Saturday, December 9, 2023

Speaker juggles hats in controversial decision against Boko

The Speaker of the national assembly ÔÇô Gladys Kokorwe was judge, jury and executioner behind the Parliamentary Business Advisory Committee decision that endorsed her earlier ruling that Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President and leader of opposition Duma Boko is guilty of plagiarism.   This followed an accusation by the Minister of Lands and Housing Prince Maele that Boko plagiarized the government land policy. The issue sparked a heated debate on the parliament floor before the Speaker; Gladys Kokorwe refereed it to the Parliamentary Business Advisory Committee.   The speaker then put her wig aside and chaired the proceedings of the committee before voting alongside two other BDP members of Parliament to rule that Boko was guilty of plagiarism.  


The voting was along partisan lines with the two opposition MPs in the committee voting that Boko was not guilty of plagiarism. The speaker also voted alongside the two ruling party MPs to endorse his ruling on the parliament floor that the records as they appear in the Hansard should not be changed and finally the Hansard should be distributed to the customers.   The Parliamentary Business Advisory Committee is made up of five Members; two are from the opposition side and another two from the ruling party. The Speaker of the National Assembly is the fifth member and she is the chairman of the committee. After announcing the decision by Parliamentary Business Advisory Committee Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Kagiso Molatlhegi refused to allow any debate around the around the issue  saying the Business Advisory Committee had dealt with the matter and he was just announcing what was agreed.   On the other hand members of Parliament from the opposition asked the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly to publicly state how the Business Advisory Committee arrived at its decision. Molatlhegi, however, insisted that the issue was not up for debate.   MP for Selibe Phikwe West Dithapelo Keorapetse asked Molatlhegi why he was not mentioning that the speaker of the National Assembly Gladys Kokorwe cast a vote supporting the members of the ruling party.  


“We refused as the opposition and we are still refusing that there is evidence of plagiarism on the leader of Opposition speech,” said Keorapetse. Molatlhegi said Keorapetse submissions were not important and they were unnecessary. “You are challenging the speaker’s ruling, that matter is not open for debate,” emphasized Molatlhegi.   Molepolole South MP Tlamelo Mmatli stood on a point of order and said it was important that the public knows that the very same speaker who made a ruling in the house was part of the Parliamentary Business Advisory Committee and she voted supporting members of the ruling BDP that her ruling stands. Haskins Nkagiwa, Gaborone North MP said he has lost confidence in the speaker of the National Assembly.


“I just want to appreciate the procedure of bringing a motion of no confidence against the speakership in this parliament. Is it the same procedure that I need to go and convince you (Molatlhegi) before I can bring the motion or I can just bring it? Asked Nkagiwa; denouncing the speakership of the National Assembly.   Molatlhegi insisted that the matter was addressed by the Business Advisory Committee and they made decisions there and he was only announcing what was agreed there. “We will not debate it in Parliament,” said Molatlhegi reminding MPs of Standing order 59.1 that say the decision of the national speaker shall be final. “There is a procedure to follow if anyone of you wants to challenge my ruling, you don’t do it here,” said Molatlhegi as he closed the debate. 


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