Ministry of Transport and Communications top officials this week came under fire after having failed to furnish the parliamentary committee on Works, Transport and Communications with information pertaining to the ministry’s ongoing projects.
The projects worth over P2.5 billion include the Kazungula Bridge, Mohembo Brige, Charleshill- Ncojane Road and the dual-carriage Gaborone-Boatle interjection road. The seemingly ill-prepared team, led by Deputy Permanent Secretaries Ephraim Baleseng and Orapeleng Mosigi responsible for Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Transport respectively were eventually dismissed, and told to go and prepare for a second appearance before the committee.
The officials were expected to furnish the committee with information relating to ongoing projects with regard to; value of ongoing projects, contractors undertaking them, completion date, progress, as well as cost overruns. The duo failed to provide such information in most of the projects citing ‘lack of preparedness’ as their excuse. They further blamed the committee of informing them late about their scheduled appearance.
The duo was delegated by the substantive accounting officer Kabelo Ebineng, who could not make it as he was said to be held up due to undisclosed commitments. Ebineng, through his deputies requested for a re-scheduling, something that was received with mixed feelings from the committee members.The committee, chaired by Ramotswa legislator Samuel Rantuana was not impressed by the submission. The most resolute committee member was Ghanzi North legislator, Noah Salakae who was of the view that the duo should be dismissed from their responsibilities.
“I am wondering if indeed we have hired the right people. This is basic information in your ministry that you should know, otherwise you are not the right people,” he said. “Can we trust you with the responsibility of leading this ministry?” he asked rhetorically. “You are clueless about what is going on in your ministry.” Salakae, was against the decision to send the officials back in order to go and prepare for a second appearance as he contended that doing so would be neglecting his oversight duties as a legislator.
“One of my duties as a legislator is to ensure that we have the right people in positions of responsibility. I have nothing against you, I do not hate you, but I do not think you are the right people,” he said. Dr Phenyo Butale, a committee member who is also MP for Gaborone Central said failure by the two deputy permanent secretaries to furnish the committee with basic information, which they should ordinarily have easy access to showed negligence. “If you do not have this information who else should know?” he asked, “Do you really monitor these projects?”
Dr Butale said the information they were trying to source out from the accounting officers was and basic not technical. “Even your junior officers should know this,” he stated. Ronald Shamukuni, legislator for Chobe also expressed his disappointment hinting that the responses from the accounting officers was clear indication that ministry executives never hold strategic meetings to brief each other on the projects under the ministry.
Shamukuni said it was evident the officials were not working as a team, hence their being unable to provide information pertaining to projects in their ministry in the absence of the permanent secretary, who is the substantive accounting officer. Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Reggie Reatile and legislator for Boteti East Sethomo Lelatisitswe were of the view that the officials be dismissed to go and prepare for an appearance to be scheduled by the committee. “I have been trying to listen to the accounting officers, and had prepared several questions for them but based on their presentation, it’s clear nothing is going to come out. I suggest they go back to prepare themselves,” he stated.
Lelatisitswe said to give the committee the respect it deserves the permanent secretary, should ensure that he personally appears before the committee at the next meeting. He said the excuse of being held up was not good enough as far as oversight over billions of public funds is concerned. “In the past, in other committees ministers were forced to cancel their trips to appear before parliamentary committees,” he said. “He must cancel whatever he is doing when he is summoned to appear before this committee because he is the accounting officer. We are talking about billions of public funds not thousands and we should be serious with it.”
The outgoing President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, shares his thoughts with us as he leaves the Bench at the end of this year.
WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?
Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.
Botswana’s civil society is one of the non-state actors that could save the country’s democracy from sliding into regression, a Germany based think tank has revealed. This is according to a discussion paper by researchers at the German Development Institute who analysed the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes In Botswana.
In the paper titled “E-government and democracy in Botswana: Observational and experimental evidence on the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes,” the researchers offer a strongly worded commentary on Botswana’s ‘flawed democracy.’ The authors noted that with Botswana’s Parliament structurally – and in practice – feeble, the potential for checks and balances on executive power rests with the judiciary.
Bangwato in Serowe — where Bamagwato Paramount Chief and former President Lt. Gen Ian Khama originates – disagree on whether they must send a delegation to dialogue with President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s family in Moshupa. Just last week, a meeting was called by the Regent of Bamagwato, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, at Serowe Kgotla to, among others, update the tribe on the whereabouts of their Kgosi (Khama).
Further, his state of health was also discussed, with Kgamane telling the attendees that all is well with Khama. The main reason for the meeting was to deliberate on the escalating tension between Khama and Masisi — a three-year bloodletting going unabated.