Botswana: Parly Committee Adjourns

The Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and Enterprises (PCSBE) suffered a major setback this week when it was forced to adjourn examining state entities due to lack of a required number of members to continue with proceedings.

PCSBE found itself grappling with a quorum problem making it difficult for the body led by Gabane-Mmankgodi MP Pius Mokgware to continue with the examination process in the stipulated time frame. Mokgware is currently leading the committee on interim basis serving as the Acting Chairman. Examination session was set to run from the 22nd to 29th of May with some institutions such as Bank of Botswana (BOB), Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) and Botswana Railways appearing before the committee amongst others.

The delays come after some of its members, Setlhomo Lelatisitswe and Karabo Gare, were promoted to cabinet as junior ministers. Newly elected Moshupa lawmaker Gare was promoted as the assistant minister of trade while Lelatisitswe became assistant minister of health and wellness following the latest cabinet reshuffle by President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Committee chairman and Tati East MP Guma Moyo left the country in self-imposed exile in March 2019 claiming assassination threats.

Two institutions being University of Botswana (UB) and Non-Bank Financial Institutions and Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) were set to appear before the committee on Tuesday before the postponement of the session to June 18.

In an interview with the Acting Chairperson of the committee, Pius Mokgware said the committee had no choice bu to suspend the hearings due to failure to form quorum as per the parliament standing orders. He said the committee faced a challenge by losing some of its members to the cabinet while some of the remaining members were held in other parliamentary duties at the time of the session. "I am not discouraged at all for interruption this week because we had a smooth one last week. The quorum was enough despite losing some of our committee members. Dr Phenyo Butale who was present last had an emergency to engage in other parliamentary duties outside the country this week hence the reason why the committee suffered," Mokgware explained.

Dr Butale was attending the Pan African parliament session in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where the parliament budget was presented. Mangole was also representing Parliament abroad.

Mokgware said only three members were present being him, Ndaba Gaolatlhe and Specially Elected MP Mephato Reatile. They could not proceed as the standing order stipulate that a minimu of four members are needed to form a quorum.

Mokgware dismissed claims that the committee was not prepared to conduct the hearing session as per some assertions due to the fact that session did not progress as planned.

"Under the parliament's strict procedural rules that committee baeres in mind, the entire schedule for the committee had to be abandoned or interrupted because a quorum was not obtained for now," he said, adding that he is optimistic that the examination will be finalised in time for the committee to present their report to the upcoming July session of Parliament.

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