Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) factional wars are now fought in any available platform as party members go for each other’s political survival, Botswana Guardian has established.A bitter war between rival Member of Parliament for Tati East Samson Moyo Guma and Minister of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism Tshekedi Khama erupted this week Wednesday when Khama rubbished a report following examination of books of accounts for Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) governance by Committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises chaired by Guma.
The committee has in not so many words called on President Masisi to fire Khama as minister. The Committee has recommended that Masisi should take appropriate action in relation to the minister’s meddling in the affairs of BTO; that BTO be instructed to conduct a forensic audit for three-year period ending December 2017, under the direction of the Auditor General and report findings to Parliament.The report further says that Tourism (Amendment) Bill, 2017 seeks to validate a process which was done improperly, and therefore the committee recommends that the Bill be deferred pending the outcome of a detailed forensic; and the minister refrains from acting in such a manner that violates the BTO Act. Khama and Guma belonged to the same faction that supported Masisi in the build-up to Tonota Elective Congress last year where Masisi won the chairmanship of the BDP against Minister Nonofo Molefhi.
It has since emerged that the relationship between the two has soured, something which Khama came short of admitting this week after the Report was tabled in Parliament. The report was tabled by the Committee Acting Chairman Ndaba Gaolathe as Guma had indicated he could not table the Report because he is conflicted.Only Member of Parliament for Gaborone North Haskins Nkaigwa debated the motion calling for the adoption of the Report by Parliament before Khama took over and brushed aside the Report. Khama questioned the report indicating that some of the issues that were raised during the enquiry are not included in the report. “The report was initially supposed to be tabled by committee member Dr. Phenyo Butale MP for Gaborone Central and now I am surprised it is tabled by Gaolathe. The committee chairman has indicated that he is conflicted that is why he cannot table the report. I do not know if he cannot do that because the report has omitted most of the important things or because him the chairman once advised us as the ministry and BTO how we should correct some of the anomalies at BTO,” questioned Khama.
He said Guma has not explained how he is conflicted. He said Parliament has to adjourn so that Guma could clarify. He said Guma had been conflicted by giving them guidance and chairing the proceedings of the enquiry. In an interview outside parliament Khama told this publication that he was not surprised that the committee chaired by Guma would call for his reprimand. “Who is the chair of the committee? I know the committee was not in agreement with some of the recommendations. Only Guma could call for the president to take action against me.
“This is not the first time he is doing this. This is beyond governance it is a political battle. Now we are here at Parliament, where is he ene Guma? He is nowhere to be seen and he knows why he is not here tabling the report himself,” the minister stated. He said Guma could have given them guidance so as to set him a trap. Guma who is out of the country said it would be difficult to comment on what Khama has said. He indicated that he holds all members of his committee in high esteem. Guma posited that the Report as tabled is a reflection of what transpired during examination. “The copies of the proceedings and documents are annexed. I take full ownership of that report as the chairman on behalf of the members. I am told Parliament adjourned the debate on account of my absence. I will be available to Parliament to clarify any matter that needs clarity,” said Guma adding that there is no political witch-hunt on Khama.
Asked about being conflicted Guma responded, “please define to me conflict. This never arose during examination. The matter should have been raised during examination if ever there is.” Acting chairman of the Committee Gaolathe told Botswana Guardian that given the limitation of powers of the committee they only recommended according to their findings. He explained that the findings discovered breaches of governance. He said in terms of the BTO Act for about eight months BTO operated without a Board and the minister was in control. “We do not have specific powers on what must be done. What we are saying is that the president should dig deep within the executive and find out what must be done when such breaches have been committed. “It could be writing him a warning letter, suspension or firing him from cabinet. It is up to the president now to act looking at rules of governance,” said Gaolathe.
Parliament adjourned without adopting the report.
Presenting the report in Parliament Gaolathe stated that the committee in all its deliberations considers the need for viable state enterprises system. He stated that their report identifies specific actions taken at the BTO that feed “our inferences around breaches in governance, including; un-procedural establishment of the Dubai Satellite Office; unlawful instructions to the BTO to make procurement on behalf of the ministry; unlawful establishment of the Tourism Fund; unlawful restructuring of the BTO; irregular appointment of a Medical Insurance Company by BTO; improper appointment of an Attaché at the Washington, DC Embassy and unlawful termination of the Chief Executive Officer’s Contract of employment.” Gaolathe explained that their forage of information also paints a picture of a minister who has specifically, breached the dictates of the BTO Act in several ways among them failure to appoint a Board within reasonable time and going against procedural advice by Permanent Secretary and CEO.
In 2016 Khama accused Guma and his committee of conniving to hurt his political ambitions. At that time Khama had been summoned to appear for the second time before the committee to answer for his alleged maladministration at the Ministry. This was on the backdrop of developing events at troubled BTO where CEO Brian Dithebe was instructed to cut his stay at the organisation without any reasonable explanation. Dithebe’s work contract was abruptly terminated, allegedly at the instruction of Minister Tshekedi Khama.