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PSP misleads PAC on Auditor General

Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi has this week misled Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament on the contentious appointment of the Auditor General Pulane Letebele on contract basis thereby flouting the constitution.

The PAC was concerned that the terms of employment of the Auditor General was a departure on the spirit of the constitution of Botswana in particular section 114 which secures the tenure of the office bearer until 60 years.
The section (114 (1) of the constitution) states: subject to the provisions of this section, a person holding the office of Auditor-General shall vacate his office when he attains the age of 60 years or such other age as may be prescribed by Parliament.

On part (2) of the same section it specifically states that a person holding the office of Auditor-General may be removed from office only for inability to perform the functions of his office (whether arising from infirmity of body or mind or any other cause) or for misbehaviour and shall not be so removed except in accordance with the provisions of this section.

According to the parliamentary committee, the appointment on contract basis is partly blamed for lack of total independence that hinders on the execution of the government auditing mandate. The move has seen the office (Auditor General) failing to audit the notorious Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) for 10 years since the establishment of the organ.

Appearing first was PSP who was adamant to the committee that Letebele opted a contract every five years as opposed to being on permanent and pensionable. She is on a fixed five-year contract terms. It remains a choice of an individual. She was offered the contract. Again this is a contract of employment that the incumbent Auditor General preferred. She said yes she wants the five-year term and before it elapses then she can apply for renewal. She opted for it, Magosi pointed out to the Committee.

He then added: I still dont know how this affects her independence if she was offered two options and she chose this particular contract based one. However according to the letter of appointment of the Auditor General signed by PSP Magosi, he stated against the surprise of the committee members that: the government may terminate this contract in accordance with section 26(2) of the Public Service Act by giving you 3 calendar months notice or paying you 3 months salary in advance.

The PSP however admitted later that what is written in the letter is a blunder on their (or the governments part). Its a mistake. Its a standard letter of employment in the Public Service. It should not apply to the Auditor General as they are employed by specifically the constitution.

Few minutes later after the departure of Magosi, PAC members were shocked to hear the Auditor General rubbishing the submissions made by the PSP, falling short of calling them lies, when appearing before the oversight parliamentary committee on the same day. On whether she was given an option to choose between contract and, permanent and pensionable, Letebele insisted the contract based offer was imposed.

I was offered a contract. When I got the contract I didnt feel I had a choice. So, the answer is no, I was not asked. I was never given an option or offered to be employed on contract basis rather than permanent and pensionable until 60 years as the law stipulates, she stressed.

She also highlighted that therefore she feels the appointment letter is not lawful as it is not according to the constitution. I knew what the letter was saying and what the constitution stipulates, they are in contrast. She continued: there is no how one can be happy with the contract written in the manner that it can be terminated, while conceding that the 3 months threat of termination, indeed can affect my independence.

She said this in cognizant of the fact that the Office of the Auditor General is the external auditor of the Government of Botswana. It is mandated by the Constitution of Botswana under Section 124, Public Audit Act and the Local Authorities and Township Act to audit public accounts of ministries, local authorities and selected parastatals. Section 124 (5) states that in the exercise of his functions the Auditor-General shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.

The appointment of the Auditor General, as is presumed to be totally independent from government, was a contentious issue that saw the PAC subpoena PSP Magosi to appear before the committee although it was not on schedule.
The Office of the President and Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) appeared at different times for different issues.

The Public Accounts Committee is one of 16 Committees of Parliament charged with overseeing the activities of the Executive. PAC is specifically responsible for overseeing government expenditure through calling ministries and parastatals to appear and account in accordance with Section 95(3) of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly of Botswana.

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.

 

 

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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.

 

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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.

 

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