Francistown West Member of Parliament Ignatius Moswaane on Thursday lambasted government for wasteful spending, saying there should be focus on more pressing public needs. He was responding to a budget proposal by Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi.
In his proposal, Kgathi requested P22.5 million for developments within the Ministry, including construction and rehabilitation of the border fence at P18million and another P4.5million for fencing of Dukwi refugee camp. In response to Kgathi’s proposition, Moswaane described the expenditures as wasteful, considering the current economic crisis.
“P18m for fencing a border is immaterial. It’s a total waste of public money. The country’s current budget is tight and government should release money for a realistic purpose, not a fence. There are hard pressing national issues that need our consideration instead of a border fence,” charged Moswaane.
He further said Botswana has not faced any threats to its security from neighbouring countries, such that refurbishing the border fence was not a priority. In response, Kgathi argued that the border fence will facilitate easy movement of security agents who patrol the border.
“The project title is historical and could therefore be misleading in that my Ministry is not responsible for construction of border fences, but is rather responsible for facilitating easy movement of our country security agencies. Accordingly the project name will be corrected in NDP 11,” he said.
This statement did not go down well with Moswaane who argued that Parliament could not adopt a budget whose project name is yet to be discussed in NDP 11. He further said Parliament must address itself to budget proposals under NDP 10 because NDP 11 will resume next year. In that regard, Moswaane called for the two projects to be scrapped from the Ministry’s budget proposal. He was however overruled by Deputy Speaker Kagiso Molatlhegi, who said Parliamentary standing orders prohibit such a motion. The budget was therefore passed as initially proposed by Kgathi.
Apart from facilitating easy movement of security agencies by means of construction of new patrol routes, the border fence project will also include rehabilitation and construction of beacons along the boundary lines with neighbouring countries. The project will also cater for installation of a data and biometric system in the Dukwi refugee camp to enhance registration, management and demographics of all refuges including issuance of machine readable identity cards. Kgathi told Parliament that the Dukwi refugee camp fence was totally vandalized over the years, thereby compromising the security of refugees resident in the camp. The Ministry requested a sum of P4 951,166,780 under the recurrent budget and P3, 588,755,648 under the development budget for the year 2016/17.