Office of Ombudsman
Private Bag BR 374
RE: PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT OF MINISTERS AND SENIOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS – FORMAL COMPLAINT OF MALADMINISTRATION , CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND POSSIBLE CORRUPT PRACTICES
We further make reference to the Savingram from the Permanent Secretary to the President dated the 12th of October 2023
This complaint is lodged on behalf of Botswana National Front (“The BNF”), a registered political party in Botswana since 1965. In my capacity as a citizen Motswana, I am the second-complainant in this complaint to the Ombudsman.
The BNF is a progressive political formation which has championed many motions in parliament to uplift the welfare of the people of Botswana. As a progressive, anti-corruption political party, the BNF has a direct and material interest in the public affairs and matters of national interests. The BNF is directly affected by any maladministration and corrupt practices which has an impact in the public purse and public resources. As a Motswana, I am also directly and substantially affected by the maladministration that I complain of. Maladministration, abuse of public office and the public purse directly affects me. There are many ordinary farmers who have not been given the preferential treatment that is extended to the Cabinet Ministers, Assistant Ministers and Senior Officials who attend Cabinet.
The basis of our complaint is as follows;
Recently the Government purchased bulls from abroad at a price we consider to be overly inflated and unjustified. The procurement of the bulls was not transparent and competitive. The secretive nature of the procurement processes adopted by the Ministry of Agriculture and the officials involved is not consistent with the principles of an open and transparent democratic society;
In our considered view, public resources cannot be spent in such a secretive manner, without any clear procurement process.
On the 12th October 2023, the Permanent Secretary To The President issued a Savingram which stated in part:
“The Honourable Ministers and Assistant Ministers, as well as Senior Officials who attend Cabinet are expected to bring along own liquid nitrogen tanks ( dikane) for purposes of storing bull semen which will be sold to them at the Artificial Insermination Centre”
A copy of the Savingram dated 12th October 2023 received by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism is annexed hereunder.
This Savingram and it’s contents are problematic for the following reasons;
Ministers, Assistant Ministers and Senior Government officials are given special treatment in the sale of bull semen. Why can’t Ministers, Assistant Ministers and Senior officials all join the line just like the rest of Batswana who may want to purchase the bull semen ? Does the fact that they hold senior public offices and sit in Cabinet entitle them to the special treatment ahead of the many ordinary Batswana ?
From the PSP Savigram, it is apparent that the Government has taken a decision that on the 16th October 2023, Ministers, Assistant Ministers and senior officials who attend Cabinet will be offered and or sold bull semen. We say so because the PSP stated in the Savingram,
…*are expected* to bring along own liquid nitrogen tanks….
As the public, and indeed the BNF, we want to know where such a decision was taken that there will be a sale of bull semen during the 16th October 2023 Cabinet Meeting in Ramatlabana ?
In our understanding, the PSP may not be a member in Cabinet, but sits in its meeting in ex officio capacity. The PSP has basically taken a decision that she may stand to benefit from. This is a clear conflict of interest, abuse of public office and possible corrupt practice. Further, if the decision was taken by Cabinet, a conflict of interest also arises. Cabinet cannot take a decision which they are the intended beneficiaries.
Further, from the Savingram, Ministers, Assistant Ministers and senior officials who attend cabinet will travel to Ramatlabana at a public costs. They will use their official vehicles which are state funded. On the same trip, and whilst in the course and scope of their public office, they will engage in private interest ( the purchase of bull semen for private use) and same will be transported from Ramatlabana at the cost of the public purse. This is a classic example of abuse of public office and maladministration.
In our view, Ministers, Assistant Ministers and senior Officials who attend Cabinet must never use public office and their positions as a stepping ladder or spring board for personal enrichment and accumulation. To be given an “opportunity” by the PSP to purchase bull semen while attending a Cabinet Meeting at Ramatlabana is grossly untidy, immoral and constitute maladministration and corrupt practice.
In summary, the BNF believes in equality of all people, fairness and social justice. Just like any Motswana, if Cabinet members have an interest to buy bull semen, which is the property of the state, they must do so at their own private time and using their private resources. It cannot be done while attending a Cabinet meeting and on preferential basis.
We hereby report the conduct of the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP), Ministers , Assistant Ministers and Senior Government officials involved. We request your office to investigate this maladministration and provide an appropriate remedial action.
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