Member of Parliament for Tati East and a long serving member of the Public Accounts Committee has resigned his position in the committee in protest.
The Public Accounts Committee is by far the most powerful Committee of Parliament.
Every year, the Committee calls Permanent Secretaries and other Accounting Officers before itself to grill them on how their Ministries and Departments have spent the money allocated them by Parliament.
Samson Guma Moyo says the Selections Committee is treating MPs like children, and he cannot stand it.
In an interview with Sunday Standard, Moyo, who is one of the few economically literate Members of Parliament, said the behaviour of the Parliamentary Select Committee to dethrone Ronald Ridge, who had succeeded Ponatshego Kedikilwe, was unacceptable.
Ridge had been the Chair of the PAC for less than a year when the Selection Committee led by the Speaker of Parliament, Patrick Balopi, and the Leader of the House, Mompati Merafhe, decided to replace Ridge with Isaac Mabiletsa from the opposition Botswana National Front.
Moyo says Ridge has been slighted because he was not given time to settle.
“I doubt, with the way things are going, if the senior public servants who appear before the Public Accounts Committee as accounting officers will take us seriously,” said the clearly annoyed Moyo.
He said the Selection Committee wanted to treat MPs like little children “and I cannot be the one to be treated like that,” said Moyo who has played a leading role during the tenure of a PAC led by Kedikilwe.
He said the PAC had long wanted to be allowed to elect its own Chairman but was denied that opportunity by the Selections Committee.
He said what annoyed him is that the issue was discussed at the All Party Caucus where the Selections Committee was implored to reconsider their decision to drop Ridge.
Ridge has also since resigned from the PAC.
“Ridge was replaced without consultation. We are not school children who rely on teachers to have prefects chosen for them,” said Moyo.
He said his worry is that the decision taken against Ridge was like a motion of no confidence on the Maun legislator.
“And yet the only people who can pass a motion of no confidence on the Chairman are the PAC members themselves and not anybody else.”
This, he said, is because nobody outside the Committee would know what is happening inside.
He said what is happening is that the PAC has become a mockery “because they have had three chairpersons in three years.”
He said by its very nature, the PAC is a technical Committee which needs not only continuity but also enough time to allow people to settle and find their feet.
Those luxuries have not been allowed Ronald Ridge.
Moyo said, for him, it’s a question of principle and he would not compromise.
He has already written to the Speaker who in turn has accepted his resignation.
“I doubt civil servants will take us seriously. Now they think we are clowns,” said Moyo.
Moyo is one of the few Members of Parliament who, through and through, has been able to effectively point out the flaws in the budgeting systems of the Ministry of Finance.
“I sincerely think it was unfair to remove Ridge without giving him a chance to settle and prove himself. For me, I think it was a deliberate slap on the face on Ridge who I think was doing an excellent job,” said Moyo.
“The Selections committee seems to think we work for parliament. We are independent and we have not come here to take instructions from anybody. We cannot have people dictating to us. We have to debate issues. As for me, nobody is going to toss around with me. They can do that to others. Not me,” said Moyo.
It is not the first time the Selections Committee removed the Chairman of the PAC without reasons.
In the past, they removed Kedikilwe, replacing him with Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri, but all PAC members threatened to resign from the Committee if he was not reinstated.
In the end, Kedikilwe was reinstated.