Saturday, October 24, 2020

Gaolathe suffers double humiliation

This week, the Minister of Finance, Baledzi Gaolathe, found himself subjected to the worst form of public humiliation since ascending his post.
Early in the week, parliament declined to debate and approve his ministry?s budget.

Then he was dragged from the comfort of his office to be publicly chastised by Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Gladys Kokorwe, for ?poor productivity.?
This was after Member of Parliament for Palapye, Boyce Sebetela, 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 junior in the ministry, Duncan Mlazie.

Sebetela called for an adjournment.

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 with 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 in the week, parliament had rejected the ministry?s budget.
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 Privatisation 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 have 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-prioritised certain projects without seeking the approval from parliament.
?How are we supposed to carry out our mandate on behalf of the nation under such circumstances? We do not even know who approved the PPP policy and the Privatisation Master Plan. Where and when did this happen because it has never reached this house?? asked Lefhoko.
Minister Gaolathe?s attempts to sidestep Lefhoko?s concerns flopped as other backbenchers joined the fray, supporting Lefhoko?s assertions as valid.

Member for Gaborone North said it would be ?untidy? to approve the budget under such circumstances.
Sebetela said it should be known for posterity?s sake that parliament had exercised its oversight role.

?Nowadays, when we debate we do it for the archives so that no one at any point blames us for having kept silent on an important matter such as this,? said Sebetela.

It remains to be seen when and where the Ministry of Finance?s budget will be squeezed as, under the Parliament Standing Orders, the debates on Appropriation Bills can not go beyond the allocated time.

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