The Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Margaret Nasha in her recently launched book MADAM SPEAKER SIR about the workings of the Botswana Democratic Party as well as the leadership style of President Seretse Khama Ian Khama, makes no secret that she harbors ambitions of a second term as Speaker. To what extent does the autobiography affects Nasha’s chances for a second term?
Nasha herself has admitted that the book could have an impact on her ambitions “this book can do one of two things; it could make people wonder whether I am the right person for the job and not vote for me but they may also want to retain me as they may be happy with my performance so there could be a positive” she said in an interview with The Gazette.
Asked if she was not worried that she may lose President Khama’s support in her bid as he may feel the book is too negative, Nasha feels it may not be a factor “it is an added advantage to have the President’s support make no doubt about that, but the new system of secret ballot opens up the competition and gives one a chance” she said optimistically.
BDP veteran and former Speaker of the National Assembly Ray Molomo feels the book has dented her chances of making it back “I don’t think Khama will like the content of the book unless he has broad shoulders. Of course other leaders would just appreciate that as leaders they can be criticized,” said Molomo, adding that Nasha could be saved by fellow BDP member especially if she had a good relationship with them, “They could vote her in” he added.
Standing Order number 4(2) states that “any Member, having first ascertained that the person to be proposed is willing to serve if elected, may, addressing himself to the Chair, move in the following terms ‘that… do take the Chair of this Assembly’.” As such, in the event that the party does not nominate Nasha, she can still be nominated by any sitting Member of Parliament.
Section 59 of the Constitution states that “There shall be a Speaker of the National Assembly who shall be elected by the Members of the Assembly from among persons who are Members of the Assembly or from among persons who are not Members of the Assembly.” This provision in principle means that Members of Parliament do vote for the speaker.
Traditionally, BDP internal processes as confirmed by Molomo have influenced who eventually gets to be the Speaker. Molomo says in the BDP all the proposed names are taken to the BDP parliamentary caucus where they agree on a candidate.
Molomo, who is the author of ‘Democratic Deficit in the Parliament of Botswana’, however expressed satisfaction with Dr Nasha’s performance since taking up the position. “I personally feel impressed by Nasha’s performance since she took up the position. She has fought for parliamentary independence and I have no doubt that given another term she would succeed in making parliament an independent entity.”
Political Analyst Lesole Machacha shares Molomo’s sentiment that Nasha has committed political suicide in the short term because she might not get another term. “But if you look at it in the long term it can be an opportunity because people will see her as credible. She wants to be credible before BDP members so that she stand chances to be appointed to higher positions after Khama’s term ends. The best way to win confidence is to criticize someone so that you win credibility,” he said.
It would be interesting to see how Nasha’s bid for a second term will pan out given some ruling party members’ perception that it has brought the BDP into disrepute. Whatever the ultimate outcome, Nasha will be remembered in history as a courageous, assertive and candid woman who freely expressed her views unhindered by discernment and fears.