Thursday, July 7, 2022

Attempt to gag Parliament fails

Some Members of Parliament fear that parliamentary committees that are appointed by parliament to carry investigations on parastatals  could prejudice the role of organs that are currently in place.

This fear gripped some members of the ruling party before parliament agreed to appoint a commission of enquiry in January next year to establish factors that have led to the declining performance of beef industry and bankruptcy at BMC.

The sentiments were voiced before parliament adopted Kanye North MP Kentse Rammidi’s┬ámotion┬ácalling for a ┬ácommission of enquiry to establish factors that have led to the declining performance of both the livestock industry in general and BMC in particular and also perform a forensic audit on the operations of the BMC.

Parliament endorsed Rammidi’s motions and agreed to appoint the enquiry in the next parliamentary seating in January.

Rammidi asked parliament to appoint the enquiry, stating that the declining beef industry was affecting the individual citizens who are farmers.

He was concerned that many Batswana were likely to be affected by the declining beef industry and the collapse of the BMC. 

Meanwhile, Presidential Affairs Minister, Mokgweetsi Masisi, was forced this week to withdraw a statement in Parliament that was intended to nullify the report by the Parliamentary Committee enquiry into the Botswana Development Corporation.

Masisi  withdrew the statement after Gaborone Central MP, Dumelang Saleshando, stood to inform parliament that the minister was flouting parliamentary procedure by bringing a statement to nullify the BDC report.

The chairman of the Select Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry, Abraham Kesupile, stated in an interview that the Minister’s statement was clear interference by the executive in parliamentary ┬ábusiness.

He said that the Minister could have made a statement to the public rather than approaching Parliament with the intention of nullifying the report on the BDC’s Glass Manufacturing project. He indicated that the media, which was reporting on the report, was part of an institution in a democracy.

“They were reporting what transpired in the report and there is no need to interfere with what they are doing. This can also help us before we debate the report,” said Kesupile.┬á

On Friday some members of the ruling party also argued that issues of enquiry and investigations should be left to the executive, which is comprised of organs that are well equipped with resources to investigate corruption allegations among parastatals.

The Assistant Minister of Trade and Industry, Keletso Rakhudu, stated that there were organs, such as the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime and Directorate of Public Prosecution, which are placed better to carry out such duties instead of parliament.

Rakhudu was worried that the parliamentary committees that were appointed to investigate parastatals  could also contaminate investigations that are carried out by such organs. He said that the parliamentary committees investigations were not helpful because their findings could not be used to prosecute those found to have committed criminal activities.

Rakhudu said that the investigations should be left to the Executive, which he said has proper mechanism in place to deal with issues of corrupt in parastatals. 

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