- DISS had requested an extra P15.5 million
- Parliament approves the supplementary budget
Gaborone Bonnington-South MP Ndaba Gaolathe has advised parliament to consider a specialized audit of security organs like the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS).
Gaolatlhe who was commenting on the report by Minister Nonofo Molefhi on supplementary expenditure, advised parliament to consider benchmarking internationally on how they can ensure accountability and transparency without compromising the security of the nation.
“I just wanted to bring to your attention that there are actually international benchmarks for auditing specialised security institutions like DISS. These benchmarks are actually entrenched in the laws that establish these institutions,” he said, arguing that it was impossible to provide such an audit in Botswana as there was no legal provision for a specialized panel advising the undertaking.
According to Molefhi who was presenting the report on behalf of Finance Minister Kenneth Matambo, DISS needed P15.5 million to “augment funds in this vote which fell short due to the continuous running of security platforms during the Bot50 celebrations, the service for these systems are hour-based.”
Bonnington North MP and Leader of Opposition Duma Boko who opposed recurring fund requests by DISS concurred with Gaolatlhe, saying “It is clear that we are institutionally incapacitated, the very legislation that’s sets up this institution’s firewalls ring-fences them and immunises them against proper scrutiny.”
He however warned that because people were becoming, “…conscious and litigious, very soon smart citizens will take up the issue and challenge parliament on its failure to exercise its powers in terms of section 86 of the constitution. If we do not take these things seriously we will be reminded by citizens out there of the gross irresponsibility of not taking them seriously,” he said.
He pleaded with members of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) that in the process of agreeing to the report, they should at least kick out the security organ’s request or open it to a rigorous examination so they could later tell the nation that they did their best on the issue. “There is no objective set of criteria laid out openly and publicly by which we evaluate each and every request that comes under the rubric of a supplementary item,” he told parliament.
The DISS request was also rebuffed by Environment, Conservation, Natural Resources and Tourism Minister, Tshekedi Khama, who said it sends the wrong message to the nation in terms government priorities. “What are we saying to Batswana about this scenario; that we will rather give DISS an extra P15.5 million than compensate them. I still maintain that I have a serious problem with how we prioritise things as a government and that is why I will not agree to this request by DISS,” he said after lamenting that his ministry had long requested funds for the compensation of Batswana killed by wild animals or had their properties destroyed.
The DISS request was however granted following a vote.