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We have bust corruption - Khama

Publishing Date : 08 January, 2018

Author : REARABILWE RAMAPHANE

Despite the national uproar of alleged corruption and embezzlement of public funds, President Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian has said when he steps down next year March; he will leave behind a government that is totally against corruption and maladministration.


The outgoing president stated this view when delivering a key note address at the United Nations International Anti Corruption Day commemoration in Gaborone recently.  Although his government has been heavily criticized for embezzlement of taxpayer’s money, nepotistic procurement and high profile corruption, President Khama has said Botswana has made great strides towards combating corruption.


He told attendants that amongst the achievement were “the high prosecution rate, as well as continuous anti-corruption awareness and prevention programmes for public officers and the general public.” According to the President it is worth celebrating that Botswana has consistently been ranked for the last two decades as the least corrupt country in Africa by the global coalition against corruption; Transparency International (TI) . “We are also ahead of most developed countries in this index as No. 35 in the world out of 176 assessed countries in this regard.”


Khama said his government has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that it has a speedy reaction towards combating corruption. “As further demonstration of my country’s political will for the fight against corruption, in 2013 the Government of Botswana established a Corruption Court to speed up cases of corruption,” he said.  He added that the Directorate on Corruption & Economic Crime (DCEC) was a critical stakeholder of the Criminal Justice Forum, which ensures efficiency and effectiveness in the country’s criminal justice system.


The DCEC, the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA), the Competition Authority (CA) and the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) are mainly labelled toothless by critics; but that notwithstanding, the institutions remain President Khama’s pride, as according to him they are some of the contributing factors towards the good governance and accolades Botswana  receive in that respect. “Other countries continue to see Botswana as a good example in the fight against corruption, especially in the sub-Saharan region.


The president said this was evidenced by among others; states continued benchmarking trips to Botswana. “Additionally, some of our immediate, as well as near neighbours have visited Botswana’s public institutions and Law Enforcement Agencies. During these visits, significant time has also been spent at our anti-corruption Agency to get insight into the country’s strategy on anti-corruption,” he said.


However, President Khama also acknowledged that corruption existed and was a cause for concern. “Corruption also exists in the employment sector where positions for employment are secured through unscrupulous means. The construction sector is another area of concern for corruption. In this sector, there is an emerging trend whereby some government project-implementing officials connive with contractors to swindle government millions of Pula through approval of inflated claims and sub-standard work.”


Khama observed that corruption distorted equitable allocation of vital services to citizens, and the poor and other vulnerable people felt the brunt the most. “These groups are more reliant on public services and if officials solicit bribes from them in order to assist them, it means they can never enjoy the public services meant for all. If left unchecked, corruption can slowly bring the economy to its knees, and eventually lead to social inequality and exclusion.”   


Meanwhile, critics have labelled Khama‘s administration as the most corrupt regime in the history of Botswana. His corruption busting schemes, it has been agued only target low ranking public officers, while high ranking officials get away with multi million pula corrupt deals.
There has been constant call for the review of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) which has been labelled a notorious and rogue institution.


Dr Phenyo Butale Gaborone Central legislator observed at a policy discussion at a different forum that the DIS was given a black cheque “we should address the DIS before it messes up our fiscals and lend us into economic crises, millions are pumped into this organization without account and monitoring,” he said.  


The DIS has been accused of smuggling of high profile drugs, illegal trading of diamonds, extra judicial killings as per media reports, although the agency has hence since rubbished all the accusations as malicious and unsubstantial. When appearing before the parliament committee on statutory bodies & public enterprise in previous sittings Director General of the DIS Colonel Isaac Kgosi usually avoids commentary on issues levelled against his organization on the basis of security reasons. “We are an intelligence services agency, our operations and expenditures remains highly classified,” Kgosi was quoted as saying on numerous occasions.


Further, speaking in an interview with WeekendPost this week Dr Butale cried foul over oversight institutions that he labelled toothless and incapacitated. He cited parliament which he highlighted lacked resources and autonomy to carry out its oversight role. “If you look at the three branches of government, the separation of power is just theoretical.


The judiciary is captured by the executive, DCEC, Ombudsman, and other anti corruption institutions are engulfed by the office of the President, and they are not independent in carrying their mandate,” he highlighted.He said that parliament which heads the legislature and makes laws had no budget and no research capacity. He argued Botswana needed to restructure oversight institutions and give them clear autonomous mandates.

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