Stir over Venson-Moitoi’s AUC campaign expenditure
Members of Parliament are expected this Thursday to discuss the budget for Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation, Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s campaign for the African Union Commission Chairmanship.
Speaker of National Assembly Gladys Kokorwe told MPs that the issue, which caused a stir in Parliament following a question by MP for Gabane-Mmankgodi Pius Mokgware on the total expenditure, would have to be discussed at the General Assembly. Mokgware had wanted Parliament to be told the total expenditure of the exercise, including travel as well as accommodation for both the first and second round of campaigns.
Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Eric Molale stated that he would not be able to say the total expenditure because government did not allocate a budget for the campaign. “Government instead took advantage of the already budgeted and pre-scheduled regional and international meetings to advance (the) campaign. So, I would not know how much was incurred,” said Molale.
The answer however did not please opposition MPs who accused Molale of evading the question. The MPs argued that the question was straight-forward and the minister cannot be finding it difficult to answer unless it was a deliberate attempt not to answer it. Molale explained that the expenditures of Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness Dikgang Makgalemele and Assistant Minister of Basic Education Moiseraele Goya were being taken care of by their respective ministries. The two ministers accompanied Venson-Moitoi on her campaigns.
He indicated that since President Ian Khama had appointed former President Festus Mogae to champion the campaign for Botswana candidate, Mogae as a Special Envoy, used the budget already allocated to his office to advance the campaign.
Kokorwe told the MPs that she would have to stop the debate on the matter and move it to another forum like the General Assembly. The speaker said that as far as she knew even MP Biggie Butale was part of the campaign and at that time he was not an assistant minister, this meaning his expenditure was not budgeted for under the ministry of Investment Trade and Industry where he is an assistant minister. Molale has also denied there was a Public Relations Company that was engaged by government for Dr. Venson-Moitoi’s campaign.