Some Public Accounts Committee (PAC) members in the opposition have questioned the Ministry for Presidential Affairs, Governance & Public Administration’s motives for putting a stop to current affairs and political programmes at the state broadcaster.
They demand answers as to why Botswana Television’s (Btv) The Eye and Matlho a Phage were no longer on air.
According to the PAC members, those programmes were assisting Batswana to know about opposition parties’ views on different issues.
“What really happened to these programmes? Was there any directive calling for the cancellation of them? Are you aware that opposition parties are no longer being invited at Btv to articulate on some issues like before? Now the Btv is being turned into a propaganda machine,” Member of Parliament (MP) for Selebi-Phikwe East, Dithapelo Keorapetse asked on Friday.
For his part, MP for Bobonong, Taolo Lucas demanded to know why opposition parties were not invited at Btv when national issues are discussed so that Batswana could know their viewpoints.
“The Btv is now being used to cover the President’s trips, donations and ministers only. Why is it like that?” Lucas asked.
The accounting officer at the Presidential Affairs Ministry, Pearl Ramokoka told the committee that she was still new in her post. Ramokoka promised the committee she will enquire as to why those programmes were no longer airing.
“I do not have answers to your questions on this issue, but I promise the committee that I will give them feedback on the matter. I am new in this Ministry and some of the issues I am not aware of,” she said.
Meanwhile, Lucas wanted to know why the Ministry has transferred procurement of COVID-19 supplies to them instead of it being done by the Ministry of Health and Wellness. He also asked why the Presidential Task Force does not fall under the Health Ministry.
“It looks like the Task Force is disempowering the Ministry of Health. Is it necessary to make directives during procurement of Covid supplies or is it done to give tenders to other people?” Lucas asked.
However, Ramokoka said the reason why the Task Force was formed is that COVID-19 has brought more workload to the Ministry of Health. She said for the country to fight the pandemic, it needed to bring together specialists who know about the virus and medical ones.
“No one knew about this virus even medical officers. Therefore, we needed specialists from all government departments and researchers. The task team is working hand-in-hand with the Ministry of Health even on the issue of procurement,” she said. “The reason why the ministries had to join hands is to reduce the spread of the virus and even the quarantine sites were identified by the health ministry.”