Opposition Members of Parliament are furious over President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama’s silence on the state of government enterprises and parastatals. They observe that in his State of the Nation Address, President Khama failed to paint the true picture of the country’s state of affairs.
Information gathered by this publication indicates that as of 2016 the Government is owed 1.6 billion pula by Parastatals and state owned enterprises which otherwise should be paying dividend and expanding government revenue if well managed.
According to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Kenneth Matambo, Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) owes government over half a billion pula followed by the electricity service provider, Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) at P425.4 million while state owned Development lender, National Development Bank (NDB) is failing to pay P300 million belonging to taxpayers; in addition, Botswana Post and Botswana Savings Bank account for over P240 million owed to Government.
Matambo further revealed that the most indebted State Owned enterprise, BMC is actually failing to service its loan. These loans were given out of the Public Debt Service Fund and each loan has a repayment schedule which is used to service such loans.
In his address, President Khama announced the formation of a number of parastatals confirming the setting up of Special Economic Zones Authority & Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority.
“The Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority, which should become operational the coming financial year, has been established to facilitate expansion and diversification in the energy sector,” he said.
Policy Specialist, Lawrence Ookeditse on the contrary dismisses the formation of new parastatals as stretching government coffers. “We cannot be exited over formation of new parastatals and these regulatory bodies, while those already existing are failing to fulfill their establishment mandate,” he observed.
OPPOSITION IS NOT IMPRESSED
Leader of Opposition in Parliament and President of the UDC, Duma Boko observes that Khama’s control of economy and upholding of good corporate governance is one of his worst failure.
When responding to SONA on Wednesday, Boko indicated that:
“Khama’s administration is reluctant or unwilling to set any targets for itself. To date no one knows how many jobs the Administration hopes to catalyze each year during the 11th Development Plan period; no one knows how many engineers, artisans or technicians the Administration hopes to churn out; how many professionals, business people and other experts our Immigration system will grant residence to assist our economy to grow.
No one wants to commit to just how much and by what order of magnitude to diversify our economy as well as our export base. Such is the tragedy of the Khama Administration’s planning, coordination and governing posture. It is simply just muddling through!”
Opposition legislators also stressed that President Khama should attend Parliament after delivering the State of the Nation Address to hear and appreciate MPs’ responses and deliberations and further account to the Nation.
Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse, who is also BCP spokesperson, observes that Khama just passes over fundamental issues and stresses over lame issues of 18 000 temporary jobs by ESP.
“The reality on the ground is that state owned businesses are retrenching and closing shop, people are losing jobs, but the President fails to acknowledge that as the torch bearer person,” he said.
According to Keorapetse the purchasing power of an average Motswana has been eroded over the years because of rising prices of commodities in the market. “SONA did not address these bread and butter issues concerning the economic welfare of our people,”said Keorapetse.
Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for Gaborone Central, Dr Phenyo Butale who is also UDC parliamentary caucus spokesperson argues that President Khama is completely silent on poor governance at Parastatals and corruption in state owned enterprises. According to Butale the sudden selling of public asserts without procedural processes raises eyebrows.
‘’This looting of taxpayer‘s properties and rushed privatization of the national economy is of great concern, it resembles the deeds of people in a rush to steal and crush the economy because they realize their time is up’’ notes the Gaborone Central Legislator citing the recent decision to dispose off part of Morupule power station .
“Khama further fails to acknowledge the obvious fact that Botswana‘s education is under threat, University of Botswana, the highest institution of learning in the land is in serious debt and the President goes silent on that and talks about target 20 000, an initiative that enriches fly by night private institutions that are owned by few political elites,” said Butale.
“The time has come for the President to sit in parliament and listen to MPs’ responses to SONA and field questions from MPs,” stated Keorapetse in an interview with Weekendpost this week.
The youthful and outspoken MP argues that the President cannot just deliver the speech and run away, citing that other new entrants to democracy like South Africa have presidents sitting in parliament to account to MPs and be subjected to responses on SONA.
MP Butale shared the same sentiments: “We have a president who doesn’t want to be put to scrutiny and account, he delivers a huge speech that is defeated by the reality on the ground and then runs away.”
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.