At the end of the day we all have to agree that the ongoing enquiry by the Public Accounts Committee has been helpful in many ways. In our disagreements on how the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services should conduct or should not conducts its purchases we all have to agree that what the inquiry is doing or has done is to open our eyes first to the many assumptions we have been carrying in our expectations away from the law. But the PAC has also helped us to look deep and in scrutiny of its intended purpose and its actual purpose, or the lack of its members to its supposed role.
In particular, the line of questioning by Honourable Mephato Reatile and Honourable Ndaba Gaolathe to Colonel Isaac Kgosi have brought the issue to perspective. Though the line of questioning was not what seem to be what we have expected to reveal, we have been given the first instance of a reminder that issues of national security, in relation to the cushion of law through all such acts of parliament including the DISS Act are not only a creation of Parliament and that Parliament has constrained itself. Though Honourable Dithapelo Keorapetse sounded and appeared seemingly distraught, he also in one way or another helped the understanding. Less excitement to appear robust when he is just ordinary could have been more meaningful on his part. He has rather become virulent to the enquiry itself.
We all have to also keep in mind that at first instance when DISS Director was summoned before the PAC, the enquiry had to adjourn because it could not form a quorum. It could not form a quorum because Honourable Shawn Ntlhaile, assuming that he remains fit and relevant to be referred to as honourable. Ntlhaile, for one reason or the other, decide to collapse such a quorum. This is important to point out as it presents an opportunity for all of us to identify those who really view the current National Petroleum Fund saga as worthy of national concern. And those who view it as another opportunity to register a seating allowance and walk out to attend to, in their minds and souls, more pressing and important matters than the current impasse. We must keep these issues in mind for they help us identify those concerned and those reducing PAC inquiry and the PAC itself as nothing but an endless and monotonous joke. A parliamentary committee and the nation had to adjourn because Ntlhaile decided so.
Coming back to the issue, it is becoming clear that the decision to opt for this enquiry whilst the matter is before the courts was ill advised. What we also learn is that no one, including the Attorney General is sure of what is going on or what has to go on. The Auditor General is also equally present in body form and absent in thought nor participation. It’s a fumble after a fumble by members of the PAC to justify some dominion on knowledge of the matter at hand. As for the Members of PAC, it has become an opportunity for them to try shine in a line of questioning that shall not bear any fruits. The gain and game is seemingly only seating allowances and some empty, yet long report that no one shall be bothered to read. As is always the case. At the end of the day, PAC is simply spending more public funds unnecessarily.
As fate will have it, the repartees of Colonel Kgosi have not only maintained a legal and sound line, the replies have brought into question the technical knowhow of the PAC. Colonel Kgosi posits in his accidental or designed rasping that he is not refusing to answer. But that he is constrained that the issues and questions being raised are those of matters before the courts. Scabrous and unpleasant as this sounds and as we might not want to hear, it is a master stroke. It is vivid in my memory that upon being read a section from the Act regulating the National Assembly and its committees, Colonel Kgosi reminded Honourable Keorapetse that Acts of Parliament rank the same in quality and breath and that the DISS Act is equal to the Act that the PAC is referring to. We all have to agree that Colonel Kgosi is not only right but he is also hinting the possibility of a long, untidy legal battle to interpret which Act is superior. This will then have to be resolved by the interpretation or in the failure of such, it will and can only be ratified by Parliament and the effect will be permanently allowed to be. We will all have no one to blame but PAC.
We all have to agree that this is not where we wanted to arrive upon nodding to the current enquiry. We all simply wanted the truth. But the information is being constrained by a matter before the courts. But we also need to all agree that in the event of questions which could have been easily answered, we were all failed by some members of the PAC who have reduced this enquiry, inclusive of PAC, to nothing but a long monotonous joke. The line of questioning by Honourable Mephato Reatile and Honourable Ndaba Gaolathe did at one point bring back the questioning and answers close to information disseminating, but the excitement of Honourable Dithapelo Keorapetse, seeming to behave like a youth league leader, derailed the process altogether. We must say these things so that in the future the anomalies are corrected. We all need to agree that PAC needs first to agree on what exactly it wants from the process. They seem lost. And if indeed they are lost, then the process is lost and so are we all as a nation.
Marcus Otsile Bafitile
Selibe Phikwe West