The leader of Alliance for Progressives (AP) Ndaba Gaolatlhe says the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Bill set to be presented in this current winter parliament session is far from removing extensive corruption, as the bill is not clearly presented on how it will ensure a fully clean government.
The long awaited law is set to be presented by the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Nonofo Molefhi, who also published a draft of the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Bill in the Government Gazette.
This comes after a long public uproar proposing for a law that will fight the ever mounting corruption in Botswana leading to loss of billions of Pulas in the government coffers.
Gaolatlhe while speaking at the AP Policy Address on the Declaration of Assets& Liabilities Bill on Thursday held under the topic’ How far are from clean Government?’, said the bill won’t fight or stop corruption.
However, he opines that the Bill is of great importance in fighting corruption should it contains of relevant ingredients that will crackdown on the scourge, pointing out that P 30 billion has been lost in the past 10 years. He argues that the Bill doesn’t offer enough means in quest to combat corruption as it is weak, hence being similar to the current existing tools set to fight corruption citing the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).
“The contents of the bill as proposed don’t present it as strong weapon that will fully eliminate corruption. I see the bill as a tailored wealth monitoring tool and it doesn’t pass the test of ensuring harsh punishment for those accused of corruption,” he regretted.
Doubts over DCEC
In addition, Gaolathe also said DCEC as the earmarked custodian or administrator of the bill, this he said remains a fallacy over the true success of the bill owing to the lack of DCEC independence at the moment.
He indicated that with the DCEC still operating in its current legislative setting under the full control of the executive arm, and then the bill will deliver very little of what is envisioned for.
AP president is of the view that for the bill to be more effective, there should be guaranteed full independence of vital oversight bodies such as Attorney General and Office of the Ombudsman. “This country needs a complete overhaul of its checks and balances systems because at the moment they are dormant. For us a country, to bring about a culture of cleans government we must have in place full independent oversight bodies,” he emphasised.
Ethics Integrity Commission
Gaolatlhe stipulates that there is a need for the Bill to establish an independent body of Ethics and Integrity Commission, which he proposes under the AP, led government.
The setting up of the institution he says will be crucial in ensuring that every person without favour is complying with the requirements of declaring their assets and liabilities without any ambiguity behind. Moreover, he said amongst others the body through the Commissioner will play advisory role on ethics and integrity matters to the President, Cabinet, and MPs adding that the commission will also provide guidance on what really constitutes conflict of interest and what not.