The Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi and Gabane Mmankgodi Member of Parliament Pius Mokgware clashed in parliament on Friday, in a conflict which saw the two exchanging unpalatable words a few times provoking interjections from the house not once but several times. At the centre of it was what the Gabane/Mmankgodi MP termed a habit by the minister to take the house for granted by giving unsatisfactory answers or choosing to ignore some questions addressed to his ministry by Members of Parliament. The Minister had failed to explain some questions regarding the Botswana Police Service purchase of BTCL shares to the value of P27 million for its employees. Which among others included a question by Okavango MP Bagalatia Arone who wanted to know the administrators of the Botswana Police Savings and loans Guarantee Scheme funds and if they are any regular audits done and who the auditors are. The Minister of Trade and Industry Vincent Seretse (though he later withdrew) also asked Kgathi if he does not find it prudent that the funds of that magnitude could be placed under the care of asset managers.
Kgathi responded by indicating that he was not in a position to say but nonetheless said it was obvious that the police authorities ought to have taken the necessary steps and procedures to manage the funds. The Gabane/ Mmankgodi however felt that, this was not answer enough and that as the Minister responsible for police he should be in a position to answer all inquiries directed to him by everybody ‘satisfaction. Kgathi retaliated by telling off Mokgware, referring to the latter’s remarks as irresponsible and provoking. According to Kgathi it was unfair that his decision not to give answers that he could not verify was deemed negligence of duty and taking people for granted. “I will not stand this kind of abuse anymore, I know how to do my job,” Kgathi charged. Despite interjections by the Deputy Speaker and other Members of Parliament, calling the two to order, the two legislators continued exchanging salvos which ended with the two now firing personal attacks at each other two’s personal lives. “If you say I was fired, I am better off because I have never been reprimanded for harassing other people’s wives,” Mokgware said
Meanwhile when responding to Arone’s initial question on details of how Botswana Police Service acquired the shares for its employees, Kgathi explained that Botswana Police Service established a welfare scheme in 1999 entitled “Botswana Police Savings and Loans Guarantee Scheme” which was constituted under Regulation 68 of the Police Act. According to Kgathi, the objective of the scheme, which is open to all police officers, is to promote savings and investment amongst members for the future benefit. “Through this scheme, officers are also able to access personal and home loans at negotiated lending rates from identified financial institutions to finance quality of life improvements projects,” said Kgathi. He explained that members make monthly contributions deducted from their monthly earnings, and such contributions are invested with different financial institutions. Upon termination according to the minister, a member is entitled to his/her monthly savings plus accrued interest on his/her investment as per the scheme’s guidelines.
According to the Minister, following the Public Offering of BTCL shares, members were encouraged to purchase shares using part of their accumulated savings as an investment portfolio. This he says was considered a viable investment and wealth diversification opportunity for members of the Botswana Police Service because the savings are currently held in a call account which earns a small interest. “As at 25th February 2016, the Botswana Police had facilitated the purchase of over P30 million worth of BTCL shares for members of Botswana Police Service. It is expected that each member will individually and collectively enjoy the shares dividends paid out on regular basis, and hopefully use such earnings to improve their personal and family welfare,” he said.
Although Kgathi had wanted to indicate that all members of Botswana Police who have decided to be part of the transaction were happy and excited about it, the Member of Parliament for Maun West Tawana Moremi objected and said unless the purchase was made by Botswana Police Service on its behalf, the Minister has no right and powers to speak on their behalf. “ Unless you have a cousin who is a police officer and has revealed how they fell about the purchase of the BTCL shares to you, you cannot come here and claim to know how all police officers feel about the transaction,” Moremi said.