The Clerk of the National Assembly has decried one of the country’s vital oversight bodies lacks the capacity to fully execute its mandate when she appeared before the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) recently.
Barbara Dithapo, who is the Clerk, bemoaned this lapse into incapacitation over the years, appeared before the committee chaired by Selebi-Phikwe West MP, Dithapelo Keorapetse on Wednesday morning only to sing the same song.
Dithapo pleaded with committee members to amplify their cry for help from relevant government departments.
“We have for long been decrying staff inadequacy. We plead with you to help us as oversight institutions get the area experts we need for each portfolio committee to assist us to facilitate parliamentary oversight.
We also need a dedicated development planner as in other ministries, yet we are an arm of government [that does without]. We have long requested as we currently use an officer based elsewhere who comes once in a while,” she said. Dithapo also said they have long pleaded that they get an internal auditor who could assist them identify some issues timely before they can appear at the PAC.
She had earlier made clear their procurement staffing was also not enough and has caused delays for them.
“Several Invitations to Tender (ITT) have been cancelled because critical stakeholders were excluded. We missed a lot of time as some tenders had to be re-done,” she said.
“As mentioned before this committee in the past, we have an acute staff shortage and when we are for example dealing with a security tender, we found out late that stakeholders were not involved. Parliament is a security area and everything had to be stopped to ensure that the ITT is in line with requirements of all security organisations.” Dithapo added it was regrettable that the tender had to be stopped and a lot of time wasted.
The Clerk revealed they also had procurement issues for broadcasting parliamentary proceedings live, as they had not considered some important stakeholders. She said they needed more staff complement to be able to deliver on these important issues.
Francistown West legislator, Wynter Mmolotsi called on Dithapo to retain staff members whose contracts have expired when there are openings.
Committee members had lamented delays of projects amongst them Botswana Speaks, which could have long been completed.
This is concerning the project, which entails having officers at the constituency office to help community members participate in Parliament. Dithapo said Botswana Speaks has already employed officers in all constituency offices. She said the tender was not done and has been delayed in the financial year because it could not go on before the consultation and briefing of Members of Parliament.