Tuesday, October 20, 2020

UDC takes Parliament Speaker to court

The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) will this week approach the High Court seeking an order to stop the Speaker of the national Assembly Gladys Kokorwe expunging from the Parliamentary Hansard a statement made by its President Duma Boko.

The UDC will also challenge the suspension of Selibe Phikwe West MP Dithapelo Keorapetse and Gaborone North MP Haskins Nkagiwa from Parliament for a week.

Boko’s statement that was presented in Parliament February condemned Government for attacking China over its territorial claims to the South China Sea.

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Member of Parliament Ignatius Moswaane moved an urgent motion last week seeking to expunge Boko’s statement from the Parliamentary records.

Moswaane said the facts contained in Boko’s statement were false and therefore could not be permitted in the Hansard. He said Boko failed to bring forward evidence that Chinese Embassy was closed due to attacks by Botswana government on China over its territorial claims to the South China Sea. Moswaane insisted that the Chinese Embassy was never closed.

Opposition believes that expunging a statement made by the leader of opposition would be a bad precedence. Therefore they have since engaged Mboki Chilisa of Collins Chilisa Consultants to challenge Moswaane’s motion and interdict Kokorwe from expunging Boko’s statement.

Speaking to this Publication, Member of Parliament for Gaborone Central Phenyo Butale said the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) was likely to use its numbers in parliament to distort the recording of debates in Parliament.

“For example if the leader of opposition can give a stinging response to the state of the nation address the BDP is likely to expunge that statement from the records just because they have numbers in Parliament,” he said.

The opposition believes that expunging the leader of opposition statement from the Hansard is an infringement of their freedom of expression, which is why they want the speaker to be interdicted from what they termed “censorship.”

The opposition also intends to challenge the suspension of Selibe Phikwe West MP Dithapelo Keorapetse and Gaborone North MP Haskins Nkagiwa from Parliament for a week.

The two were suspended last Thursday by Kokorwe for insisting on point of orders and point of procedures after the speaker spurned their calls.

Opposition want the court to interpret rules governing Parliament; to say whether or not the speaker has a discretion not or to allow points of orders or any point of procedure. They want the courts to determine whether or not Kokorwe was acting accordingly when he denied the two MPs to rise on point of order and point of procedure respectively.

“Our understanding is that the Speaker of the National Assembly has to give members of Parliament chance to rise on either point or orders or procedure and that is when she can make a ruling on the raised point of order or point of procedure,” said Butale.

Francistown Member of Parliament Wynter Mmolotsi also asked permission from Kokorwe to table a motion of no confidence on her this week.

“Mmolotsi took that move because we have lost confidence on the Speaker of the National Assembly. Kokorwe is said to have asked for reasons for Mmolotsi’s intended motion and Mmolotsi has submitted his reasons Friday; therefore the Speaker of the National Assembly  is to determine urgency and whether the matter is of public importance,” said Butale.

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