Twelve months after the government made a commitment to improve on productivity and implementation of planned projects, patients still wait for long hours in hospital queues and public school classrooms are packed like slave ships.
Productivity was the buzz word during the current budget year as the government placed emphasis on “implementation” to pave way for an energetic completion of projects started during prior years. This spawned a national economic feel good mood as it was anticipated that increased spending within the economy would assist more, especially the citizen entrepreneurial businesses, to achieve economic success. It would also aid in increasing the recovery levels of various loan schemes introduced by government. With 2007 coming to an end, it is a fitting time to nominate our Cabinet heroes and villains of 2007. As is custom, we name the bad guys first. So, here are our…
Baledzi Gaolathe and Duncan Mlazie
The two ministers were the lightning rods of controversy in Parliament this year for throwing their weight about and being unproductive.
Earlier this year, Parliament declined to debate and approve the ministry’s budget. Because the no show duo played truant.
The dust had hardly settled on the controversy when Gaolathe was dragged from the comfort of his office to be publicly chastised by Deputy Speaker of Parliament Gladys Kokorwe for “poor productivity”, during the planned debate on a motion calling for citizen empowerment.
Member of Parliament for Palapye, Boyce Sebetela, had complained to the Speaker that it was not worthwhile debating the motion calling for a policy on citizen economic empowerment in the absence of Gaolathe and his assistant, Duncan Mlazie.
Sebetela called for an adjournment.
Both ministers had failed to come back to the House after the tea break.
Kokorwe concurred saying the motion was too important to be discussed in the absence of cabinet ministers under whose portfolio it fell.
As a result, parliament was adjourned for fifteen minutes as secretaries were ferried out to go and call the two cabinet ministers.
When Gaolathe arrived, Kokorwe was angry at him, reminding him that he should take productivity seriously.
“There is always talk of productivity but it does not seem to be reaching you,” said the visibly unimpressed Kokorwe.
Earlier, parliament had rejected the ministry’s budget.
The Member of Parliament for Shoshong moved without notice that the appropriation bill for the ministry be deferred until the Ministry of Finance had put its house in order.
He said as the overall coordinator of the government finances, the ministry was not exemplary.
Lefhoko was not happy with a statement made by assistant minister Mlazie to the effect that there existed a Privatization Master Plan.
He was also not amused by the announcement to the effect that there existed a regulatory framework for the implementation of the Public Private Partnerships.
The two had been devised and approved by cabinet at the exclusion of parliament.
Lefhoko also said he was not happy that the Ministry of Finance had re-prioritized certain projects without seeking the approval from parliament.
“How are we supposed to be carrying out our mandate on behalf of the nation under such circumstances? We do not even know who approved the PPP policy and the Privatization Master Plan. Where and when did this happen because it has never reached this house?” asked Lefhoko.
Moeng Pheto, Olifant Mfa
The duo spent more time fighting than carrying out development work assigned to them while they were Minister and Assistant Minister of Labour and Home affairs, earlier this year.
Figures emerging from the ministries’ budget proposals presented in Parliament earlier this year suggest that Pheto and Mfa were overwhelmed by the assignment to carry out development projects under the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs. By January 2007, a few weeks before the ministry was split into two and the two ministers reassigned new cabinet posts, they had only used 23 percent of the money they had requested for development projects during the 2006/2007 financial year.
The Ministry was later split into two and Pheto was made minister of the new ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, which was allocated P125 017 000 for development projects. At the end of this year, Pheto had only spent P10 420 351.00 or 8% of the money.
Explaining to Parliament, Pheto said “the expenditure for the projects is minimal because of capacity constraints, delays in acquisition of land and late completion of designs for some projects.”
Health Minister, Dr Sheila Tlou, also proved smaller than her assignment and only managed to spend about 30 percent of the money she had requested for developments during the 2006/2007 budget. Justifying her failure to use up the money she had requested, Tlou told Parliament that part of the money was to finance completion of the five hospitals currently under construction, namely Scottish Livingstone, Sekgoma Memorial, Mahalapye, Maun and Lobatse hospitals, and the construction of Serowe and Molepolole IHSs.
“The low expenditure pattern is largely attributable to slowed progress on site due to the liquidation of the mechanical/electrical subcontractor.”
The Minister of Education has not spent a thebe from the P12 million budget approved by parliament in the 2006/2007 budget for designs of community junior secondary schools in Maun, Gantsi, Kweneng West and Francistown. Nkate said it was “ regrettable that owing to implementation capacity constraints experienced by my ministry during the 2006/2007 financial year” the designs for the projects were not carried out, “ resulting in no expenditure against the P12 million approved by parliament in 2006/2007.”
Trade and Industry Minister, Neo Moroka, was among the best performing ministers. Moroka had used up to 60 percent of his development budget allocation by February 2007 and the figure had shot up to 80 percent by the end of the financial year in April.
As at 31st October 2007, the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration had spent a total of 836 327, 790.92 on development projects against a budget allocation of P1, 930,407,000. The expenditure represents 43 percent of the total budget.
Tibone was among the best performing ministers while at the Ministry of Minerals Energy and Water resources. According to the ministry’s records presented by the current minister, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, earlier this year, “the actual development expenditure as at the end of February 2007 was 79 percent of the total budget. By the end of the financial year the level of expenditure was expected to be 100 percent of the revised development budget.”
Tibone, who has inherited the troubled Ministry of Labour, which had a development performance of 19 percent, asked parliament to increase his development budget performance for 2007/2008.
Tibone asked for a bigger allocation compared to last year although the ministry was only able to spend 23 percent of its 2006/2007 allocation.
If we split the 2006/2007 budget allocation between the two new ministries (Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs and Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture) Tibone’s Ministry remains with a budget of P109 million or 56 percent of the total budget provision while Pheto’s Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture gets a budget of P87 million or 44 percent of the budget provision. Out of the total budget provision of P109 million, Tibone’s inherited ministry has spent only 19 percent of the money that was allocated to the ministry during 2006\2007.
Pheto, who had used slightly over 20 percent of his current ministry’s last financial year’s development budget allocation of P87 million, asked parliament to increase his development budget to P123 million.
Kedikilwe, who inherited the productive Ministry of Mineral Resources and Water Affairs, seems to have stepped up the ministry’s performance and is one of only four ministers who consistently show up in parliament to answer for the ministry. Kedikilwe, who is unhappy with the productivity of his cabinet colleagues, recently suggested in Parliament that MPs be subjected to primary schoolesque regulations where students are obliged to seek permission to go out.
“To arrest these MPs in the House, strong measures should be in place. Like primary pupils, MPs should be subjected to the maxim of “Please, Sir, may I go out,” said Kedikilwe.
Kedikilwe further called for a roll call where MPs wishing to be excused from the house would seek permission from the Speaker in advance in writing. This was after parliament was forced to adjourn because MPs who had turned up could not constitute a quorum.
Other ministers who are consistently in parliament are Peter Siele, Phandu Skelemani and Ramsden.
The Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism has made great strides in brokering peace between local tour operators and resident communities after their relationship had been poisoned by allegations of racism, exploitation and human rights abuse.
The country’s travel & tourism industry is expected to generate US$1,620 million of economic activity, according to the latest Tourism Satellite Accounting (TSA) report produced by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and commissioned by the Government of Botswana and the Botswana Tourism Board.
Over the next ten years, Botswana’s Travel & Tourism industry is expected to achieve an annualized real growth of 5 percent, exceeding the world average at 4.3 percent and the Sub- Saharan African average at 4.5 percent. According to the forecasts detailed in the report, Travel & Tourism already contributes over 10 percent of total employment and some 16 percent of non-mining GDP.
The report affirmed that the Botswana Government has set many examples in terms of how to run a country’s Travel & Tourism industry and how to preserve its environment, culture and heritage.
Mokaila says Travel & Tourism will be made a priority for the country’s economy, which can no longer depend on its mining industry.