Breaking News

Increasing SEMPs builds inclusive Parliament

05 Jun 2024

The resolve by government to increase the number of Specially Elected Members of Parliament (SEMPs) is to afford other disadvantaged groups in the society an opportunity to have a voice and representation in the National Assembly.

This was said by Minister for State President, Mr Kabo Morwaeng in Parliament on Monday when he rejected some proposed amendments to the Constitution Amendment Bill of 2024, explaining that the intention was not to entirely add to the number of SEMPs as suggested by some legislators.

“Having diverse representation in Parliament is yet another way to promote democracy in the country as well as inclusivity,” Mr Morwaeng said.

Some legislators, among them, Maun East MP, Mr Goretetse Kekgonegile, Francistown South MP, Mr Wynter Mmolotsi and Selebi Phikwe East MP, Mr Kgoberego Nkawana, had proposed that the amendment clause in the Bill seeking to increase the number of SEMPs be either deleted or be changed to keep the number at six instead of increasing it to 10.

Motivating the proposed amendment before it was rejected by Parliament, Mr Kekgonegile suggested that Clause 11, under Section 58 (2) of the Bill, be deleted such that the number of SEMP remained six while Mr Mmolotsi opined that the clause be amended by deleting Section 58 (2b), so that there was no provision for SEMPs.

On one hand, Mr Nkawana’s proposed that while they proposed that the number be kept at six, it was however important that election of the members was influenced by a popular vote.

Also supporting the proposed amendments, Bobonong MP, Mr Taolo Lucas disagreed with the increase of SEMPs, saying that would be an expensive dispensation given that government had previously increased constituencies by only four due to lack of funds.

“SEMPs are expensive because they earn constituency allowances even though they do not have constituencies,” Mr Lucas said.

In her argument, SEMP Dr Unity Dow disapproved the intention to increase SEMPs it was wrong to deceive the nation by making it believe that of the 10 SEMPs seats, some would be reserved for women, youth or people living with disabilities. “If that is the case, that could have been made or stated clearly on the amendment clause amendment,” Dr Dow said.

For his part, Selebi Phikwe West MP, Mr Dithapelo Keorapetse said that the number be kept at six because Botswana Parliament was the smallest in the region and therefore increasing the number of SEMPs would be costly to government. However, Mr Keorapetse acknowledged that in the past increase had benefited the country by bringing people with diverse expertise into Parliament.

Kgalagadi North MP, Ms Talita Monnakgotla disagreed with the proposals, saying increasing the number of SEMPs was a good dispensation that would benefit mostly women and disadvantaged groups. Mogoditshane MP, Mr Tumiso Rakgare also disagreed with the proposed amendments, arguing that the move to increase SEMPs also was important, as it afforded a chance to increase women representation in Parliament, whom he said currently found it challenging to secure themselves parliamentary seats through general election.

Mr Rakgare said it was commendable that during President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi’s tenure and leadership, such a dispensation benefitted more women in the country. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Lorato Gaofise

Location : GABORONE

Event : Parliament

Date : 05 Jun 2024