Wednesday, August 5, 2020

You are not above the law, Guma tells Tshekedi

Government through the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and Enterprises has subpoenaed the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Tshekedi Khama to appear before the committee for the second time.

Tshekedi was summoned to appear before the committee recently to answer for alleged illegal decisions he made at Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) led by Thabo Dithebe then.

At the time he was said to have been in Morocco and it was not clear whether it was an official or personal trip.

The Committee Chairman, MP for Tati East Guma Moyo, stated that the committee had made the decision to subpoena Tshekedi to appear, adding that failure to do so was being disrespectful to Parliament.

“He has to come back here and there is no exception and no one is above the law. When anybody is summoned to appear before this committee everything else stops and he must come here except His Excellency. We are going to subpoena him to come and that is one thing we did not want to do,” said Moyo.

Moyo stated that Tshekedi as an MP should know that he had to respect the procedure. He added that he would appear alone and that there was no need for Permanent Secretary Ellias Magosi to come back before the committee again.

Amongst the issued raised during the committee examination was the unceremonial exit of Dithebe who was still serving notice which was cut short this past Friday by Tshekedi and acting BTO Chairman Lawrence Khupe. 

Magosi confirmed that there was a meeting which he was not part of, where the decision was made to cut short Dithebe’s notice.

Another issue that was raised was an instruction from Tshekedi through a letter dated July 6, 2016 to the BTO CEO to consider employing a certain Changu Newman as the USA Attach├® in Washington DC at the BTO office tasked with running the US office. Dithebe did not consider the instruction because she did not qualify for the job as she under performed in both two interviews.

Another instruction from Tshekedi that raised eyebrows was the realignment of the BTO structure, which was not approved at board level and that had a few names such as Jillian Blackbeard who should be upgraded to Executive Manager Marketing, earning more than the CEO.  

“Marketing managers and public relations managers should report direct to executive manager – marketing,” reads the letter from Tshekedi.

The outgoing Dithebe indicated that there was an initial approved structure which was to be implemented and was later not taken for consideration.

The same letter from Khama stated that the sum of P23 288 435.03 million be required as recurrent budget to fund the supplementary proposals for the 2016/17 financial year.

Both Magosi and outgoing Dithebe openly and categorically expressed displeasure of the conditions they were working under in Tshekedi’s leadership, adding that they were in an uncomfortable situation. 

Moyo stated the committee is yet to call BTO Legal Officer Zibanani Hubona for examination.

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Sunday Standard August 2 – 8

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of August 2 - 8, 2020.