While Batswana are struggling with high costs of electricity and water, Members of Parliament (MPs) have, for the past two-and-half years, been enjoying free electricity and water.
This came to light at the ongoing Public Accounts Committee (PAC) during Parliament presentation by the Clerk of the National Assembly, Barbara Dithapo.
But it is not the MPs’ fault, as Parliament administration has been failing to make them account.
At the presentation, PAC members interrogated Dithapo on Parliament’s failure to charge MPs electricity and water for the past two-and -half years at their Parliamentary flats. PAC member and Tati East MP, Samson Moyo Guma asked why Parliament was failing to charge MPs, especially that they have been enjoying the free services for the past two-and-half years.
“Does this look right to members of the public for MPs to be enjoying free services while Batswana are struggling with high payments of water and electricity?”Guma remonstrated.
He further wondered; “Why are we not paying? This is worrisome. We have once complained about this and requested Parliament to account. To date, MPs are enjoying free services”.
Another PAC member, Ditlhapelo Keorapetse who is Selebi-Phikwe West MP, shared Moyo’s sentiments that it is of concern that Parliament is failing to make MPs accountable to their water and electricity consumption.
He wondered how Parliament is going to determine how much each and every MP owes and how much per month since the houses do not have meters.
“MPs are enjoying free services at Parliament flats while unemployed Batswana are struggling with payments. This is not fair. What is so difficult for Parliament to take a step and make MPs accountable for their consumption?” Keorapetse queried.
In response, Dithapo said they are in the process of installing meters even though it seems there is a delay with the concerned corporations.
Keorapetse interrupted and asked which criteria will be used to charge them because they do not have meter readings. Even though Dithapo was not certain when MPs will start paying, she promised to make them account for their consumption.
“There is a formula that can be used for payments, like using the minimum fee like with the WUC. Their minimum fee is P40. We can charge them (MPs) using it. I do not know the minimum fee of BPC, but we will engage them so that they can help us charge them and we promise that they will pay,” Dithapo said.
Meanwhile, PAC members asked for the budget of transportation of MPs when Parliament is in session. They said that MPs are not happy with the service, despite the cost being high.
To that, Dithapo said MPs’ transportation is shared and that costs P300,000 per meeting per vehicle as they outsource the service from Central Transport Organisation.
“Do you think this has value for money? Do you think it is working? On average an MP might be using around P10,000 per meeting. This is too much, especially that they are even not happy about this service,” Guma thundered.
Dithapo admitted that the service is not working for them as MPs are not happy. She said this is why a decision had been taken for MPs’ transport to be addressed.
“We are looking at whether we should consider giving MPs transport allowances or any better alternative,” Dithapo said.