Parliament was on Tuesday forced to adjourn for the second time in less than a week because it failed to form a quorum. The cause of this unexpected turn of events was the absence of 32 BDP MPS and13 opposition parties MPS,many of who were addressing kgotla meetings at the same time they were expected to be debating national issues in parliament.
The 20 Members of Parliament who were present, 15 from the BDP and five from opposition parties combined were one MP short to meet the required number for proceedings to continue. Blaming the unfortunate scenario on the BDP MPS, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Chief Whip, Bagalatia Aaron said the ruling BDP has agreed during their caucus to boycott debates on the state of the nation address.
Aaron also dismissed allegations that some Ministers did not attend because they were busy, citing the Minister of Mineral Energy and Water Resources, Ponatshego Kedikilwe as an example of a dedicated MP who runs a busy ministry but was committed enough to always make time to attend parliament.
Reiterating Aaron’ sentiments was Botswana National Front (BNF)’s Chief Whip, Mephato Reatile who accused BDP MPS of having cultivated a bad tendency of walking out after answering questions. Reatile also condemned ministers for scheduling their Kgotla meetings in such a way that they would clash with Parliament sessions. “I don’t want to be accused of sabotaging ministers visits to my constituency by missing their address while attending parliament but if their meetings continue to clash with parliament, it is going to paralyse debates unless of course the government agrees to do away with the need to form a quorum during debates, especially when there is no need for a vote.
Botswana Movement for Democracy’s Chief Whip, Wynter Mmolotsi said that there was nowhere Opposition MPs were going to make up the numbers because some of them were on international trips while others were touring with ministers who were out addressing kgotla meetings, leaving only a few to attend parliament.
BDP Deputy Chief Whip, Olebile Gaborone however in his angry response to the opposition party MPs accusations said that each member has the responsibility to be in Parliament and he was therefore not going to account for any one’s absenteeism.