Member of Parliament for Serowe North, Kgotla Autlwetse
Parliament has approved a total amount of P2.4 billion request for supplementary funding by government and government departments amid strong dissatisfaction from opposition MPs, to be financed through General Revenue balance and Development Fund revenues.
The Finance and Estimates Committee chaired by Member of Parliament for Serowe North, Kgotla Autlwetse approved P1, 104,713,370 recurrent supplementary budget and P 1, 381, 060, 038 for development fund supplementary budget requested by government Ministries. Opposition MPs contend that approving such request without prudent consideration through a framework and scoring system in place is grossly irresponsible.
The role of Finance and Estimates Committee is to interrogate and analyze the supplementary budget request and make recommendations to parliament. However, opposition is aggrieved by the manner in which the request was approved which rendered weak, parliament’s ability to play an oversight role.
Ndaba Gaolathe, who is a member of the committee, submitted in a fierce debate in parliament that no country in the world could appropriate such amount of money without careful considerations. “Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has its role as part of the executive, and parliament has to play its role as the legislature by providing oversight,” Gaolathe said.
Gaolathe is of the view that the Budget and Estimates Committee must have its own framework and scoring points to satisfy itself on whether the money requested are worth it or not.
The opposition MPs who are members of the Finance and Estimates Committee, Tawana Moremi, Shawn Nthaile and Ndaba Gaolathe submitted a proposal on the framework of analysis of supplementary funding of Government ministries, and its departments.
The framework identifies five key criteria, considered to be pertinent in any national supplementary budgeting process. This categories are; Category unforeseen, Category high systematic risk, Category cost-benefit, Category sustainability and Category Management of Risk.
Opposition argue that supplementary funding should only be 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.
The proposal points out that the framework does not necessarily mean it could be used to deny ministries the money which they requested but assists in informing parliament under what circumstances did each ministry get approval for its request.
“For instance a score of 20% does not necessarily mean the Ministry deserves exactly 20% of the funding request but strongly suggest that the case for granting that money is weak, and should not attract a positive response in general because then in the long term fiscal approach of the country would be violated in the long term,” reads the report.
The total of supplementary funding required for recurrent expenditure is in the total of P1 104 713 370 allocated across eight ministries: State President (49.6 million), Labour and Home Affairs (P10.5 million), Education and Skills Development (P536.3 million), Local Government (P71.1million), Foreign Affairs (P1million), Environment, Wildlife and Tourism (P2 million), Transport and Communication (P43.3 million) and Defence, Justice and Security (390.8 million).
The total supplementary funding required for capital expenditure is P1 381 060 038 million divided among Agriculture (P497 million), Education and Skills Development (P396.1 million), Environment, Wildlife and Tourism (P46 million) and Defence, Justice and Security (P442 million).
A frame work and scoring system proposal reveals that in their analysis, ministries and government department scored the following points; Agriculture (51%), BDF (52%), DIS (33%), Education and Skills Development (66%), Environment, Wildlife and Tourism (39%), Home Affairs (50%) and, Transport and Communications (66%).
In essence the proposal reveals that Ministries like Education and Skills Development and, Transport and Communications had stronger case for seeking supplementary funding while ministries like Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, DIS department have weak points for seeking supplementary funding.
The proposal says it is not clear why Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) should constitute a supplementary request since the reasons for the quantum required for service level agreements are not clear. Their recommendation was that this should be assessed at the level of the regular budget process as it does not meet any of the requirements for supplementary funding.
The proposal also note that a ministry like of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, should only be given 40% of the requested budget i.e P15.2 million because there is no reason why the ministry should commit to build a rhino protection capability of such magnitude overnight, while it can be phased and also could be planned for through the normal Government budgeting process. The proposal also recommend the same for Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs by approving 0nly 50% of the request while the remaining is routes through the normal government budgeting process.
The proposal grants Ministry of Education and Skill Development the total amount of money requested by request that the money be approved on condition that the ministry submit a risk management plan, a major part of which should be how the ministry intends to address the ‘planning risk’ that permeates its functioning.
Opposition members of the committee are the view that by granting 100 percent of the supplementary requests by ministries, the Finance Estimates parliamentary has erred, and this will create not only a precedent but a culture that will compromise Botswana government’s system of sustainable budgeting.
Ministry of State President- P50 million
Office of the President – (P12 ,3 million)
Subsistence cost on travel
Operational cost of two new offices
Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime – (P7 587)
Augment Basic Salary Allowances
Directorate of Intelligence and Security (P28.5 million)
Service Level Agreement for Computer Systems Maintenance
Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs – P11 million
Cater for fixed contract which maintains the system for Passport and Border Control
Ministry of Education and Skills Development- P500 million
Shortfall in salaries and allowances
Cater for increase in sponsored students
Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development – P71 million
Destitute Allowances, World War Veterans and Old Age Pension
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation – P1 million
Replace amounted advanced for humanitarian situation in Sierra Leon, Liberia and Guinea for Ebola epidemic
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.