The Botswana Congress Party Member of Parliament for Gaborone Central┬áand Leader of the Opposition, Dumelang Saleshando, agrees with the constitutional appointment of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairperson from the political opposition as democratic and transparent.
Botswana has over the years maintained the PAC stewardship under the political opposition, to show unwavering commitment to the democratic dispensation manifested there in.
Saleshando told Sunday The Telegraph in Gaborone last week that by appointing Botswana Movement for Democracy MP for Lobatse, Nehemiah Modubule, as PAC Chairperson, Botswana had joined the ranks of the world’s renowned democracies and served as a benchmarking platform for dilly-dallying Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states.
Saleshando was commenting last week in Gaborone on the Assistant Auditor General PAC Philip Mutambarah’s matter of fact statement that the majority of democratic countries, including Botswana, believe in transparency.
Giving an overview of PAC during a three-day University of Botswana executive seminar on ‘enhancing leadership in Gaborone in financial administration and accountability’, which was sponsored by the Global and SADC Centre of Specialization in Public Administration and Management, Mutambarah said cross-party support would add strength and impact of public financial accountability through the triangular arrangement involving the Executive, Parliament and the Auditor General.
According to Mutambarah, UB’s 2012 theme, “Leadership and Financial Accountability”, underscored public financial accountability as the foundation of integrity where leaders in public life operate in an environment which demands accountability; there will be little room for integrity standards to slip.
“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 jeopardized. 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.”
In Botswana, Ghana and other countries, the AG has attached a senior officer to provide on the ground technical support to PAC as a way of enhancing its effectiveness. After receiving the AG’s report, hearings become the principal mechanism by which officials from various departments, agencies or other relevant bodies answer to the Committee. To enhance transparency, in many countries PAC hearings are conducted in public. Although Botswana initiated PAC public hearings during 2012, other committees are yet to follow suit, he said.
“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 utilization 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.