Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leader, Advocate Duma Boko has dismissed Government’s oversight and accountability model of appointment of senior Government officials by the head of state.
He said the secret code between the appointing authority and the appointed office bearers create room for abuse of office and non-accountability as no one knows the terms and conditions to which an officer has been appointed. Advocate Boko was speaking at the UDC’s public lecture on the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Bill, 2019 at Oasis Motel on Monday evening following his party’s rejection of the bill in parliament.
He said that as UDC they reject the bill because in its current form, the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) is the custodian of the disclosures yet the president makes his appointment on such “sweetheart terms and conditions” as only he the president deems fit.
Advocate Boko noted that the UDC rejects the bill and calls upon all citizens to reject it and demand to be taken seriously. He said Batswana have not been consulted on the bill but it is already in parliament being debated, adding that if not rejected it will be published. He said instead of institutionalising corruption, Government must be alive to the pressing need to institutionalise public participation as an integral part of oversight function.
He said his Government would take Batswana serious by making sure that government officials are people of integrity, are transparent and accountable as this strengthens oversight institutions. He stated that it is time oversight institutions are “freed from the shackles of the executive” and be made fully accountable to parliament. He further said as members of parliament, they must be resolute in asserting parliament’s oversight role to enhance democracy.
Boko noted that when institutions of governance are not well structured, no amount of money would save it. Reflecting on the institutional repertoire of the DCEC, the Leader of Opposition said the DCEC have failed miserably since its inception and therefore cannot be entrusted with the declaration of assets and liabilities bill. “ We are lumping more responsibilities on an institution that is already failing,” said Boko.
“The Director General is the pivotal person in the disclosure of assets when his appointment terms and conditions are secret. The president must first disclose the terms and conditions of such appointment and that is the missing link from the legislation,” he said. He further pointed out that the legislation as it is simply wants officials to declare without scrutiny to ascertain the disclosures as accurate, and the information remains secret between the Director General and the declarant. He said Government could not purport to have come out in the open when whoever will come across the information will be charged and imprisoned since the information is meant to be secret.
“Why do we declare and remove the information from the public eye, why is the declared information hidden under lock and key?” he asked rhetorically. He further reiterated that declaring for concealment is not any means to take the nation to where it wants to be. Boko said in applying the means-end calculus logic to the legislation, it is clear that the means with which the bill seeks to achieve the curbing of corruption and illicit enrichment by senior government officials and politicians will not yield the intended objective.
“Where is the scrutiny to ensure that the tendency for corruption will be eliminated, what do we use to detect corruption by those who have the power to engage in it?” he asked, emphasizing that the legislation should include some form of investigation so that unexplained and unexplainable wealth can be easily be identified and forfeited to the state. He emphasized that the secrecy to which Director Generals across all government oversight institutions are appointed has collapsed accountability and transparency, which the bill seeks to achieve.
High Commissioner of the Federal Government of Nigeria to Botswana, His Excellency Umar Zainab Salisu, has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to move swiftly and lobby Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote to invest in Botswana.
Speaking during a meeting with President Masisi at Office of President on Thursday Zainab Salisu said Dangote has expressed massive interest in setting up billion dollar industries in Botswana. “We have a lot of investors who wish to come and invest in Botswana , when we look at Botswana we don’t see Botswana itself , but we are lured by its geographic location , being in the centre of Southern Africa presents a good opportunity for strategic penetration into other markets of the region,” said Salisu.
As murder cases and violent incidents involving couples and or lovers continue to be recorded daily, Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow has called for more funding of non-governmental organizations and accelerated action from government to come up with laws that could inhibit would-be perpetrators of crimes related to Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Just after Dr Dow had deposited her views on this subject with this reporter, a young man in Molepolole opened fire on a married woman he was having an affair with; and ended her life instantly. While it is this heinous cases that get projected to the public space, the former minister argues that the secrecy culture is keeping other real GBV cases under wraps in many spaces in the country.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said there is GBV all the time in all kinds of places. “We have become accustomed to stories of rapes, marital rapes, defilement of children, beatings and psychological violence and even killings,” she said.
Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, Dow is worried that there is absolutely no social punishment for perpetrators; they will continue to have the same friends, jobs, wives, homes, as before. Yet another factor, she said, is that there is little or no “justice” for victims of GBV.
The renowned activist said justice for GBV victims is not just the jailing of the perpetrator. “Justice for victims means an agile, victim-friendly, accessible (time, money and procedures) and restorative justice system.”
Asked what could be leading to a spike in Gender Based Violence cases or incidents, she observed that there is no one factor to which this spike can be attributed. “The most obvious factor is stress as a result of economic distress and or poverty. Poverty makes one vulnerable and open to compromises that they would otherwise not make. For perpetrators with anger management issues, economic stress leads to lashing out to those closest to them. Another factor is the disintegration of families and family values,” she opined.
According to Dow, no government anywhere in the world is doing enough, period. “We know the places and spaces where women and girls are unsafe. We know the challenges they face in their attempts to exit those spaces and places.” The former Judge of the High Court said GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in the culture of silence.
Asked what could be done to arrest GBV cases, Dow said it is critical to involve and fund civil society organizations. She observed that much of the progress done in the area of women’s human rights was during the time when Botswana had strong and funded civil society organizations.
“The funding dried up when Botswana was declared a middle-income country but unfortunately external funding was not replaced by local funding,” she acknowledged.
Further Dow said relevant government institutions must be funded and strengthened.
“Thirdly, create a society in which it is not okay to humiliate, rape, beat or kill women. You create this by responding to GBV the same way we have responded to livestock theft. We need to create agile mechanisms that hear cases quickly and allow for the removal of suspected perpetrators from their homes, work places, boards, committees, etc.”
The former Minister said the much anticipated Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Gender Based Violence will have its work cut out for it. According to Dow, GBV is not just a justice issue, it’s not just a gender issue, but rather an issue that cuts across health, education, labour, economic, housing and politics. “As long as any one believes it is someone else’s problem, we will all have the problem,” she said.
In her view, Dow said every work, educational and other place must have a GBV Policy and/or Code of Conduct. “It is important that we acknowledge that the majority of men are law-abiding. The problem is their silence, in the face of injustice,” she observed.
The State has chosen to ignore intents by kingpins in the P100 billion scandal to sue for a combined P85 million as tables turn against the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the matter.
Key players in the matter; the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Bank of Botswana (BoB) have eroded the prospects of success following the duo’s institutions’ appearance before parliamentary committees recently.