Botswana: Parliament to Investigate Statistics Botswana

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Gaborone — Parliament on Friday, February 20 approved a motion calling for investigations of alleged corruption practices at Statistics Botswana.

The motion, tabled by Goodhope-Mabule MP, Mr James Mathokgwane and amended by Tati East MP, Mr Samson Guma asked Parliament to request its committee on statutory bodies to meet as a matter of urgency to investigate allegations of corruption, maladministration, nepotism, misappropriation of funds and failure to follow good practices at Statistics Botswana.

Many MPs who debated the motion spoke in support of it, even though some Botswana Democratic Party MPs felt that the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) should be left to handle the issue alone.

Kanye North MP, Mr Patrick Ralotsia said while he was concerned to hear about allegations of corruption at Statistics Botswana, he felt Parliament should refer the matter to the DCEC instead of making its own investigations.

He said the law entitles anyone to report corrupt practices to the DCEC. He said Parliament must concentrate on making laws. He advised MPs to amend and strengthen legislation that governs the DCEC if they suspect it was failing to do its duty effectively instead of Parliament usurping the role of DCEC.

This view was also held by the MP for Shoshong, Mr Phillip Makgalemele, who said the issue was already being handled by the DCEC. He said the DCEC started dealing with the matter two weeks ago. He said letting Parliament to investigate it would compromise DCEC investigations.

However, Gaborone North MP, Mr Haskins Nkaigwa said Parliament was legally entitled to take action when it suspects maladministration and corruption in state enterprises.

"Parliament has a right to stop corruption in state enterprises. Corruption and nepotism have no place in our society and if Parliament finds them taking place in any government institutions it should intervene," the Umbrella for Democratic Change MP argued.

Mochudi West MP, Mr Gilbert Mangole also said Parliament has the power to investigate the issue. "We cannot just rely on the DCEC because it also has some limitations. We have a problem here which we should attend. Parliament has an oversight role and it should not neglect its responsibility," he said.

The mover of the motion, Mr Mathokgwane said the matter was brought before the DCEC in 2014, not two weeks back as Mr Makgalemele said.

"If the DCEC failed to act on the issue for more than a year, then Parliament has to act on it urgently.

There is nothing wrong with Parliament exercising its oversight role which is provided for in the standing orders.

Parliament has to make sure that processes that are there to guide state enterprises are followed to the letter.

If we do not do that we will be sending a wrong message that these bodies can do as they wish," Mr Mathokgwane said. 

SOURCE: All-Africa.com, February 22nd, 2015, http://allafrica.com/stories/201502231486.html