Sunday, February 28, 2021

Speaker stops BNYC probe

In a curious turn of events, the speaker of the National Assembly Gladys Kokorwe last week stopped investigation into the alleged corruption at the Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC). The Speaker was allegedly acting on “instructions from above”, a source disclosed.

A concerned member of the committee tasked with the investigations told Sunday Standard that there has been a lot of meddling by “the powers that be” “They stopped us while we were busy conducting the investigations. The committee chairman was ordered by the speaker to stop the investigation allegedly on instructions from above”, the source said. BNYC Executive Director Benjamin Raletsatsi appeared before the Portfolio Committee on Youth, Sports and Culture on 21st April 2015, but the committee could not interrogate him because the chairman was ordered to stop the investigations.

Sunday Standard is in possession of the summons from the National Assembly ordering the BNYC Executive Director to produce and submit and appear before the Portfolio Committee on Tuesday 21st April 2015 at 0900 hours at Parliament Annex 1 Room 61.

BNYC executive Director was expected to submit the following:
– Mandate of the Botswana Youth Council
– Information on the linkage between the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and BNYC
– Contract letters of employment for dismissed officers.

“For us to investigate BNYC management we require authority from the speaker. It’s difficult to tell at the moment whether the speaker will grant us permission to investigate BNYC with the attitude she has already shown concerning the investigation into the matter,” said a Parliamentary committee member. There have been several attempts by the ruling Botswana democratic party (BDP) and the national assembly deputy speaker to kill the investigations as early as at the stage of a parliamentary motion. Twice parliament was forced to adjourn before scheduled time because the deputy Speaker Kagiso Molatlhegi would not allow BDP Member of Parliament for Francistown West Ignatius Moswaane to table the motion calling for an investigation into allegations of corruption at BNYC.

During the first attempt, the deputy Speaker would not allow Moswaane to table the motion claiming that the motion had not reached the office of speaker on time for decision to be made whether it could be debated urgently or not.

The deputy speaker, tried to have the business of Parliament continue as indicated in the order paper. However, Moswaane, supported by several opposition MPs, was defiant that the motion should be debated. He said it surprised him how the motion delayed in reaching the speaker while he had noticed it on February 18. Moswaane decided to defer 14 other motions by him appearing on the order paper. He was joined by other MPs and twenty-five motions were deferred in total, leaving the deputy speaker with no other option but to ask Leader of the House, Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, to move for adjournment of business with more than two hours before scheduled time.

Two weeks later, Parliament was again forced to adjourn before scheduled time after the deputy Speaker again refused to have the motion debated. MPs across the political divide then walked out in what appeared to be a protest against the refusal to allow Moswaane’s motion. Deputy Speaker, Kagiso Molatlhegi, told parliament that he would not allow Moswaane’s motion because he failed to follow proper procedure in tabling the motion. Although the BDP Parliamentary caucus opposed the motion, it ultimately sailed through parliament with the backing of all opposition MPs and a few BDP backbenchers.

The committee tasked with investigating BNYC is made up of seven Members of Parliament, three members from the opposition and four from the BDP one of them being the committee chairperson. Opposition members of the committee are worried that the BDP may collapse the committee quorum and make it impossible for the investigations to continue.

“The BDP is strategic. On April 21st three of the ruling BDP members were absent, only one came and it meant if he had decided to leave the quorum would have collapsed. Four members are required to form a quorum and the total number of opposition MPs in the committee cannot form a quorum.” Reached for comment the Speaker of the National Assembly directed this publication to the Principal Public relation officer Karabo Marumo who failed to answer the questions but gave irrelevant information to what was asked. The committee is expected to meet again on the15 but they are not sure whether the meeting will materialise.

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