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Least Corrupt in Africa but more needs to be done

Publishing Date : 27 February, 2018

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Transparency International (TI) has once again ranked Botswana as the least corrupt country in the Africa and 34th in the world in the recent Corruption Perception Index 2017.

What is assuring is the fact that we have managed to maintain our status as the least corrupt in Africa, but what is worrying is the verity that, we belong to a region of which has the most corrupt in the world, the Sub-Saharan region.   This essentially means as far as the rating is concerned; we are a case of a one-eyed king among the blind.

Perhaps time has come not to celebrate being the best in Africa, and go for the least corrupt in the world. Celebrating being the least in Africa is basically celebrating mediocrity. There are still nations, 33 of them to be precise which fared and continue to fare better than us. If we do not change a lot of things, we are going to remain where we are— being the best in Africa, not the world.

Fighting corruption is not an issue that necessarily needs money to do, but an issue that deals mainly with governance system, accountability as well as creating a new value system for our society. What will take for us to have a clean and effective government is merely a political will. That’s all.

As the index indicates, countries with dictatorial and quasi-dictatorial governments, which deride journalist and the civil society for speaking against corruption, are the most corrupt. Sub-Saharan region is dominated by dictators and constitutional delinquents who refuse to leave power. By African standards, Botswana is impeccable.  

There is a need to strengthen our key oversight institutions if we aspire to be ranked among the best. Institutions such as Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), Ombudsman as well as parliament itself need strengthening. South Africa, a relatively young democracy has more progressive constitution with resilient and independent oversight institutions. We may be ranked ahead of them, but there is a lot that we can learn from them. There Public Protector (equivalent of Ombudsman) is appointed by parliament on 8 year fixed term. During their tenure, they are free to do their job without worrying about keeping their job. It is something that we should look into.

The findings and the recommendations of the Public Protector in South Africa are legally binding, which is not the case here. One may as well question the very existence of the Ombudsman if the office’s findings have got no legal enforcement. With the DCEC, it is necessary for it to report directly to parliament, contrary to the office of the president as it is the case. We should know that the office of the President, itself can be corrupt since it is also a public office. How do we deal with corruption from the highest land in office if the same office is the appointing authority?

There is a need also to deal with the accountability if Directorate on Intelligence Security Services (DISS), as the organisation has become key feature in almost each and every corruption scandal in the country. The institution has become a conduit for corruption, and for years now, it has continued to look untouchable. This is a bad omen for a country of our standing.

Corruption can also not end by demanding its end, but through our own efforts including the people we elect to serve in public office. We should look for competence as well as integrity in people we elect to serve in our polity. Corruption is a huge cost to any economy, especially in public procurement was tenders are not awarded to the most deserving companies but to those who are linked to the decision makers.

Transparency International also recognise that at the centre of corruption free government, is the free media. It encourages that Governments and businesses must do more to encourage free speech, independent media, political dissent and an open and engaged civil society.

Other recommendation is that Governments should minimise regulations on media, including traditional and new media, and ensure that journalists can work without fear of repression or violence. Laws such as Media Practitioners Act, would definitely not help advance the case for a corruption free government.

Transparency international also noted that the civil society and governments should promote laws that focus on access to information. This access helps enhance transparency and accountability while reducing opportunities for corruption. It is important, however, for governments to not only invest in an appropriate legal framework for such laws, but also commit to their implementation.



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