Whistleblowers’ Protection Bill finally reaches parley

The much-awaited Whistleblowing Bill will be presented before the third meeting of the first session of the 11th Parliament scheduled to commence in the next fortnight.

The main objective of the Bill, which has been gazetted, is to “provide for the manner in which a person may, in the public interest, disclose information adverse to the public interest; to provide for the manner of reporting and investigation of disclosures of impropriety and the protection against victimisation of persons who make the closures; and to provide for related matters”.

President Ian Khama first mentioned the Bill, during the 2009 State of the Nation Address.

The Bill, which is divided into six parts, prescribes that a whistleblower may disclose information where he or she has reasonable cause to believe that a crime or other unlawful act has been committed, is being committed or is likely to be committed. The whistleblower may also disclose information where he believes that: “Another person has failed, is failing or is likely to fail to comply with any obligation to which that person is subject to; a miscarriage of justice has occurred, is occurring or is likely to occur”.

The Bill prescribed that the whistleblower may disclose information to protect the environment; where a public officer, or former public officer performs official functions with dishonesty or with partiality.

“Where the conduct of the public officer, a former public officer or a public body amounts to misuse of information or material acquired in the cause of performance of public officer’s functions whether for the benefit of that person or public body or otherwise; the conduct of a person, whether or not a public officer amounts to maladministration, which is action or inaction of a serious nature contrary to the law, unreasonable, oppressive or discriminatory or based on improper motives,” stipulates the Bill.

However, the Bill noted that an authorised person the Auditor General may decline to investigate or may discontinue their investigation of any matter reported to them if they are of the opinion that the disclosure was made maliciously, frivolously, veraciously, in bad faith or for illegal purpose. “A disclosure of impropriety that is made solely or substantially with the motive of avoiding dismissal or other disciplinary action, not being action referred to in section 14, is not, notwithstanding any other provision of this part, a protected disclosure.”  The authorised institutions to received disclosures are the DCEC, Auditor General, Botswana Police Service, Ombudsman, Botswana Unified Revenue Service, DIS, and Financial Intelligence Agency.

The Bill prescribed that those whistleblowers who have disclosed information shall not be subjected to victimisation by their employer or by fellow employees or by any other person.

“A whistleblower shall be considered as having been subjected to victimisation if: being an employee is dismissed or suspended from work; has his post being declared redundant; is denied promotion; is harassed or intimidated by the employer or fellow employee or is subjected to a discriminatory or other adverse measure, by the employer or fellow employee,” the Bill states.

The Bill also protects the whistleblower from civil or criminal proceedings in respect of disclosure of impropriety. The same bill makes it an offence for any person to make allegation of impropriety knowing that such information is false will be fined P10,000.

It also states that: “An authorised person who willfully fails to take action upon receipt of a disclosure made to him or her, commits an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding P12,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding seven years, or both”.

Editor's Comment
DCEC, DIS wars threaten gov’t trust

This came about after the DIS agents raided and sealed the DCEC offices last week in search of files allegedly opened by the corruption bursting agency investigators against some of the DIS officers.The move prompted DCEC head, Tymon Katlholo to approach the court to seek a restraining order against the DIS, which the court duly granted through a rule nisi.The turn of events came as a shock to many, especially that the impasse involves two...

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