Sunday, April 21, 2024

What happened in parliament is appalling

What happened inside Parliament on Monday has all the shades of Zimbabwe in the 1990s when security personnel loyal to President Robert Mugabe harassed and assaulted opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

During those days it was commonplace for the world to see images of a bleeding Tsvangirai on televisions across the globe.

Botswana is one of the countries that condemned the brutality of Zimbabwean security personnel on Tsvangirai.
Years later, Botswana was to be a country that offered Tsvangirai refuge when he fled his native country following disputed elections that saw heightened flaring of violence that bordered on the carnage.

It would seem like what we thought was a Zimbabwean character has now caught up with us.

As Batswana we have always prided ourselves as a nation that resolved its differences amicably, with dialogue and without resorting to violence.

If images coming from Parliament are true, then those days of peace and serenity are indeed history.

It would seem like we are now venturing into a new territory. And Zimbabwe seems to be upon us.

For the state to now resort to violence to settle what are essentially political differences in parliament is despicable and deplorable.

The scene doing rounds where Members of Parliament were manhandled by security officers have no place in our democracy.

It is a sign that the Speaker of National assembly is fast losing their moral authority as a repository of impartiality and fairness.

The fact that Members of opposition can no longer trust both the Speaker and her Deputy should be an indictment on the office of Speaker of Parliament.

While the situation has this time gone really overboard, the undercurrents were long in the making.

For some time now opposition MPs have complained about the impartiality and fairness of the Speaker and her Deputy.

There is a context to it.

It all has its history in the manner in which Speaker was appointed.

While some of us were ready to give her the benefit of doubt, skeptics have always warned us that Ms Gladys Kokorwe was brought in to replace Dr Margaret Nasha so that she could do the bidding of the executive, especially President Ian Khama.

It would seem like those detractors are quickly being vindicated.

What has happened in Parliament on Monday is not only an embarrassment, it also should shame the office of the Speaker, not least because it is a new height in the encroachment of Parliamentary independence by the executive.

What has happened should fill the office of the Speaker with shame.

Whatever the fault of MPs, and we are by no way implying there were any faults on their part, to manhandle an elected official in the manner that security officers did cannot be condoned.

It is reprehensible and unpardonable not least because it contaminates the sanctity of parliament.

We call on the Speaker of Parliament to reassert and reinstate the independence of Parliament from the executive.

Under the current situation, the starting point would be for her to condemn the action by security personnel on Members of Parliament and also reassure the nation that what happened on Monday will not happen again.
She must also ensure the safety and security of MPs.

A public apology is in order.

Or else we will be tempted to suspect the complicity her office and that of her deputy in what happened to some MPs on Monday.

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