MPs are of the view that parliament can help to resolve the impasse between government and the public sector unions.
The MPs, among them Botsalo Ntuane, Dumelang Saleshando and Abram Kesupile stated that parliament could not “remain silent and indifferent, as may be legitimately perceived by some, when the public suffers great pains on account of a dysfunctional public service”. The legislators say they want to participate in mediation efforts to prevent further chaos.
Indications are that The Office of the President did not want to give credence to public and international perceptions that there is a national crisis by calling an emergency parliament. Government spokesperson and deputy permanent secretary in Khama’s office, Jeff Ramsay, told the international media that the situation was under control.
“While the strike has certainly not paralyzed the government service as a whole, it has had a negative impact in some areas. No hospitals or schools have been closed, but some have been affected,” Ramsay said.