By Thobo Motlhoka
If (like most people) you emerge from 2018 feeling like it has been an unpleasant year, count your blessings, because your government cannot even afford to buy rubber stamps. That is how bad 2018 has been.
Answering a question in parliament recently Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Dorcas Makgato drew fits of laughter from across the chamber when she said her ministry would have to wait for the next financial year in order to purchase new rubber stamps for the immigration department. Former Immigration minister Edwin Batshu had wanted to know if the Minister would consider replacing the current large date stamps used at border posts with smaller ones to save space on the passport pages. “I am so happy to report this, so thank you Honourable Batshu for asking this question. The ministry has already started to replace large date stamps used at border posts with smaller ones,” Makgato said, adding that to date had procured 412 smaller stamps for all borders which have been in use since September 2018. “However, since these new stamps are not enough, we still in some border posts use them together with the old ones. My intention is that, in the next financial year, we will no longer be using this…” she said before being interrupted by laughter and murmurs from across the floor. “Yes, stamps require financial… I am giving you feedback. I am telling you that this is under implementation. I do not have enough for all the people that stamp, in the next financial year, I will procure more. I think this is a good and welcoming development because it affects you directly, you would not be replacing your passports as frequently as we have been doing as a result of the size of the stamp.” At average of P200 per rubber stamp, the government would need approximately P80, 000 to procure an additional 400 stamps. That is, evidently, too astronomical a figure for the Government of Botswana in 2018. Meanwhile, the P250, 000,000 National Petroleum Fund (NPF) corruption case will resume in February 2019.