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‘DCEC is not strong enough to enforce assets law’

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  • Gaolathe wants declaration of assets a prerequisite for public office
  • Says DCEC is too weak to act against ministers

TLOTLO KEBINAKGABO

Declaration of assets and liabilities should become a prerequisite for serving in public office, the leader of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Ndaba Gaolathe, has said.
Gaolathe was speaking in Gaborone at a recent AP seminar on the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Bill where he took issue with the law being administered by DCEC.
The bill requires that a specific range of public officials such as heads of state, cabinet ministers and MPs declare all their financial and business interests. Gaolathe said DCEC is not sufficiently independent from the Executive to provide rigorous and unbiased assessments of anomalies in wealth.

Earlier this year, the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Nonofo Molefhi, published a draft of the bill in the Government Gazette with the aim of presenting it to the Parliament during this winter session. According to the draft bill, declarations of assets would be made to the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration by the Director General of DCEC, the Speaker of the National Assembly, and the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP).

But speaking at the seminar, Gaolathe said as administrator of such a law, the DCEC did not have what it takes to give the public a report damaging to cabinet ministers. “The law does not provide for such reports, which is a gross omission,” he said. “The law does not provide for publication of declarations in any form by the administrator. So there are serious doubts about how much more this law makes office bearers more accountable or the system more transparent.” he said.

Gaolathe said should his party win the next elections, it would make oversight institutions like DCEC more independent from the grip that the executive arm of government. “And we intend to enhance protection of whistle-blowers,” he noted. “We believe that what Botswana needs – if we are serious about a clean government – is a complete overhaul of our governance systems, including aspects relating to inclusivity and checks and balances.”

Significantly, said the AP president, declaration of assets and liabilities should be a prerequisite for serving in public office. “And the laws, as we envisage them, should cover former office bearers,” he noted. “At a minimum they should include MPs, Members of the Judiciary, councillors, CEOs and other executives of parastatals, permanent secretaries and key officers involved in procurement.”

Ndaba said to due to nepotism, bad workmanship, fraud and outright theft, Botswana had lost billions. “This quantum of money is adequate, if deployed wisely, to transform the economy of our nation and uplift the lives of many that currently wallow in poverty,” he noted.

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