Dear Mr. Speaker, You dropped the Ball: An Open Letter to the Speaker of Botswana’s Parliament

Dear Mr. Speaker

I write this letter with a broken heart. I never thought the day would come where I would feel a tinge of shame for being a citizen of this country. My shame emanates from what happened in the august house of Parliament on the 16th day of September 2020. I watched with utter shock as Mr. Majaga stood in the house of Parliament making a personal statement. I must hasten to say according to the rules of Parliament he was well within his rights. I have always maintained that just because it is legal does not mean it right. Legality has been on numerous occasions used to meet out the worst atrocities that humanity has ever seen. Remember apartheid was legal so the hunting of the khoi.

Mr. Speaker, what really saddened me is that the statement got your blessings to be read before the house. I am left to wonder if all that was read was approved by you to be read. As you stood in the previous weeks to allow a petition which, in part, called for the Honourable Majaga to take a leave of absence I was filled with hope. Your words gave hope that Parliament would from thereon be a place where we could go refuge. Little did I know that I was being set up for a bigger disappointment.

The statement by Honourable Majaga, notwithstanding his right to make it, had no place in the august house. I am disappointed that you gave it the light of day. Mr. Speaker, all that you sought to achieve when allowing the petition to be presented to parliament was today sullied by partisan sentiments. The applause and head nodding that I caught a glimpse of from some members of Parliament was telling. Some revelled in Honourable Majaga diatribe masquerading as a personal statement. You, Mr. Speaker, had, within your power, the ability to preserve the sanctity of what the petition. If I may quote you Mr. Speaker “You dropped the ball”.

Mr. Speaker, the intention of the petition was to preserve the sanctity of the house of Parliament and not to pronounce on the guilt of any member. The petition was a call to all members of parliament and anyone holding an office of public responsibility to always put the sanctity of the office first. I believe you had the responsibility to give effect to that plea. Today, in compliance thereof, you had a duty to say No to Mr. Majaga’s request.

Mr. speaker, my other disappointment lies not with yourself but the Vice President. His statement to the effect that petitions were problematic to Parliament were not only tone deaf and ill timed but utterly irresponsible to say the least. As the public, we are stakeholders in this democracy and our role goes beyond a mark on the ballot paper. We need an avenue to put before parliament matters of great concern that we feel should be articulated in our own voices. Standing Order 35 is that avenue. While at times lobbying is a possibility, there are times where voices need to come up unabridged.

If the Vice President is not aware, some countries allow people who are not members of parliament to, on invitation, address parliament or equal bodies. The reason is pretty obvious and if the Vice President having been on leadership position for more than two decades cannot appreciate it then we truly are on our own.

Mr. Speaker, it is my hope that wisdom will not betray in future and you will, as always, ably do your job.

Yours with a broken heart

Raging Millennial 

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