The Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Mokgweetsi Masisi on Wednesday dismally failed to discredit the controversial report on the disastrous dealings between Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) and the Shanghai Fengyue Glass Company.
Masisi suffered the humiliating defeat when the Speaker of Parliament, Margaret Nasha ordered him to withdraw a statement in which he was cautioning members of the house to desist from authenticating the report before the allegations raised in the report were settled through courts of laws.
Masisi made a statement to the effect that the Parliament select committee, which made investigations on the Palapye glass project should have not made the report public because it could compromise investigations by the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).
The report which was tabled in Parliament two weeks ago and subsequently became a public document, alleges corrupt practices by senior government officers including the current Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Mathambo.
“We are quite familiar with the rules governing the tabling of reports in this house and the rules that govern the handling of reports. However the motive behind the statement is born out of what plays out in the media, which could only come out of this report. This statement was really to caution, to remind, to warn, to urge those who are the bearers of authority or have the privilege of the information to exercise that restraint in the event that the media may have found a way of getting it (report) by some means,” Masisi further complained.
Other Members of Parliament (MPs) responded with anger and disappointment at Masisi’s statement and asked him to withdraw it.
“Once a paper has been tabled in Parliament it becomes a public document. When you table a bill for first reading it becomes a public document. So what privileged information are you complaining about? “asked the Gaborone Central MP, Dumelang Saleshando.
He even directed the question to the Speaker who in turn confirmed that indeed it was true that once a document is tabled in Parliament it becomes a public document and in fact the property of Parliament.
Nasha further told Masisi that had she known that he intended to bring such as statement to Parliament she would have advised him earlier to take it to an appropriate forum outside the open Parliament seating.
Another Legislator, Pono Moatlhodi of Tonota South who is also a deputy Speaker in the house expressed shock at Masisi’s statement.
“Does the Minister say he is coming to warn us as Members of Parliament? I want to hear it well. He is coming to warn us! Are we his students?” Moatlhodi asked.
In response Masisi said that the manner in which he used the warning word was in no way derogatory, but rather a reminder.