Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Truant MPs paralyse parliament business

Debate on a motion proposing the scrapping off of the Media Practitioners Law was deferred Friday morning because there were more empty seats than MPs in the Parliament chamber.

Empty seats in parliament when the house is supposed to be sitting have become a sign of the times as truancy paralyses the Botswana parliament business. Parliament was Friday morning forced to adjourn before the scheduled time because most MPs had bunked off early to attend to personal business.

In a bid to clamp down on truancy, a frustrated deputy Speaker, Kagiso Molatlhegi warned that in future he will not allow MPs to take toilet breaks. Molatlhegi was forced to adjourn the Friday parliament session because the MPs present in the house could not reach the 21 magic number to form a quorum.

All hell broke loose after the deputy speaker granted parliament a 10 minutes toilet break. Dozens of MPs scrambled for their files and made a beeline for the parking lot, never to come back. Molatlhegi struggled to reconvene Parliament after the toilet break, and in a feat of frustration warned that “I will from now on disallow any break of session. I made the mistake thinking your requests were genuine.” Molatlhegi then moved that the house be adjourned for the weekend because there were not enough MPs to continue with the parliament business.

Truancy has plagued successive Botswana parliaments resulting in important business having to be deferred. Gaborone Central MP, Phenyo Butale, one of the few who attended the Friday session expressed unhappiness with legislators’ truancy saying the problem ran across the party divide.

Butale explained that most MPs bunked off during the break in the session to attend to constituency activities, funeral proceedings and cattle posts errands.

Also present were among others, Dithapelo Keorapetse(opposition Botswana Congress Party), Noah Salakae(opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change), Haskins Nkaigwa(UDC), Sedirwa Kgoroba(UDC), Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi(BDP), Nonofo Molefhi(BDP) and Alfred Madigele (BDP).

At the time Parliament was forced to adjourn, cabinet minister and founding Mmegi Editor, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi was on the floor to debate a motion tabled by Phenyo Butale calling on parliament to repeal the Media Practitioners Act which he argued has remained dormant because of opposition from the media fraternity.

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