News and Information

BDP MPs defend appointment of former soldiers to Cabinet
November 19, 2004
19 November, 2004

PARLIAMENT - As the debate on President Festus Mogae's state-of-the-nation address continues in Parliament, BDP MPs are using every opportunity to defend the appointment of former soldiers to Cabinet posts.

Ngwaketse South MP Peter Siele joined the fray on Wednesday to criticise those opposed to the appointments as belittling Batswana who voted for them.

Siele, who is also the Assistant Minister of Agriculture, said the accusations were an affront on the intelligence of Batswana who voted them as their representatives in Parliament.

He charged that those who were against former soldiers in Cabinet spoke as if those people were given preferential treatment or entered Parliament through undemocratic means.

Critics, among them university academics and opposition parties, argue that the appointment of former army men in key Cabinet posts was likely to scare away foreign investors worried about the military's involvement in African politics.

He said former soldiers, like the rest of Batswana, were also free to stand for political office as long as they went through proper democratic processes. Their status should not deny them constitutional rights enjoyed by every Motswana.

The MP observed that Batswana who voted them into Parliament did so with the trust and confidence that they would serve them with the dignity and trust they placed on them.

Siele commended the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for conducting the elections well in that they were free and fair.

However, he complained about the delay to dispatch voters' rolls for inspection by political parties because of bureaucracy. He said the current system was too long and time consuming and suggested that for easy access they should be dispatched to IEC offices in districts.

Siele criticised those who doubted the BDP's victory in the last general election, arguing that after garnering 44 out of 57 seats there was no doubt that the BDP won with a landslide victory.

He said those who used percentages of people who voted for the BDP as against the opposition were simply trying to confuse Batswana.

He appealed to government to review the Electoral Act so Batswana who were barred by their religious beliefs to vote on a Saturday could be accommodated.

The Ngwaketse South legislator suggested that instead of polling stations closing at 7pm, hours could be adjusted so they remained open until 8pm because "Sabbath starts on Friday at 7am and ends on Saturday at 7pm".

On other issues, Siele complained that syndicates that Batswana in some areas had been advised to form to get electricity connections were failing because the fees were still too high for them.

Regarding the Nteletsa telephone connection project, the MP advised government to monitor companies engaged for the project because some of them were doing a shoddy job.

He said some telephones were rendered useless after only a few days of installation.

Siele refuted allegations that education in Botswana was of low standard, citing the example of Batswana nurses who had relocated overseas for greener pastures that if they could be employed there then such claims were not true.

Meanwhile, Siele expressed concern about moral degeneration among Batswana, saying the emerging sub-culture of "sugar daddies and sugar mummies" must be condemned and nipped in the bud, especially in the face of a deadly pandemic like HIV/AIDS.

He said elderly people some of whom held responsible positions in society used their wealth to entice young girls and boys to become their sexual partners. "This is immoral and must be condemned," said Siele. BOPA


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