Botswana: Oversight Crucial

Gaborone — Oversight is important in holding the executive accountable for its actions and for ensuring that policies are implemented in accordance with the laws and budget passed by Parliament.

Speaker of National Assembly, Mr Phandu Skelemani said this when addressing a week-long parliamentary workshop in the form of a webinar which commenced in Gaborone yesterday.

"Robust monitoring of the executive by Parliament is an indicator of good governance," he said.

Mr Skelemani has called on MPs to ensure that the administration of public policy reflected and met the people's needs and wishes.

"It is upon you to ensure a balance of power and assert your role as the defender of people's interests," he said.

Uderscoring the importance of the oversight function of Parliament, Mr Skelemani said it improved transparency of governance operations and enhanced public trust in government

He said Parliament's commitment to its oversight role enhanced public confidence in the institution.

Mr Skelemani said modern Parliament was expected to embrace the role of oversight that had become synonymous with modern parliamentary democracies adding that "it presupposes that someone assumes watchdog role and another has to account".

Parliament, he said, assisted in identifying problems and policy challenges that required attention and assisted with overcoming bureaucratic inertia.

He encouraged them to make use of tools of trade being the Constitution, the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act and Standing Orders.

"You will be conducting oversight through parliamentary questions committee examinations and public hearings, creation of special enquiry committees, among others," he said.

Further, Mr Skelemani implored MPs to adhere to the established code of conduct, transparency of parliamentary spending, compliance with legal requirements, ethics and good practice standards regarding conflict of interest.

He also urged legislators to be sufficiently equipped to execute oversight mandate.

With about 75 per cent of members serving first term as elected representatives at Parliament level, the week-long workshop, which commenced yesterday, will among others drill MPs on the functions of parliamentary committees.

Legislators will also deliberate on best practices, principles and tools of parliamentary oversight.

Clerk of the National Assembly, Ms Barbara Dithapo said the webinar was the third in a series of long term capacity building initiatives for MPs.

She said its main aim was to build members' capacity with a view to capacitate them to carry out their oversight role effectively.

It will also strengthen parliamentary oversight, particularly in enhancing the understanding of tools for effective oversight, monitoring and evaluation and public participation in committee work.

In addition, the workshop is aimed at supporting the design and implementation of key institutional reforms such as e-Petitions and the establishment of a parliamentary public participation system which leverages on ICTs.

Ms Dithapo said the workshop was supposed to have been held in April before commencement of committee work but had to be deferred due to COVID-19 outbreak.

The subsequent regulations led to yet another postponement of the workshop planned June 15- 19.

Source : BOPA

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