The rubberstamp that is our Parliament and oversight

This week we look at why parliament in Botswana is constrained and consequently unable to provide an adequate and effective oversight of the executive branch.

Notwithstanding the fact that the 11th Parliament is young and educated in its demographics, it finds it difficult to provide effective oversight of the executive arm. The term oversight refers to the legislature’s ability to monitor the implementation of budgets, laws, and policy decisions passed during the formulation stage. Oversight has two functions; holding the executive accountable for its actions and to see if laws and policies are working the way they were intended. Parliamentary questions, themes or minister’s questions and statements by the Leader of Opposition are usually for the purpose of providing oversight. Oversight is also provided through parliamentary committees. Some motions are also meant to fulfill the oversight function.

The rationale for parliamentary oversight is to enhance public confidence in governance; ensure equitable distribution of resources; safeguard the basic rights of members of the public and individual liberties as well as for prudent management of the taxpayers’ money. Parliament can act at two key stages of the policy process: during the formulation of budgets, decisions, laws, and policies, and in the oversight of their implementation. Parliament can initiate legislation, amend existing legislation or proposed by the executive, make changes to the budget and approve or disprove policy decisions.

Editor's Comment
Implement the recommendations Mr. President

The nation is eagerly awaiting this report to have a glimpse of what the recommendations are like, possibly for further debate. Mr. President, it’s our ardent hope that true to your promises, the public will have an opportunity to peruse the report and see if it reflects their interests as the Commission went around the length and breadth of the country collecting views of the people with some choosing to write to the Commission’s...

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