BDP Chief Whip says Lucas was not yielding
Last Friday there was drama in Parliament as Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislators walked out of parliament in what was viewed as an effort to collapse the quorum and frustrate Member of Parliament for Bobonong, Taolo Lucas, who was tabling a motion calling on government to establish a social justice commission.
The motion read in part: “That this Honourable House requests Government to establish a Social Justice Commission to help address the acute levels of inequality in the country, equalize the opportunity structure, promote inclusiveness and advocate, protect or safeguard the interests and welfare of the marginalised sections of society.”
Led by the Vice President who is also the Leader of the House, Slumber Tsogwane, BDP members who were few in numbers defied the Speaker’s orders to sit down as they filed off and left parliament.
The Voice Staffer DANIEL CHIDA spoke to opposition MPs and the Chief Whip, Liakat Kablay on what really transpired.
Bobonong MP, Lucas:
The import of the motion was that levels of inequality in Botswana were too high; that we have just too few people wallowing in obscene opulence and just too many citizens live in debilitating poverty.
I indicated among other things that the World Bank places Botswana among the top 5 unequal nations in the World.
I also indicated that whilst the national poverty prevalence stands at 16.3%, Kweneng West poverty prevalence rate stood at 50.6%, Ngwaketse West (40.3%), Kgalagadi South (39.5%), Ghanzi (36.3%) and Ngamiland West (33.4%).
I argued that the national poverty prevalence of 16.3% conceals the extent of poverty in many regions of the country.
It was at this point that VP Tsogwane showed a lot of discomfort and he interrupted my presentation with points of order and procedure.
I continued my presentation and focused on inequalities of land ownership.
I told the House how some people are without a residential plot while a few owned huge chunks of land.
As I nailed this point, BDP members started leaving. The Speaker asked their Chief Whip Kablay to call them back but he also never returned.
Eventually the BDP collapsed the quorum so they could regroup to oppose the motion next week.
I was disappointed but not shocked. The BDP is not ready for prime time.
They are not ready for transformation. Come today, Friday, they will be pursued again. They can’t hide.
Francistown South MP, Wynter Mmolotsi:
Apparently the BDP bench had fewer numbers than the opposition in the house which meant that Lucas’s motion was going to be adopted contrary to their will.
The only option they had was to run away which they did so that the motion can be rescheduled to be discussed when BDP is in majority. It is very irresponsible of the ruling party to break quorum just for their personal interests.
Ngami MP, Carter Hikuama:
I heard they were instructed to walkout. This proves BDP MPs only serve the BDP leadership not the electorates who elected them.
It also demonstrates how they care less about nurturing our democracy. To them being in power is just about their personal lives not anything else
Maun West MP, Goretetse Kekgonegile:
It’s a big concern because that it how they kill opposition motions.
They collapse quorum deliberately and on Friday they killed discussions on Taolo’s good motion. They need to be called out.
Leader of Opposition and Maun West MP: Dumelang Saleshando
BDP did not have the numbers to defeat the motion. They were instructed to walk out so that the debate ends.
I think they will come in their numbers this coming week to debate and defeat the motion
Serowe North MP, Baratiwa Mathoothe:
During the presentation of the motion BDP MPs realized that they were the minority in parliament and lacked fire power, so they were in fear that the motion would pass, hence they decided to walk out to collapse the quorum.
Their mission is to have the motion presented in the coming week when they will be having the numbers.
The issue that was raised by the chief whip that MP Lucas was refusing with clarification is not true because he gave the Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane more time to ask questions.
They asked unnecessary things to take all time allocated for his presentation.
Chief Whip, Liakat Kablay: It is true that our members left the house when Lucas was in the floor but were not collapsing the quorum. Lucas was not yielding for them when they wanted clarity during his presentation.
In parliament when another member of the house interjects, you yield and allow that person to ask a question or commend you but he was refusing.
The MPs then decided to leave as they found no need to be in parliament.
After they left, I followed them to get the answer and I gave the Deputy Speaker the response.
We have been supporting motions brought by opposition members but unfortunately Lucas was not cooperative.