Thursday, June 4, 2020

Masisi more talk less action on Asset Declaration Bill

BY THOBO MOTLHOKA

It has now taken over 20 years and three state presidents since former minister Joy Phumaphi first tabled a proposal for a bill on Declaration of Assets and Liabilities, and the bill still remains a pipe dream.

While President Mokgweetsi Masisi has used every opportunity to assure Batswana of his commitment to finally bringing the proposed Bill to life, there has been little (if anything) to suggest his words are anything but.

Speaking at Business Botswana’s High Level Consultative Council (HLCC) this past week Masisi again made reference to his “commitment” in insuring the Bill passes through parliament. 

He said Botswana will not succeed in attracting the desired Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), nor will it succeed to grow the economy in any meaningful way if corruption remains part of the country’s business culture, adding that his Government is determined to do all it takes to win the war against.

“The Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Bill will be tabled before Parliament during the winter session,” Masisi told the HLCC.

Now over a year since his inauguration speech where he made similar commitments, President Masisi’s words have turned into a clich├®, seemingly just paying lip service to the idea of Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Bill.

“I will do my utmost to continually grow confidence in and of governance through a combination of new legislation, ethical codes and demonstrable and efficacious behaviour. To this end, expect specific legislation on declaration of assets and liabilities soon”, Masisi told the nation in April 2018.

There has been three more sessions of parliament since President Masisi took over power and the government continues to play delaying tactics when it comes to the proposed Bill.

The July session, when the President , and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Nonofo Molefhi  has promised the proposed Bill will be tabled, is set to be the last meeting of the Eleventh Parliament .

Should the Bill fail to pass, Batswana are likely to continue the long wait after handing over a new five year mandate to possibly a new Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) government in October,2019.

“…..next year sitting I will be tabling a Bill over the declaration of Assets and Liabilities so that those with keen interest will have their questions and suspicions answered”, Molefhi told Parliament in December 2018.  

Former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament Dumelang Saleshando tabled a motion in favor of the Bill during the 10 Parliament, early 2014 in the wake of a wave allegations of corruption that implicated senior government officials under former President Ian Khama’s administration. The proposed bill would require government officials and heads of parastatals to declare their assets and liabilities upon assuming office in order to combat corruption. The bill was debated in parliament but was never signed by the President into law.

In fact , Saleshando’s motion was defeated when then Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Masisi, announced that the Government was working on bringing the Bill. The debate on the proposed bill was again resuscitated in late 2014, when the 11th Parliament commenced duty following the October general elections. Saleshando had also tabled the bill earlier in 2010 and it was shot down, with the then Minister of Presidential Affairs Lesego Motsumi insisting her government would prepare its own legislation regarding the proposed Bill. It remains to be seen if the Bill will pass through the 2019 winter session of Parliament.

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