Dear editor, I read with interest various newspaper scoops for the weekend quoting the Hon minister of Tourism Tshekedi Khama bashing the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), in particular adding to the opposition in Parliament the misperception that the DIS is over-funded.
To quote the various newspaper sources, minister Tshekedi wants a chunk of the funds allotted to the DIS to be channelled to his Ministry. To support his case, the Minister argues that his Ministry oversees the second largest revenue earner for the economy, being tourism. He argues that his Ministry deserves to have a huge budget commensurate with its significance to the economy.
What I find comical is the comparison with the DIS, which is not a Ministry, to a whole Ministry of Wildlife, Environment and Tourism. Even a baby cannot take it as gospel truth that the DIS is allocated more funds than the entire Ministry of Rre Tshekedi Khama. One only has to peep through the budget request for the DIS under the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, and also peep through the recently tabled Ministry of Tourism’s budget.
It is true that tourism contributes a lot to this economy. It is true that tourism is our pride after diamonds and that it is our number one foreign exchange earner. It is also true that such an industry needs to be supported massively with resources to enable it to continue to perform as well as it is doing, if not better.
Tourism as an industry however, is complex and is more than just the responsibility of one Ministry. For anyone to claim that tourism is big largely because of the Ministry of tourism would be very false. In fact the level of support from across other ministries and sectors, to tourism are seven fold more than all the funds by the Ministry of Tourism alone.
For tourism to thrive, we need the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) with its resources. They buy their hardware, very costly hardware to fight poaching. Often when they do so, they are bashed in Parliament and all over the media as wasteful. Little do people remember that it was the BDF, with its resources in the 80’s and 90’s, that worked tirelessly to fight poaching and preserve the tourism industry that is thriving today.
Today the police have joined in through their SSG, with their own resources, prisons department have also joined in, with their own resources.
The DIS, with their diverse intelligence operations, have also no doubt become a critical part of anti-poaching and tourism industry preservation as a whole.
We are not going to shut out the DIS and other security organs and condemn their expenditure as extravagant,
Most of all, Rre Tshekedi, we will need a lot of intelligence to be a step ahead of the threats to our tourism that I believe you are so passionate about.
That said, Hon. Minister, I sympathise with you that your Ministry needs so much funds to do so many things at once yet, as you claim, you are given very little every year.
This is not to be rude, but hey, which Ministry can claim to be receiving enough? Certain quarters of our society believe the BDF is over-funded, but the Minister responsible for the army recently showed Parliament that despite the uproars, the reverse is true.
The largest chunk of the funding, as we know goes to the Ministry of Education, but we know even that Ministry is crying every year, requesting for additional funding. This is not to say they are being wasteful.
I’m saying these examples to reiterate that I hear your lamentations about funding in your Ministry, since the issue of under-funding generally cuts across all Ministries and directorates, including the DIS that you lambasted in Parliament for extravagance.
While I shed a tear or two with you in your funding pains, I however ought to pause and caution your Ministry, or should I say, you specifically Hon. Minister Tshekedi Khama about extravagant expenditure and the culture of entitlement that has come to characterise your tenure generally at the top as the untouchable Minister who can do whatever he likes with his Ministry funds.
I read that you are the only cabinet Minister who bought himself a jet with over P300 million, that you went all out to set up tourism intelligence, which I read in the Sunday Standard in particular that it is one of the extravagantly funded units. You decided to open some tourism office in Dubai for millions of pula, and the newspapers report that you diverted over P80 million from tourism levy to stage some air show expos that were held in Makgadikgadi and Gaborone. You have never challenged these reports and your silence can only be interpreted to mean the reports have some truth.
I’m sure with some reduced extravagance at your Ministry, a lot can be achieved, though I must admit, not all at once, since they say, Rome was not built in a day.
Hustler in Mogoditshane