Members of Parliament yesterday agreed to institute an investigation into the affairs Statistic Botswana through a parliamentary committee following media reports on rampant corruption, nepotism and maladministration at the organization.
A motion brought forward by Member of Parliament for Goodhope-Mabule, James Mathokgwane was adopted albeit with amendment proposed by Guma Moyo of Tati East. In his initial motion brought before parliament for consideration, Mathokgwane had sought to request the Minister of Finance and Development Planning to institute a commission of inquiry to investigate the alleged maladministration, misappropriation of funds and bad corporate governance at Statistics Botswana.
Some ruling party MPs, among them Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi; Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Eric Molale; Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Slumber Tsogwane; Minister Lands and Housing, Prince Maele; and Assistant Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Phillip Makgalemele were against the moption. They were of the view that, parliament was not the appropriate entity to carry out the investigations but instead wanted the matter to be referred to the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).
However, Guma Moyo rescued the day when he stood up to support the motion and moved an amendment to the motion. He proposed that Parliament should mandate Parliamentary committee responsible for parastatals to carry out the investigations on Statistics Botswana.
Moyo contended that the arguments brought forward by fellow MPs who were against the motion that carrying out the investigation will be infringing on the mandate of the DCEC was improper since DCEC does not report to parliament but to the Office of the President.
“We cannot give DCEC an order to institute investigation on this matter because it does not report to us,” said Guma. “It is our role as parliament to provide oversight and we have the power to carry out our own investigation through one of the parliamentary committees.”
Guma said even if the matter is already before the DCEC, it does not deter parliament from conducting its own investigations since the two entities will be executing their mandates. He observed that it is possible that during the investigation experts from DCEC, Financial Intelligence and Auditor General could be called to help in the investigations. “We cannot shy away from our role of providing oversight,” he argued.
Opposition MPs expressed doubt on the capability of the DCEC to carry out the investigations since it has proved to be inefficient and sometimes taking a long time to conclude investigations even when the evidence is already available.
The mover of the motion, Mathokgwane revealed that the matter had long been brought before the attention of the DCEC and nothing has been done yet, therefore requesting parliament to conduct its own investigations. “This matter is of great public importance and this parliament as a watchdog should play its role,” said Mathokgwane.
Speaking in support of the motion, MP for Ghanzi North, Noah Salakae said it is important that for an entity such as Statistics Botswana which performs a crucial mandate to have integrity contending that parliament should be worried when they are allegations of maladministration at the organization.
The evenly supported debated was put to bed by a vote, following a declaration of division in the initially determination for adopting or rejecting the motion. The vote resulted in 20 MPs casting their support for the motion while 18 voted against the motion.
Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.
According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reachingÂ WeekendPostÂ shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.
In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.
This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publicationâ€™s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, â€śas you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,â€ť she said.
She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.
Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.
Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.
Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.
â€śIt is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,â€ť he toldÂ WeekendPost, adding that â€śwhen a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolvedâ€ť.
Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.