It turns out that the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Lesego Motsumi woke up to the fact that there is grave need for a declaration of assets and liabilities bill after all.
The minister, whether through sudden realisation or through sudden inspiration, now promises to put before Parliament a law on the declaration of assets by people in national leadership positions. The issue of the declaration of assets legislation, although very central to a serious democracy, has been one of the most hated ideas by the executive. As far as most members of the executive and some Botswana Democratic Party MPs are concerned, a public peep into their personal business interests would be akin to unnecessary invasion of privacy.
The BDP collectively has been averse to the idea of a declaration of assets and liabilities legislation. What is really surprising is that Motsumi, through some cynical political ploy, suddenly realised that she needed to put the same bill before Parliament. This is very cynical and takes the public for a mindless mob ready to dance to any tune.
We know that Motsumi was never interested in a declaration of assets legislation. She has had ample time to prove so, both as an MP and as a member of the past Cabinet. We also know that the BDP government was never interested in this, since it has had 12 years to prove so. Motsumi is trying to outmanoeuvre Salehshando and the public, which is behind this motion, by springing this quick surprise of sudden goodwill. However, we have been heartened by the position taken by MPs across the political aisle that Motsumi tables her motion before the end of year or they would support Saleshando's bill. We think MPs should have just rejected Motsumi's cynical moves, but given how meek our Parliament is, we will take the new development instead.
A plea to AG Athalia Molokomme
The Attorney General is one of the most important institutions in this country. Generally, while balancing the public right to information and the need for dealing with their stakeholders in confidence, competent AGs in other countries have managed to work out a way to release information on matters of national interest. Other bodies which deal with the need for confidentiality such as the police have also established a certain level of interest in delivering information to the media, and thus to the public whenever requested or otherwise. However, the department of public relations within AG either through accident or by design has to be among the most consciously unhelpful and intransigent of any such bodies within government. It is impossible to get an answer, remotely timely if at all, from the department on any matter whatsoever. At the head of the department is an individual who has no interest whatsoever in releasing information on even the most mundane of issues. It does not help the delivery of justice in this country for a department so integral to this project to be so unfriendly to public enquiry. Justice needs to manifestly be seen to be done.
"If the public doesn't have trust in what happens in the courts, then what happens has far less meaning."