Abraham Kesupile, a senior Member of Parliament for the opposition, Umbrella for Democratic Change has been roped in as the new chairman of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee.
Kesupile replaces former Lobatse legislature Nehemiah Modubule who lost his constituency to junior Trade Minister Sadique Kebonang during last year’s general elections.
Other members of the committee entail youthful MP for Selebi Phikwe West Dithapelo Keorapetse, Gaborone Bonnington South’s Ndaba Gaolatlhe, Kosta Markus of Maun East, Nata-Gweta’s Paulson Majaga, Guma Moyo of Tati East, Tati West’s Biggie Butale, and the controversial Ignatius Moswaane of Francistown West.
Kesupile’s appointment follows a stand-off between the ruling party and the Opposition in Parliament over a number of Parliamentary committees, including inter-Parliamentary committees. The opposition MP had at the beginning of the 11th Parliament boycotted and suspended participation in Parliamentary committees citing foul-play on the side of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party.
Commenting on the then boycott, Keorapetse said, “The boycott and suspension of participation in committees by the Opposition paid off, especially the non-participation in inter-Parliamentary committees. The ruling party got the message that they don’t have a right to do as they please simply because they are the governing party“.
The Public Accounts committee is one of 16 Committees of Parliament charged with overseeing the activities of the Executive. PAC is specifically responsible for overseeing government expenditure through calling ministries and parastatals to appear and account in accordance with Section 95(3) of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly of Botswana.
While giving an overview of PAC during a University of Botswana executive seminar on enhancing leadership in Gaborone a few years back, then an Assistant Auditor General PAC Philip Mutambarah said cross-party support would add strength and impact public financial accountability through the triangular arrangement involving the Executive, Parliament and the Auditor General.
“Policy-neutral mandate of PAC facilitates inter-party co-operation is another fundamental feature of PACs. It becomes critical that as a Committee, there must be unanimity in decision-making and reporting,” said Mutambarah. “A sustained approach between members of different political parties is necessary for the success of the committee. Where party-political divisions undermine the co-operative spirit, PAC effectiveness and even the entire audit processes can be jeopardised. This is viewed as an indication of the commitment to the non-partisan tradition underpinning the work of PAC and indicating the intention of Parliament to promote transparency through independent scrutiny.”
“Public Financial Accountability (PFA) ensures public funds expenditure are spent in the best possible and effective way verifying legality of financial statements achieving value for money in the utilisation of public resources. Apart from assuring allocation and expenditure according to appropriate accounting standards following legally mandated procedures, PFA guarantees resources are targeted for socially equitable purposes to meet the needs of all citizens, rather than benefitting a privileged few,” Mutambarah said.
As a member of the Commonwealth, Botswana adopted the institution of the PAC upon attaining independence in September 1966. The PAC is provided for as per standing Order 95 of the National Assembly. In this regard, the PAC will be meeting from Monday until mid June to examine government accounts.