In Government and the ruling party, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, is among the most senior and respected. Her word carries weight.
Hence what the former Minister of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) said in Parliament this week should trouble the nation. Her revelations have serious implications on the way our Government operates.
As we have noted, Venson-Moitoi is not an ordinary MP. Her influence became real last year when, despite her glaring failures at MoESD, President Ian Khama could not fire her. Instead he side-shifted her; removing but not really removing her from her ministerial position. Khama appointed the current Vice-President Mokgweetsi Masisi the acting Minister of Education, and announced that Venson-Moitoi would stay to work on a ‘project’ within the ministry. Though she was officially not a minister, she continued to undertake Cabinet duties as if it was business as usual.
It was therefore not surprising when Venson-Moitoi defended the need for a supplementary budget for MoESD this week. Shocking, however, was Venson-Moitoi’s admission that among the many blunders, the ministry has no database of its core workers, teachers. She told the National Assembly that they do not know how many teachers are employed at Government schools.
This is a disturbing admission by this Government. Since she was appointed education minister in 2009, Venson-Moitoi has presided over a failing system which was characterised by poor results in Government schools. She resisted calls from Opposition parties, and other commentators to step down, insisting she inherited the problems.
Now she has come clean, admitting failure. But for a minister to state they do not know how many employees they have is the most shocking ever. If the ministry cannot account for its employees, then what about the students; what about those teachers who have been working in rural areas for decades without progression or further training? What if there are ghost employees who may be on the Government’s payroll?
The minister’s revelations are an indication that the Government could be in the dark about the exact population of this country; the unemployment rate and even the number of graduates it produces and for which fields. There are many implications to Venson-Moitoi’s revelation, as this could extend to all other Government departments. What about some departments that do not account to anybody, such as the DIS? Obviously the government does not know who is earning how much, for what, and why, and it keeps pouring hundreds of millions of the taxpayer’s money into the pockets of a few individuals. We caution - Venson-Moitoi’s revelations should not be taken lightly!
“When we are honest about the limitations we are self imposing it becomes necessary to cry out with determination and state you’ve had enough of the mediocrity of stagnation.”
- Heidi Reagan