President Lt Gen Ian Khama is uncompromising on his stance on the show of hands – instead of secret ballot – for Parliament to endorse his next Vice President and elect the Speaker of the National Assembly.
Pundits and party insiders are of the view that the President has little doubt his Vice President choice will go through, but his main concern is over the choice of Speaker of the National Assembly. There is a case for Margaret Nasha and another for Gladys Kokorwe, who have both declared interest in the post.
The current impasse relating to the endorsement of the Vice President as well as election of Speaker and Deputy Speaker has got people wondering whether it has anything to do with succession or not.
Parliament was on Thursday this week informed that the election of the country’s next Vice President and the Speaker will only be held after the High Court has finalised the matter.
The Attorney General, Athalia Molokomme has served all parties in Parliament, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) with court papers.
Molokomme is challenging the parliamentary Standing Orders which she insists are unconstitutional and do not allow for such elections to be conducted through a secret ballot. She wants it done by show of hands.
To strengthen their case, President Khama has roped in his private lawyers into the matter.
However, suggestions are that President Khama, who lost many of his former Cabinet Ministers and right-hand men in the just-ended general election, is trying to create favourable Standing Orders to his favour as he is allegedly unsure whether his newly elected MPs would support his nominees.
However, Thursday’s Cabinet appointments could also alter the picture, with a weakened Backbench; BDP MPs are likely to agree with all caucus decisions.
Information reaching this publication suggests that the President is trying to block the immediate former Speaker of the House (Dr Nasha) from retaining the position through the support of opposition members and some of the ruling party legislators.
The combined opposition, which holds 20 seats in Parliament against BDP’s 37, is planning to nominate Nasha as the Speaker at the expense of Khama’s favourite Gladys Kokorwe, the former Kweneng South East MP, who recently returned to Botswana after serving as the country’s ambassador to Zimbabwe.
“The President is trying to block Nasha from Parliament however the President’s other concern is that his MPs may refuse to endorse the Vice President of his choice. Whoever his choice is, it is obvious that a lot of the MPs would not be happy with it,” said one of the newly elected MPs.
But most BDP insiders are quick to admit that the Thursday Cabinet appointment may change the game altogether. Of the 16 or so BDP legislators who are not in Cabinet, it is difficult to pick one who could be a rebel. The most experienced backbenchers include Kagiso Molatlhegi and Samson Guma Moyo.
Therefore, President Khama’s decision to appoint Cabinet could help to get the compact 37 votes of BDP MPs to endorse his choices if the ballot is done by show of hand and not by secret ballot.
“The Attorney General drafted the Standing Orders, which she is challenging before court today. When she drafted them, where was the Constitution? Why now? This shows that she is being used,” charged another MP.
MPs sworn-in on Thursday afternoon will be undergoing orientation in the coming week while the issue at hand returns to the courts on November 6.
MASIRE BLASTS AUTOMATIC SUCCESSION Meanwhile, former President Sir Ketumile Masire insists that Parliament is an independent body empowered to change its Standing Orders as and when the need arises. Masire gave the example with President of Botswana’s term of Office which he says is erroneous in that it leads to a situation where the Vice President automatically becomes President before taking a party to elections.
“I admit the blunder on our part. It has already been done, Mogae (Festus) set a precedent and served 10 years in office and so Khama has to,” he said.
The former President is of the view that President Khama could solve the problem by serving his full term, adding the other two years to ensure that the next Vice President takes his party through to the 2019 general election and only becomes President upon winning. Standing Orders are viewed as subsidiary dispensation that aids the operations of the National Assembly in accordance with the Botswana Constitution.
PRECEDENT – Khama, Merafhe, Balopi and Kedikilwe Despite an impression that has been created suggesting that towards the end of the 10th Parliament, the Standing Orders were amended to introduce a secret ballot for the election of Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the endorsement of the VP, it has emerged that this is not correct.
Records indicate that the clause on secret ballot for these elections was part of the Standing Orders. In 2004 former Tonota MP Patrick Balopi was elected Speaker and Kokorwe Deputy Speaker through secret balloting. President Khama himself was endorsed as VP by secret ballot and so were Lt Gen Mompati Merafhe in 2008 and Ponatshego Kedikilwe later.
STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE – Saleshando’s view According to a former member of the Standing Orders Committee, former Gaborone Central MP, Dumelang Saleshando, the Standing Orders were amended in 2014 to introduce a voting booth in Parliament to facilitate for the holding of a secret ballot.
Saleshando indicated that previously, MPs would complete their ballot papers to endorse the VP and elect both Speaker and Deputy from their seats.
“Those who have been to Parliament will know that the seating arrangement is not most conducive for the conduct of a secret ballot. The introduction of a voting booth, in our view, was necessary to allow for a truly secret ballot,” he said.
“It appears to me that the issue before the courts is as to whether there should ever have been provision for a secret ballot. Standing Orders are rules of Parliament meant to give guidance and order to the conduct of parliamentary business.
“They are crafted so as to facilitate the conduct of business in the House. The Constitution is the parent law and where it refers to the endorsement of the VP as well as election of Speaker, it does not state how that process should be carried out. It is normal for subsidiary legislation (the standing orders are subsidiary legislation) to add meat to the provisions of the Constitution or a parent law,” said Saleshando.
He went on: “The issue, as I understand it, seems to be that since the Constitution does not state that the ballot shall be secret, it should therefore be by show of hands. It is not being suggested that the Constitution directs that the voting be by show of hand. As I indicated above, voting has never been by show of hands in the last 10 years.”
The National Assembly recently passed the Financial Intelligence Bill, 2021 (Bill No. 34 of 2021) during an Emergency Parliament Meeting. The Bill was first published on 23rd December, 2021 by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Honourable Peggy Serame.
The Act aims to re-enact with amendments the Financial Intelligence Act; to continue the establishment of the Financial Intelligence Agency and to re-constitute the National Financial Intelligence Coordinating Committee as a high level committee; to provide for third parties to perform certain customer due diligence measures on behalf of specified parties; to enable the Financial Intelligence Agency to initiate an analysis of information based on information in its on possession or information received from other sources to establish a suspicious transaction, and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto. The Financial Intelligence Bill has eight parts with a total of 63 clauses.
Serame highlighted that these laws are drawn because they are in line with international agreements the country has signed upon. Although implementation of the laws passed in parliament is a still a challenge. She urged public institutions to introspect if there are grievances within the community and deal with them. Emphasising that the perceptions people have about public servants and institutions are often based on a certain form of truth.
By way of background; the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has 40 Recommendations which countries have to comply with in order to tackle money laundering, terrorist financing and the financing proliferation.
During 2017 assessment; Botswana was found to have serious strategic deficiencies in her anti money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism and proliferation framework. No recommendation was rated Compliant, 23 of the recommendations were non-compliant resulting in the country being grey listed by the FATF in 2018 and blacklisted by the European Union in 2020.
The country went right ahead into remedial actions towards being removed from the grey list, passing 25 pieces of legislation in 2018 and a further six in 2019. Resulting in the country being removed from the grey list in October 2021.
To address the deficiencies identified during assessments carried out by the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) and Financial Action Task Force (FATF). There was a proposal to overhaul the Financial Intelligence Act and consequential amendments to several other laws.
The amendments of these laws aim to strengthen the Anti-Money laundering, countering Financing of Terrorism and proliferation efforts in Botswana and will also put the country in a good position during the next Mutual Evaluation in 2024.
In her presentation’ Peggy Serame enunciated that; “the procedure at ESAAMLG is that after a country has amended its legislation, they are allowed to request for rerating of FATF Recommendations that are still rated Non-Compliant and partially compliant. “
Adding that “the request for re-rating has to be made at least six months in advance of the ESAAMLG Task Force Plenary meetings. This means for Botswana, the request for re-rating can only be considered during the September meeting of ESAAMLG. In its request for re-rating, the country has to submit all other information supporting the request for re-rating to the ESAAMLG Secretariat.
This supporting information refers to relevant laws, regulations or other AML/CFT/CFP measures that are in force and effect. It is crucial that the FI Bill and others are enacted expeditiously for the country to submit a request for re-rating in February 2022.”
Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse has expressed concern over the Financial Intelligence Bill stating that; “the discussion of this bill is relevant to what we are trying to do in prevention of financial and economic crimes, that is physical and revenue crimes. However; if virtual assets have value and can be digitally traded; it means that physical and revenue crimes can be committed using cryptocurrencies.
ESAAMLAG and FATF are very clear that money laundering and terrorist financing exist with the purview of virtual assets. What needs to happen is public education surrounding virtual assets and the risks that come with them. Research ought to be done on the implications surrounding virtual assets, this in turn will help guide in drawing laws and regulations. Without established regulation and oversight, the virtual assets space will become the wild west of the financial industry.”
The re-enactment of the Financial Intelligence Act has caused consequential amendments to 13 other pieces of legislation which have already caused an uproar in the country, these are; Companies Act, Trust Property Control Act, Counter Terrorism Act, Criminal procedure and Evidence Act, Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, Extradition Act, Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, Biological and Toxin Weapons (Prohibition) Act, Nuclear Weapons (Prohibition) Act, Precious and Semi-Precious Stones (Protection) Act and the Real estate Professionals Act.
Chief of Staff at the Office of the President, Lephimotswe Boyce Sebetela has addressed Councillors of Gaborone City Council (G.C.C) on the Reset Agenda, at their retreat in Palapye.
A number of resource persons facilitated on different topics of importance. The retreat is said to have been aimed at appreciating the role of Councillors in governance, leadership development, promoting team work and sharing better ways on how they could improve service delivery to their constituents.
The retreat comes at a time when Councillors country wide demands clarity on their roles and responsibilities to their electorates, Sebetlela emphasized the need for G.C.C Councillors, as other leaders to board-in the drive of reset agenda. Noting that, it is people-centric. It is said at the meeting Sebetela explained to councillors that Reset agenda, should be understood, as an action plan that seeks primarily, to ameliorate the status-quo in Botswana. Further imploring the councillors to link their priorities with those of the government.
Sebetlela whose key responsibility is to direct and oversee implementation of national priorities, in alignment with political pronouncements made by President Masisi, reportedly told Councillors that they are an important stakeholders in this reform. He further noted that, the rest agenda is nothing short of Batswana’s needs and desires. Therefore as leaders, they should be cognizant of the priorities set by their own government.
Other resource persons were from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and Botswana National Productivity Centre (BNPC).
For his part, Boseja Ward, Block 6 and Block 7 Councillor Khumo Sebereko applauded and revealed the significance of this retreat, noting that it was long overdue. “This is of utmost importance for community leaders, as we get time to imbibe knowledge at each other’s knee” he said. He further explained that they get to assess their own productivity versus efficiency on public service which really help them improve as public servants.
On the other hand, G.C.C Town Clerk, Lebuile Israel told Weekend Post that prior to the retreat, they had a special full council in Gaborone. The special full council was characterized by consultation of different Community Constituency Plans. “That was basically to identify real issues on the ground, which at Ministerial level culminates into National Key issues that guides the direction of money allotted to the Council for the coming financial year” he said. He explained that, this council ensures that their Community plans are in sync with Urban Development Plan 5 (UDP 5) and National Development Plan 12 (NDP 12).
The alignment of these Community plans with both UDP 5 and NDP 12 puts each constituency in a good position to be taken to form part of G.C.C Project Memorandum. He further explained that, projects proposed by Councillors sometimes get to be relegated to least critical projects by the order of importance or urgency. “Over the years there weren’t many projects, relegated into peripheral categories or rejected by the Council for not being in sync with either of UDP 5 or NDP 12”.
When closing Sebetlela said Botswana’s ability and potential to transform rests incumbent upon each citizen’s effort particularly those in leadership. Noting that, implementation of priorities put forth by the reset agenda requires collaborative effort.
The 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released by Transparency International has shown that corruption levels remain at a standstill worldwide while it is on the rise in Sub Saharan Africa.
The results at a glance; The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks of countries around the world, based on how corrupt their public sectors are perceived to be. The results are given on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. This year’s CPI paints a grim picture of the state of corruption worldwide.
According to the report; this year the global average remains unchanged for the tenth year in a row, at just 43 out of a possible 100 points. Despite multiple commitments, 131 countries have made no significant progress against corruption in the last decade. More than two-thirds of countries score below 50 indicating that they have serious corruption problems, while 27 countries are at their lowest score ever.
And despite some progress, nearly half of all countries have been stagnant on the CPI for almost a decade. These countries have failed to move the needle in any significant way to improve their score and combat public sector corruption.”
Western Europe and European Union are the highest scoring region with 66 points. The top countries are Denmark, Finland and New Zealand, each with a score of 88. Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany complete the top 10.
49 countries were assessed in the Sub Saharan African region. With an average score of 33, Sub Saharan Africa is the lowest performing region in the CPI, showing little improvement from previous years and underscoring a need for urgent action. The report puts forth the concern that the gains made by top scorers are overshadowed by the region’s poor performance. This reinforces the urgent need for African governments to implement existing anticorruption commitments if they are to alleviate the devastating effect of corruption on millions of citizens living in extreme poverty.
With a score of 66, Seychelles consistently earns top marks in the region. Botswana is also regarded as a top scorer in the region with a score of 60/100 and a domestic score 55/100. Bottom of the index are Somalia with a score of 12 and South Sudan coming in with 11.
“Although Botswana is regarded a top performer. It has hit a historic low in 2021, recording a significant 10 point decline from a score of 65 in 2012. The result corroborates the findings of Transparency International’s 2019 Global Corruption Barometer survey, which showed that most people in Botswana thought corruption had increased. Concerns over impunity such as in the case of the alleged looting of the National Petroleum Fund which implicated senior government officials-underscore the need to increase accountability for high-level corruption in the continent’s oldest” Revealed the report.
The research also shows that corruption is more pervasive in countries least equipped to handle the Covid-19 pandemic and other global crises. The global pandemic has been used in many countries as an excuse to curtail basic freedoms.
Local media in Botswana reported that the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) recorded 47 cases of corruption in relation to COVID-19 tendering processes. With 32 from the Gaborone region; 12 from Greater Francistown region and 3 in Maun region.
In regards to case backlog, the directorate had a backlog of 182 cases pending with the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) , this is in addition to cases that were still under investigation and corruption allegation reports that had been received. The corruption allegations included 69 COVID-19 reports which were received between April 2020 and May 2021. Out of the 69 cases, 27 were being investigated while most of the remaining cases were referred to the different ministries.
Generally, Bribery continues to impede access to basic services. In 2019, the Global corruption Barometer – Africa revealed that more than one out of four people or approximately 130 million citizens in 35 African countries surveyed paid a bribe to access public services like health care.
Unless these corruption challenges are addressed, many countries in sub Saharan Africa risk missing their sustainable development goal targets by 2030. Transparency International calls on governments to act on their anti-corruption and human rights commitments and for people across the globe to come together in demanding change.
Chief Executive Officer of Transparency International, highlighted that Daniel Eriksson; “In authoritarian context where control over government, business and the media rests with a few, social movements remain the last check on power. It is the power held by teachers, shopkeepers, students and ordinary people from all walks of life that will ultimately deliver accountability.”