Parly should be careful on corruption probe

Parliament this week adopted a motion calling for the investigation into allegations of corruption and maladministration at Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC).

The motion, tabled by Francistown West MP Ignatius Moswaane was prompted by retrenchments at this institution, which is fully funded by the taxpayer. 

The BNYC, which was established in 1974, has never been in the news for good reasons, ever since the 90s.

Although the House has not finalised on who will conduct the investigation, we hope that such investigation will be conducted in a professional manner.

We hope that the outcome of the investigation will result in some people answering for their actions.

In the event that the National Assembly decides to conduct its own investigations, through a Special Select Committee, it is our request that such assignment is carried out in a professional manner that does not infringe on the rights of the individuals concerned.

We say this in the wake of a recent judgment in a case in which Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo successfully challenged a report by Parliament on its findings on the Palapye Glass project.

This was a joint venture project between Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) a commercial arm of government, and a Chinese company. The project attracted a lot of controversy, and the close to P500 million spent on it went down the drain after the project failed to materialise. The Special Select Committee that was appointed by Parliament called witnesses to testify hence the report.

However, the High Court had other findings about the conduct of the investigations by members of the National Assembly. Justice Key Dingake found that, in conducting their investigations, the MPs, or members of the Special Select Committee behaved like they were a bench of judges presiding over a criminal matter.

He also found that they treated some of the witnesses, including Matambo as accused persons, something which provoked a series of questions of natural justice, fair hearing, objectivity and impartiality.

Dingake made a conclusion that: “Although the Applicant was a witness, it is plain to me that having regard to the damaging nature of the accusations against him, that he was for all intents and purposes an accused. He was in the view of the Committee a candidate of a criminal investigation and/or even prosecution”.

The above statement sums it all – If members of the National Assembly opt to do their own investigation, they have to observe all rules of natural justice if the outcome of their investigations are to be of benefit to the nation, and future generations. With a good number of lawyers in the House, we hope that they will observe all these rules.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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