Saturday, September 26, 2020

DIS P50 million border control budget raises eyebrows

The Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS) is to divert P50 000 000,00 from a budget intended to refurbish the Orapa House to fortify security at the country’s ports of entry.

While it is not explicitly from the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration (MoPAGPA) why there is an urgent need for such a huge amount, information passed to The Telegraph points to a pattern calculated to create ambiguity  to confuse the tax payer including legislators and the elements in the media.

This manifests in the form of two differently worded documents, one relates  to the figure as if it is a one off discharge, whereas the other elaborates: “The required annual provision of fifty million pula (P50 000 000,00) will be wholly offset by reducing the budget for MoPAGPA infrastructure project by fifty million pula to P10,300,000.”

Again it is submitted that, “the funds will be used for the acquisition of hardware and software to expedite the processing of visa application. The requested funds will be reallocated from other projects under the ministry.”

Further mention is made of the fact that MoPAGPA infrastructure being referred to; specifically the refurbishment of the Office of the President Facility (Orapa House) sub project will not fully utilize the allocated budget due to late procurement processes.

No specific figure is made out as representing the overall cost and duration of the contemplated project. The document which makes reference to a singular figure of fifty million pula is addressed to, “Mr. Speaker.”

To compound matters, there has always been an outcry that the absence of an independent oversight mechanism, especially under the direct ambit of parliament creates a state of lax in the conduct of affairs including in particular the unregulated manner in which projects are handled as well as the finances.

In fact there is a school of thought that contends that it is this manner of managing things that has resulted in the recent cases of public funds being stolen.

Recent discussions on the scope of the mandate of the Auditor General, and the case of the “missing” and “found”, 4 billion pula as well as the ubiquitous role of the DISS, are just some of the indicators of a democracy that is increasingly zooming into doom.

Major General Pius Mokgware, Member of Parliament for Mmankgodi/Gabane, has lamented in an interview saying: “It is questionable how a project of this magnitude can be given to an institution which is not and has never been audited. This makes the motives of those who sanction these kinds of financials highly suspect.”

The capacity of the DIS to implement such a multi-million pula project is viewed as wanting, especially taken against the background of its allegedly pas of acting as a conduit of ulterior monies and schemes.

Considering that in the same document which was dated December, a maiden request was made for a supplementary 19 million pula for overtime for immigration officials, the Telegraph has been able to establish on authority that  there is still shortage of staff at the country’s thirty four (34) ports of entry.

“Immigration officials accumulate overtime and it is a challenge to grant them time off mainly due to manpower constraints,” read part of the document. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, highlighted in a document titled, Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure from the Consolidated and Development Funds, that MoPAGPA, proposes a new initiative for the purpose of securing and safe guarding the integrity of our Visa application, Immigration and National Identification platforms.

“Specifically, the funds will be used for the development of the necessary infrastructure which includes acquisition of the requisite hardware and software. The work will cover the design, development and integration of security systems to enhance cyber security on government Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure as well as other security upgrades,” read part of the document.

Speaking in Parliament on the issue of accountability and the integrity of the Auditor General (AG) several members of Parliament had asked for consideration to widen the scope of the AG’s mandate to extend to mega projects for state and public interest.

Be that as it may, there is a general feeling that going by the sentiments or views expressed by the head of the DIS, Peter Magosi in an interview with this paper, said there is cause for a glimmer of hope, whilst Members of Parliament and Civil Society remain on leave.

Magosi has indicated that his organization was in the process of reviewing the Act that founded it, with the ultimate aim of recommending for a Parliament appointed, independent, ethical and effect oversight Tribunal.

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