Opposition Members of Parliament (MP) have challenged government through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to respond to allegations of missing funds at Bank of Botswana (BoB).
The MPs wanted finance minister, Thapelo Matsheka to answer on the money trail or lack of. Their comments followed on a question raised by Maun West legislator and leader of opposition, Dumelang Saleshando, who had enquired about the security of funds in the BoB custody.
Selebi-Phikwe West MP, Dithapelo Keorapetse said it was of public interest that the reputation of the central bank and prudent management of public resources in Botswana is preserved. He further asked the finance minister if in his view getting answers over allegations that huge sum of money was missing at the apex bank does not serve public interest.
“I say this because time and again the government says we are the least corrupt country in the world, according to the corruption perception index measurements,” Keorapetse said. “So perception matters, we are greylisted, and we may be blacklisted if we leave these allegations to continue. Are you not worried about the reputation of the country when you look at these allegations?” he asked.
He said if one does not have P10 million in their account and there are allegations that someone stole that money, it would be clear that such allegations are false.
“Why can’t you just stand in Parliament and state if there are no missing funds at BoB and not in the same way the bank has been saying that nobody has stolen from them. If you leave allegations such as this one to fly, you are further damaging the country’s reputation including the central bank. If there is no money missing in our coffers, say so, is it normal that there are allegations in court but
The MP for Okavango, Kenny Kapinga said it seems like the government is reluctant to respond to the accusations because the person who is being accused is their enemy.
He stated that it is the government’s responsibility to dismiss those allegations and stop misleading the public.
Matsheka confirmed he was aware of ongoing investigations at court pertaining to the allegations made regarding what the MPs raised. The Minister, however, said he would not want to be drawn into pre-emptively speaking on an ongoing investigation of such great public interest. “I will not at this point speak on behalf of the bank or confirm their recent statement on the matter because it has not been made official to my office,” he said.
Matsheka said Botswana is known for the rule of law hence he would not speak on the merits of an ongoing case.
“There are investigating authorities, courts of law and they may not agree but in the past even some MPs have made allegations on how they are targeted by institutions of government,” he said.
“We will have to separate these issues and allow organisations that are entrusted with (looking into these) allegations to investigate those allegations. This issue was never raised in my meetings because it is a matter that needs to be dealt with under a legally constituted structure.”
Matsheka said he appreciates the MPs’ concerns, but they ‘must separate the power of Parliament, the courts, judiciary and the executive’.