Monday, December 4, 2023

Parliament’s intervention at BDC is timely and welcome

Parliament has once again risen to the occasion by adopting an urgent motion by South East South legislator Odirile Motlhale calling for an investigation into goings on at the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC)’s Palapye Fengyue Glass Project.

This is the second time this year that parliament has taken responsibility and sought to intervene in matters of national interest.

First it was during the two months long strike when it convened a belated General Assembly (GA) where it resolved to implore the striking civil servants to return to work on the back of the suffering that the public was subjected to as a result of the strike.

At the same GA it had also resolved to implore government to reinstate all the sacked essential services employees in addition to waiving the “no work no pay” rule that had been applied by the employer during the period of the strike.

Although parliamentary intervention was then long overdue, it was still a move in the right direction especially that the decision was reached across the political divide.

By its intervention, parliament had then passed the buck to the striking public service unions and their employer, the executive arm of government through the Directorate of Public Service Management to resolve an impasse that had badly affected the country’s economy which was still reeling from the effects of the global economic down turn.

The intervention was a clear display of maturity by parliament as representatives of the people and as an oversight institution. There was absolutely no way parliament could have stayed aloof when their electorates and the economy were exposed to such devastating effects of the national strike.

It is just unfortunate that at the end of the day the executive arm of the government did not accept parliament’s resolution as almost a thousand employees to date remain dismissed from the public service owing to their disregard of the court order emanating from the legal tussle between government and their unions.

This time around as the BDC saga reaches grows, parliament is up again on its feet trying to get to the bottom of the issue without pointing fingers at the figures/forces at play.

By adopting the motion, parliament is exercising its oversight role as it cannot helplessly sit back and watch the government’s investment arm sink amid controversies that the public seeks answers to.

The controversies engulfing the BDC have the potential to scare away potential investors who were otherwise destined to partner with the corporation in economic activities that would help diversify the country’s economy away from diamonds.

The other point is that BDC is a wholly owned government entity promulgated by an Act of parliament and funded from public coffers.

It therefore goes without saying that if the corporation is besieged by allegations of corruption and maladministration, parliament should promptly do all in its power to ensure that sanity is restored at the parastatal.

It is further disturbing that some of the allegations point to the executives of the corporation having pocketed millions out of the deals haunting the corporation.

Even as the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) has camped at the corporation to investigate the alleged improprieties, parliament would not be overstepping or undermining the work of the DCEC in that regard.

Simply put, its investigation would be complimentary to the work of the DCEC so that if ever there is anything untoward and corrupt at the corporation, it is timeously tackled and the culprits brought to book.

The huge investment of millions of Pula that government has invested in this project should not be left to go to waste as some greedy elements at the corporation are busy lining their pockets with public money as it has been alleged.

It is our ardent hope that the parliament select committee will expeditiously probe the corporation and make its findings public to restore confidence in the corporation.

We also hope that the executive will give parliament the thumbs up in its envisaged investigation.


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