The government has once again failed to table the much anticipated law on the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities during the ongoing session of Parliament.
While over the years parliament has often rejected the much anticipated law which was tabled by opposition parties, in his maiden Presidential speech in April 2018, President Mokgweetsi Masisi promised the nation to bring-forth the law before the end of this year.
“I will do my utmost to continually grow confidence in and of governance through a combination of new legislation, ethical codes and demonstrable and efficacious behaviours. To this end, expect specific legislation on declaration of assets and liabilities soon”, Masisi said in April 2018.
Fast forward to September 2018, at the National Business Conference organised by Business Botswana, Masisi again made it known about his intentions to put his signature on the new law. He put a November ÔÇô December 2018 period as the one for the discussion of the new law by Members of Parliament.
Masisi went on to tell the attendants at the NBC that the move will enhance transparency and accountability and therefore enhance investor confidence.
However this week, it emerged in Parliament that the new law will not make it ÔÇô atleast during the current session of Parliament as promised by Masisi.
Without directly announcing the delay, the minister at the Office of the President ÔÇô Nonofo Molefhi made it known to the legislatures that the law will now only be brought to the house of laws in 2019.
“…..next year sitting I will be tabling a Bill over the declaration of Assets and Liabilities so that those with keen interest will have their questions and suspicions answered”, Molefi said in Parliament this week.
Molefi’s sentiments followed a series of questions from the opposition Members of Parliament relating to Masisi’s business deals. In one of the questions, Gaborone North MP Haskins Nkayigwa enquired whether Masisi has shares at the troubled local retailer Choppies Enterprises.
Nkayigwa, together with Selebi Phikwe West Mp Dithapelo Keorapetse gave Parliament an impression that they are almost certain that Masisi has strong links Choppies Enterprises.
Despite not producing any evidence, the MPs maintained that the relationship between Masisi and the troubled retailer is either directly or indirectly.
“If he has not registered his shares over his relatives with Choppies where did he obtain the P8 million to sponsor the Dubai camp for his party’s elective congress. Worse still where did he obtain the money to clear his whopping loans?”, Nkayigwa asked.
In his response, Molefi said, “Some of these questions are personal and as such beyond my jurisdiction as a Minister. Private matters should not be directed to me as I have no authority over them,”.
Molefi further rubbished claims that Masisi has shares at Choppies. “If anyone is interested they can check with the Registrar of Companies.”
The response however did not go down well with Keorapetse who said that he has on several times approached the Registrar of Companies on similar checks and verifications following the same rhetoric by Ministers only to hit a snag.
“If the Registrar of Companies will not provide us with answers insisting they are not allowed to do so under whose authority are they representing,” Keorapetse asked on a follow up question to which the Minister maintained “I was not aware” of the situation.
“The Honourable Member is therefore advised to approach and seek confirmation with the relevant Ministry of Trade,” Molefhi said, underscoring his neutrality over the issue neither “withholding any information confidential or secretive” with his response.
Besides stating the value of the shares and how they were acquired, Molefhi was asked to explain which other companies the President has business dealings with.