Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi has cautioned the judiciary over an ongoing “pattern” of unspent money being returned to government coffers every financial year.
When officially opening the recent 2016 Stakeholders Resources Conference, Kgathi told all the stakeholders of the judicial system that they should interrogate why money was returned unspent amid cries of inadequate funding of the judiciary.
“During NDP 10, the expenditure trends for the judiciary reveal that between 60% and 70 % of approved funds were utilized. This is commendable. Of concern, though is a pattern of unspent money being returned at the end of each financial year. We are all mindful of dire implications of underutilized funds for the development of our nation and people,” he said.
Kgathi’s assertions were however contradicted by Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo who said the judiciary was not funded adequately. When giving welcome remarks before Kgathi took to the podium, Dibotelo decried lack of resources and facilities in the justice system saying, “We experience these situations with regular frequency particularly towards the end of each financial year and in the public arena the blame lies not with the key stakeholders or even government but with the courts, that is, the judiciary.”
He said the judiciary often takes stick while the government and other key stakeholders remain un-scrutinized. “There will be insinuations that the Administration of Justice failed to budget whereas our estimates would have been cut or rejected on account of the rigid set ceiling,” said Dibotelo in remarks that seemed to pour water on the minister’s statement that there was poor budgeting and misappropriation of funds within the judiciary.
The Chief Justice said their financial expenditure on the recurrent budget for the past five years (2011/12 to 2015/16) reveal that the approved budget has always been inadequate compared to the actual expenditure.
The fat chunk of the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security 2016 recurrent budget went to the BDF, Botswana Police, and Botswana Prison Services. These departments or institutions got 13.4 percent of the proposed P4.95 billion budget referred to as “operational costs.” The same ministry bought expensive spy equipments and military hardware which took P3.59 billion or 24.2 percent of the development budget.
The P254 575 600 of recurrent budget and P101, 332,744 of development budget proposed for the Administration of Justice(Judiciary) in the same financial year (2016/17) is a far cry to the billions proposed for military hardware and surveillance equipment by Kgathi earlier this year. This money was for the construction of boundary walls for Mahalapye magistrates’ houses, Kanye Magistrate Court as well as extension of Broadhurst Magistrate Court.