Speaker gives loo red light

Daniel Chida
SPEAKER: Phandu Skelemani

BLOCKED FROM MAKING A STATEMENT DESPITE STANDING ORDERS GIVING HIM THE RIGHT TO DO SO

Following last Tuesday’s train accident in which two people lost their lives, Minister of Transport and Communications, Thulaganyo Segokgo has told parliament an investigation into the tragedy will be conducted.

However, when the acting Leader of Opposition (LOO),Dr Kesitegile Gobutswang who is also the MP for Sefhare/Ramokgonami requested to give an official statement as well,he was turned down by the Speaker, Phandu Skelemani.

According to *Standing Order, 9.3.2: LOO have the right to make official statements in the Assembly on important national and international issues on behalf of the majority opposition.

The Voice Staffer, DANIEL CHIDA unfolds it for you:

MR SPEAKER: I do not think it is proper to allow this Parliament after the address by Segokgo, to have another statement from this House on the same issue, immediately following that statement, when we now know that the matter is under investigation.

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I think it is proper that we hold the Minister Segokgo to his word to come back, otherwise we are going to be sending confusing remarks to the nation, I think we should avoid that.

I say Dr Gobotswang, if I am not mistaken in my perception of what you want to cover. I will not allow you to make the statement.

MR MOATLHODI: Point of clarification. With all the trepidation concerning your statement of this morning, I thought Dr Gobotswang asked before to bring his statement to the house.

If he didn’t do so, with all due respect, let him do.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Honourable Moatlhodi, I repeat myself again, I found the copy of the statement from Dr Gobotswang when I returned from lunch, which means that he had delivered it.

MR MOATLHODI: You interrupted me.

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MR SPEAKER: I stopped you because your sequencing, which seems to be the real point of departure, is wrong Honourable Member.

MR KAPINGA: Point of order Mr Speaker. I am only rising to ask you to consider this issue Mr Speaker that you referred to in your decision.

You were saying that if the acting LOO was to make a statement in this House, after the Minister has made a statement, it would send confusing information to the nation.

I just want to raise the point that this House consists of the ruling party and the opposition.

It being composed of the ruling party and the opposition, both voices need to be heard by the nation.

If there is any divergence in the voices, there is nothing wrong with that Mr Speaker.

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Both voices need to be heard. We are not going to say anything heretical.

We are just going to say what we think about what has happened.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Honourable Kapinga, you are quite right that the House is composed of political divisions, political parties, who will hold different views on any item and their views should be heard. I agree with you totally.

Where I do not agree with you is that on a matter which is still pending before this House, where we are waiting for the Minister to come back.

In terms of his promise, we should allow another statement which at best will sort of question what has been said by the Minister who is responsible.

It may be indeed that you have different facts and you will recall what I did yesterday after the Minister made the statement – I allowed many questions so that those who have knowledge of anything contrary to what the Minister has said could indicate to him and this House that is he aware that there is a, b, c; if he does not agree, this is what he told the House.

As far as I can tell, there are four political parties in this House. Imagine each one of them claiming the right to make a statement on the same issue. I shudder to think what will be said to Batswana.

We will have the same opportunity to ask him because he promised that within so many days, he may have a preliminary report.

It is not my intention to stifle anybody. In a democracy, we cannot do that.

MR MMOLOTSI: Point of order Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I think where you are confusing me right now is where your ruling actually takes away the right given to the LOO by the Standing Orders to make a statement.

According to our Standing Orders, only the Ministers and LOO can make a statement in the House.

As far as I am concerned, the opposition has a way of looking at issues and then the ruling party has got their eye, they have got a way of looking at the issues as well.

I was thinking that the Minister was representing the Government and the LOO is representing the opposition majority. Earlier on you also indicated that there are four parties in the House but there are only three parties in the House: the BDP, UDC and the AP, but the AP according to the Standing Orders…Oh! BPF, oh!

HONOURABLE MEMBERS: …(Laughter!)…

MR MMOLOTSI: The AP and the BPF according to the Standing Orders are not allowed to make a statement, only the LOO.

I would plead with you to consider this one.

MR SPEAKER: That is the yo-yo which I think we should avoid. I agree perfectly.

The opposition has a right and I would be surprised if they see things the same way as the ruling party.

Your opportunity is not lost to question the Minister. If he does not come back as he promised, then Honourable Mmolotsi, I would be forced to reconsider whether the other people who seem to see things differently should not now be allowed to tell the nation how they also observe the same incident.

We are not losing that, I do not think we should ever lose that. That is the right which we have.

MR MOATLHODI: On a point of clarification. The Minister told us that he is going to investigate but how long will it take, it can even take up next year February.

I don’t understand why the Speaker assumes that the LOO will bring conflicting reports? We are a just and compassionate nation. Please reconsider your position

MR SPEAKER: No, Honourable Moatlhodi, I am not going to do that. I will explain myself sufficiently that, as much as you are different political parties in this House, we are still one House. The matter is very serious, I never said he is going to refuse.

On a serious matter like this, while waiting to receive a feedback. No, Honourable Members! I am closing this issue.

*Standing Orders contain rules for the conduct of proceedings in the House and for the exercise of the powers possessed by the House.

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