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Is Botswana becoming more corrupt?

Publishing Date : 19 December, 2017

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

Recently, there has been troubling reports of corruption, with allegations that some in power and those close to power are involved in corrupt practices which have regrettably resulted in the looting of the public coffers.

It is common cause that some of these incidents have resulted in court proceedings and such cases are still pending before the courts. In deference to the sub judicae rule, we shall not refer to such cases or any case pending before the courts. Rather, what we shall do is to consider Botswana’s corruption ratings in comparison to other countries the world over. In doing this, we hope statistics will either approve or disprove the growing perception that Botswana is becoming more corrupt.

In this exercise, we shall rely on the report provided by Transparency International through its 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index. The results therefrom are in respect of the period between 2006 and 2016 and they involve 176 countries, including Botswana. The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. A country or territory's rank indicates its position relative to the other countries and territories in the index.

According to the report, which was last updated this month, Botswana’s corruption ranking averaged 30.68 from 1998 until 2016, reaching an all-time high of 38 in 2007 and a record low of 23 in 1998. Perhaps the reason why Botswana’s corruption ranking reached an all-time high of 38 in 2007 is because of the world economic meltdown which saw Botswana, like many other countries, experiencing financial doldrums which may have pushed some to resort to corrupt practices.  

Botswana ranked at positions 38, 36, 37, 33, 32, 30, 30, 31, 28 and 35 for the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively. Denmark is the least corrupt country whose last and previous ranking was position 1. While its highest ranking has been position 4 its lowest ranking has been position 1. Our neighbor, Zambia, is the average performing country in terms of corruption rankings. While its last ranking was position 87 its previous ranking was position 76. Its highest ranking is position 123 while its lowest ranking is position 52.

At almost the same position as South Sudan, Somalia is the most corrupt country whose last ranking was position 176 while its previous ranking was position 163. Its highest ranking is position 175 while its lowest ranking is position 163. Related to the Corruption Ranking is Botswana’s Corruption Index whose unit of measure is points. Botswana’s last corruption index was 60.00 with its previous corruption index having been 63.00 points. While Botswana’s highest corruption index was 65.00 its lowest corruption index was 54.00.

No doubt, Botswana’s corruption index and ranking have affected other indicators which are cardinal to its economic and political outlook. These are, inter alia, competitiveness index, competitiveness ranking and business confidence. While Botswana’s last competitiveness index was 4.30 its previous competitiveness index is 4.29. Botswana’s highest competitiveness index is 4.30 with its lowest being 3.96.

Botswana’s last competitiveness ranking was position 63 while its previous competitiveness ranking was position 64. Botswana’s highest competitiveness ranking has been position 80 while its lowest competitiveness ranking is position 56. Botswana’s last business confidence was 48% while its previous business confidence was 43%. The highest Botswana has ever scored in business confidence is 82% while its lowest score is an abysmal 28%.           

What is even more worrisome is the fact that Botswana’s corruption ranking is projected to worsen. Botswana’s Corruption Rank is expected to be 33.00 by the end of this quarter, according to Trading Economics global macro models and analysts’ expectations. In the long-term, the Botswana Corruption Rank is projected to trend around 33.00 in 2020, according to Trading Economics econometric models. This, despite the preventative campaigns that have been waged by such entities as the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).

Some have argued that the reason why corruption is not in the decline in Botswana is that the DCEC, because of political control, is hindered in its efforts to fight corruption in relation to those in power and close to power. Rather, the DCEC has dealt with the ‘small fish’ whose prosecution, though important in the overall fight against corruption and economic crime, makes very little difference in the wider scheme of things.

They have cited the sudden redeployment of the former DCEC Director General, Rose Seretse, and her replacement by former Botswana Police Service’s Deputy Commissioner (Support Services), Victor Paledi, whom some claim is closer to power. It ought to be stated that the claim in relation to Paledi has not been substantiated by facts. They have also cited the disbanding of DCEC’s Special Investigation and Intelligence Unit which they claim has weakened the DCEC’s investigative prowess. They also claim that this negatively affected high level pending investigation involving senior government officials, politicians and politically connected individuals.

According to these people the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) has been used to obstruct DCEC’s investigations, especially when they involve senior government officials, politicians and politically connected individuals. Back to the question whether or not Botswana is becoming more corrupt?  From 2006 to 2015 there was a steady decline in corruption, but in 2016 it rose back to the 2007 era. This may not be enough to make any conclusions because it entails only one year.

It ought to be stated that this decline in corruption, albeit modest, occurred during President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s tenure. For this he ought to be commended for the decline was in part because of his efforts. Though some say he did not put emphasis on the fight against corruption and economic crime in the latter years of his presidency, it is common course that he did at the beginning of his term and more so when he was Vice President.

Yet, his legacy will forever be tainted by the perception that he failed to reign on the corruption by the ‘big fish’, whom some claim are his associates. His legacy will also be tainted by the perception that he allowed the DISS’s usurpation of the powers of the DCEC to protect his associates. It ought to be stated that these allegations have not been substantiated by facts.

But, the fact that we regressed, especially in 2016 when we were marking not only fifty years of independence, but also the fruition of Vision 2016 and the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals is disconcerting. This decline cannot be excused by the argument that other countries are improving because that will effectively mean that we are becoming worse. In other words, we are becoming more corrupt as a nation.

It is vices like corruption which ultimately put a country’s peace and stability in jeopardy. And we, the beacon of democracy and peace and stability not only in Africa, but also in the world, cannot afford such a taint in our image, just because of a few individuals’ insatiable desire for wealth. It is such vices as corruption which destroy a country’s economy as has happened to such countries as Zimbabwe, Libya, Somalia and Yemen which are, for all intents and purposes, failed states, many of which have been ravaged by civil war or strife.

As far-fetched as it may seem, Botswana may fall from grace and join the league of failed nations, which are mostly in Africa, just because of this cancer called corruption if we do not reprioritize the fight against corruption and economic crime. So, one can answer the question whether or not Botswana is becoming more corrupt in the affirmative because we fell from position 28 in 2015 to position 35 in 2016. In a period of only one year we fell by seven points.

In fact, the situation could be worse than it is because our current ratings have not taken the corruption in the private sector and parastatal organisations into consideration. Yet, you and I know that corruption is rife in parastatal organisations and private companies where government is a shareholder.



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