For those who may have to answer the question of who the most honest ministers in the country are at a job interview, one individual on the list is the Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water resources, Kitso Mokaila. His name got on that list courtesy of his former boss at the Botswana Defence Force, Gabane-Mankgodi MP, Major General Pius Mokgware.
The recent retrenchments in the mining sector are a source of grave concern to MPs and Mokaila has had to explain the situation to parliament. Contributing to the debate on this issue, Mokgware prefaced his remarks by praising Mokaila for being a truth-teller.
“Thank you Minister for your very good answer and I think you are one of the honest ministers I have come across in this country. I am very happy with that,” he said.
He then made some pronouncements about the government’s conduct of the mining sector that Mokaila took issue with.
“Madam Speaker while I must appreciate what the General said about me, the Captain shall disagree with the General,” said Mokaila who held the rank of Captain when he left the BDF.
The General also asked the Captain if he was in a position “to tell this house how many or who are the members of the Botswana Democratic Party who are the directors in these particular companies you have just closed.”
The response: “Unfortunately Madam Speaker, I am not in that position because I do not even know who the directors are. I do not in all honesty, if I knew I would tell you. But I do not know who is in Motiganz or who is in Discovery Metals Limited but from DML I do not think there are any. It is open, these companies are listed. You can go and investigate for yourself, but I do not know.”
However, there was none of that goodwill from another side of the opposition bench. Mochudi East MP, Isaac Davids, caught Mokaila laughing about something in between fielding questions about the retrenchments and was in no mood to see pearly whites from someone he expected to be somber-faced.
“Minister, there are thousands of jobs that are at stake and the more you laugh about it the more I get angry. Thousands of Batswana have lost their jobs. I will put it to you straight: it is a failure on your part, your ministry and your government,” Davids said.
Mokaila countered that he was not laughing about the situation of the retrenched employees.
“I am sure he came late because I said every job lost is a job too many and I am very concerned about it and that is why I engaged as much as I did. So standing up and being emotional on the floor of parliament is not going to help solve the problem. I think what will help us solve the problem is putting our heads together and come up with better solutions because they affect us as well,” he said.