All the 57 publicly elected Members of Parliament (MPs) are presently running helter-skelter reconciling their election expenditure as the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) expect them to have submitted the reports not later than the 26th of this month.
The electoral act clearly states that, “within 90 days after the results of any election has been declared, every candidate at that election shall render to the returning officer a true return in such form as the Secretary may direct and verified by an affidavit,” reads section 87 of the act. The affidavit should show all the expenses which have been paid during the election campaign period and all the election expenses which are unpaid and undisputed.
The act further says, all money which, under the provisions of section 85, they are required to disclose in the return and the name of the person from whom he received such money. Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration (MOPAPA) Kabo Morwaeng successfully moved as a matter of urgency for; “Honourable members to have submitted their returns on election expenses for the 2019 elections by the 26 January 2020.”
Failure by the members of the August house to submit will leave them with devastating consequences hence the MPs are racing against time to submit the reports. According to the act, in the case of a successful candidate at an election and the return has not been rendered within the period prescribed, candidate shall not thereafter sit or vote in the National Assembly until such return has been rendered. “A candidate who fails to comply with the provisions shall be guilty of an illegal practice unless such failure has been excused by a condoning order,” the act read in section 87.4.
Already legislators are busy trying to balance their books before submitting to the returning officer. Molepolole North MP Oarabile Regoeng has told this publication that they are busy at work not to miss the deadline but there are hiccups. “Some of us are still new and we were not conversant with some of these law or acts. For now I am trying to look for receipts and reconcile the numbers for submission. It is unfortunate we were told after elections it will be difficult but we will try to oblige by the act,” he said in an interview on Wednesday this week.
The electoral act says the election expenses of any candidate shall not exceed P50 000 and the MPs following the move by Minister Morwaeng to increase the expense to P2 million are ecstatic. “It has long been overdue for, it could have been long changed, nowadays no one can use that amount it is ridiculous and way too little to cover for the expense,” Regoeng added. Another legislator Ignatius Moswaane has also admitted that they will have to mind the clock as it is already late.
“We have been here for other parliamentary businesses that included swearing in of president and responding to the State of the Nation Address (SONA), so considering that we should have filed before the 26th, it is a tough order. You should listen to the MPs so that they don’t end up caught on the wrong side of the law for not submitting,” he pleaded. For now it is not yet clear as to whether all the legislators would have submitted their expense report then, but they are mindful of the repercussions awaiting them.
For the first time in the history of Botswana, the IEC will enforce the P50 000 campaign expenses ceiling on politicians, and those who exceed the threshold will be punished. Principal Elections Officer in Mogoditshane, Khumo Lebang last year cautioned the politicians that the statute has been in place but has never been implemented such that politicians were punished but this year the IEC will go that far.
“Candidates who win should know it in advance that the rule of law should be respected. Without submitted returns they will not debate in respective chambers – council and parliament,” he warned. Gaborone Bonnington South legislator Christian Greef has also lamented about the low money stipulated for the campaigns, but said he will surely submit before deadline.
“It is a law that has been in existent so I have been aware and I will ensure that I furnish the relevant authorities with the report at the right time. The only problem has been the P50, 000 threshold for the campaign but it has been increased which is a good thing because elections are now expensive.” Following the passing of the bill late last year, those who succeeded in the elections will now be expected to file expenditure return of P2million. Morwaeng when presenting the motion said election campaign is now a tedious and expensive process that needs a bigger budget.
Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.
According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reachingÂ WeekendPostÂ shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.
In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.
This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publicationâ€™s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, â€śas you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,â€ť she said.
She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.
Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.
Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.
Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.
â€śIt is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,â€ť he toldÂ WeekendPost, adding that â€śwhen a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolvedâ€ť.
Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.