Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and Enterprises, Samson Guma has said that lack of respect for rule of law and parliament threatens the country’s prudent fiscal policy.
Guma said as a legislator, he feels disrespected by ministries who have the impression that parliament will approve every financial request from government departments even when it is clear that careless financial decisions were made.
This comes in the wake of among others, a decision by Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Tshekedi Khama’s directive to BTO CEO, Brian Dithebe, to implement a new organisational structure which will cost government an additional P22 million in the current financial year. The minister has reportedly informed BTO that the shortfall in the BTO budget will be financed through a supplementary budget request.
“You do not implement a structure which you have not budgeted for without getting approval first,” Guma said this week.
Guma’s concerns corroborate concerns by members of the opposition that parliament has been rubber stamping supplementary budget requests for various ministries without making its own assessment on whether such spending is necessary or not.
It has become a norm recently that a large sum of money is appropriated outside the normal budgeting process mainly because of poor planning or unnecessary spending by a ministry.
In November 2014, at the first meeting of parliament, eyebrows were raised when a total of P2.4 billion was wholly approved by parliament despite questionable requests being brought forth by ministries before parliament.
Ndaba Gaolathe, who is a member of Finance and Estimates committee, argued in a fierce debate in parliament then, that no country in the world could appropriate such amount of money without careful considerations.
Gaolathe then submitted a proposal on the framework of analysis of supplementary funding of Government ministries, and its departments.
The frame work identified five key criteria, considered to be pertinent in any national supplementary budgeting process. This categories are; unforeseen, high systematic risk, cost-benefit, sustainability and Management of Risk.
Gaolathe contended that supplementary funding should only be for those expenses that meet the requirements as prescribed by the constitution or that were foreseen but not budget for due to planning lapse or sudden changes in government revenue out-turn.
Not only is the Tati East legislator worried by such lack of respect for the authority of parliament in making its own assessment, he also mentioned degeneration in respect for rule of law and disregard for the country’s public procurement system.
During the current committee sitting, it has been established that incidences for undermining public procurement laws and procedures are on the rise, with ministers and boards engaging on contracts with their preferred companies contrary to Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Board (PPADB) procedures.
The primary mandate of PPADB is to adjudicate and award tenders for central Government and other quasi- government institutions specified under the Act for the delivery of works, services and supplies related services.The PPADB mandate is also to ensure that projects are prudentially managed to ensure value for money in the procurement and disposal of assets.
However, few weeks ago, Minister Khama was forced to cancel a planned opening of an office in Dubai because it was not budgeted for, and a proper process relating to use of public money was not followed.
Guma’s committee was informed by Air Botswana Acting General Manager, Agnes Khunwane that a tender worth P81 million was awarded to a European company, a few days after the dismissal of the board. The tender was authorised by Neil Fitt, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The committee ruled that Fitt did not have the power to approve such an amount of money in the absence of the board.
The committee also heard this week that Minister Khama insisted that a company called ASUIA be directly appointed to provide what was initially agreed upon as insurance for tourists visiting the country. The company was to be entitled to 12 percent of the total collections, with the rest going to government.
However, the committee has been told that Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, throughNon-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFRA) has raised their own concerns with regards to the proposed idea, resulting with the proposal be amended to now make it a levy.
Under the new proposal, ASUIA will be entitled to one third (33.3 percent) of the total collection every month. This translate to about P2.5 million monthly and P30 million annually. The committee has questioned Khama’s insistence that ASUIA be given the tender even after the initial idea changed.
In a letter dated 8th February 2016, addressed to BTO CEO, Dithebe by Khama stated that: “In the absence of a quorate board to consider ASUIA proposal, you are accordingly instructed to implement the instruction, inclusive of directly appointing ASUIA as a service provider for inbound insurance under the terms and conditions stipulated in the existing contract, save for any reference to BTO Board approval.”
Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng together with Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi, this week refused to name and shame the worst performing Ministries and to disclose the best performing Ministries since beginning of 12th parliament including the main reasons for underperformance.
Of late there have been a litany of complaints from both ends of the aisle with cabinet members accused of providing parliament with unsatisfactory responses to the questions posed. In fact for some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers a meeting with the ministers and party leadership is overdue to address their complaints. Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP, Mephato Reatile is also not happy with ministers’ performance.
Bokamoso Private Hospital is battling a P10 million legal suit for a botched fibroids operation which resulted in a woman losing an entire womb and her prospects of bearing children left at zero.
The same suit has also befallen the Attorney General of Botswana who is representing the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their contributory negligence of having the unlawful removal of a patient, Goitsemang Magetse’s womb.
According to the court papers, Magetse says that sometimes in November 2019, she was diagnosed with fibroids at Marina Hospital where upon she was referred to Bokamoso Private Hospital to schedule an appointment for an operation to remove the fibroids, which she did.
Magetse continues that at the instance of one Dr Li Wang, the surgeon who performed the operation, and unknown to her, an operation to remove her whole womb was conducted instead. According to Magetse, it was only through a Marina Hospital regular check-up that she got to learn that her whole womb has been removed.
“At the while she was under the belief that only her fibroids have been removed. By doing so, the hospital has subjected itself to some serious delictual liability in that it performed a serious and life changing operation on patient who was under the belief that she was doing a completely different operation altogether. It thus came as a shock when our client learnt that her womb had been removed, without her consent,” said Magetse’s legal representatives, Kanjabanga and Associates in their summons.
The letter further says, “this is an infringement of our client‘s rights and this infringement has dire consequences on her to the extent that she can never bear children again”. ‘It is our instruction therefore, to claim as we hereby do, damages in the sum of BWP 10,000,000 (ten million Pula) for unlawful removal of client’s womb,” reads Kanjabanga Attorneys’ papers. The defendants are yet to respond to the plaintiff’s papers.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are tumors made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop in the uterus. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime — however, not everyone will develop symptoms or require treatment.
The most important characteristic of fibroids is that they’re almost always benign, or noncancerous. That said, some fibroids begin as cancer — but benign fibroids can’t become cancer. Cancerous fibroids are very rare. Because of this fact, it’s reasonable for women without symptoms to opt for observation rather than treatment.
Studies show that fibroids grow at different rates, even when a woman has more than one. They can range from the size of a pea to (occasionally) the size of a watermelon. Even if fibroids grow that large, we offer timely and effective treatment to provide relief.
The Alliance for Progressives (AP) President Ndaba Gaolathe has said that despite major accolades that Botswana continues to receive internationally with regard to the state of economy, the prospects for the future are imperilled.
Delivering his party Annual Policy Statement on Thursday, Gaolathe indicated that Botswana is in a state of do or die, and that the country’s economy is on a sick bed. With a major concern for poverty, Gaolathe pointed out that almost half of Botswana’s people are ravaged by or are about to sink into poverty. “Our young people have lost the fire to dream about what they could become,” he said.