Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Matambo remains elephant in the room as Parliament debates BDC reports

Ruling party legislators are skirting around the call by the opposition bench that Minister of Finance and Development Planning Ken Matambo should resign following the tabling and adoption of the report on the million pula Botswana Development Corporation Fengyue glass projects that has been marooned by a tide of sleaze and poor corporate governance.

The role played by Matambo in the glass project fiasco was expected to be the main attraction in the debate. Curiously, it is turning out to be the big elephant in the living-room that no BDP legislator wants to talk about.

Commenting on the report that has been adopted by parliament, MP Botsalo Ntuane avoided the crucial political question and instead quoted Russian communist leader Vladimir Lenin on ‘what is to be done’.

Ntuane preferred to treat the matter as a trial for most of Botswana’s oversight institutions.

He said the catastrophic loss of money at BDC through a dubious investment was testimony that Botswana has a problem of oversight in her institutions. Ntuane called for a ministry to oversee state owned enterprises.

He said this would strengthen oversight in that the ministry would focus on government companies and parastatals.

“Most parastatals operate without an oversight…there is clearly a crisis of oversight,” said Ntuane.

He pointed out that it was disturbing that some board members have turned board membership into a career. Ntuane’s suggestion is that there should be a term limit for board members to guard against corruption and conflict of interests.

He said this would avoid cases of parliament having to go the extra mile of probing parastatals.

“Most parastatals operate without an oversight…there is clearly a crisis of oversight,” said Ntuane.
He added that it would be worrisome if no tangible action is taken arguing that it has the potential to diminish the value of whistle blowing. He said that the public would be listening with keen interest to see if an action will be taken following the inquiry otherwise the inquiry would be taken as just a routine cosmetic exercise.

Palapye MP Master Goya pointed a finger at BDC’s legal advisory department and maintains that Legal Affairs, which at the time was headed by Michael Leburu, should take the blame. Leburu is now a High Court judge.

“The legal advisers are to blame and they should be taken to task..,” said Goya, who altogether abstained from saying anything about the report’s findings against minister Matambo. Goya urged government to implement the recommendations from the BDC inquiry.

Tswapong North MP Prince Maele has also blamed the BDC board that he said failed to provide leadership during a critical time.

He said that he wondered why Maria Nthebolan was appointed to head BDC when it was clear from the onset that she was not competent for the job. The MP said that the glass project failed because of poor corporate governance.

“The board failed to provide leadership…it failed its fiduciary responsibility,” he said guardedly omitting to make any comments on the minister’s role.


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