23 April 2019

Botswana: MPs Cash and Go-Collapsing Quorum

The last day of Parliament session last week reflected little about the increase of sitting allowances for Members of Parliament. They came clocked and off they went - that is despite having had voted an increment of their sitting allowance just the previous day.

Deputy Speaker Kagiso Molatlhegi was forced to dissolve Parliament business with none of the over 14 motions which were on the agenda debated.

Quite often some MPs show up on Fridays and leave after a few minutes having fulfilled their necessities of claiming the day's sitting allowance. The disappointed Molatlhegi regretted the trend was a serious problem in the just ended parliament session.

Parliament Standing Orders provide that there should be at least 21 MPs out of the total 64 to form a quorum for the parliament business to run.

Molatlhegi said the MPs have developed a tendency of absconding on Fridays just after registering for the seating allowance, warning that the MPs should desist from such act as it compromises the quality of parley outcomes as well as wasting time.

He said the trend of breaking quorum and fleeing the Parliament has become a serious problem.

"I am very disappointed on you honorable MPs at how you continue to intentionally break the quorum on Fridays. After registering you just disappear. I thought that as the whole Parliament business closes you were going to cooperate so that we wrap up everything before the July session. This conduct should end because it means like that is all about the seating allowance," charged Molatlhegi when addressing the few MPs who had been diligent enough to remain.

Some of the motions that were to be debated on the day included proposals for the clearing of loans for retrenched BCL Employees; expansion of the bill of rights and establishment of a Commercial Court.

On the other hand BDP Chief whip Liakat Kablay celebrated the achievements of the just-ended parliament session saying they managed to pass very important bills such as the Electoral Amendment (Repeal) Bill, 2018 (No. 36 of 2018) whose objective is to repeal the Electoral (Amendment) Act, No. 7 of 2016.

Kablay however just like the Deputy Speaker expressed concern at how MPs tend to behave on Fridays. Kablay said it is now clear that some MPs are only in the House to get sitting allowances.

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