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Corruption is bleeding our national coffers

Publishing Date : 06 March, 2018

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The recent financial and corruption scandals that have rocked our country indicate that it is time for us to examine our fiscal policies and see where our system is leaking. We are aware that corruption cannot be defeated by water tight systems alone, but we also need to have leaders who possess the right values.

We are now used to political leaders, occupying public offices telling us the extent to which they are prepared to fight corruption yet their actions and character exhibit nothing close to what they have promised. The fight against corruption needs more than just rhetoric. We must have leaders who back up their words with action.

Recently we have seen shocking revelations in which public funds, in billions of pula end up lining the pockets of certain individuals who are in power or close to power. The causality of how the money ended in those individuals remains a kick in the teeth for a country known for prudent management of its own resources.

Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who will be sworn in as the country’s fifth president should demonstrate a clear intent to fight corruption in all its manifestations. For him do it right, he must to relieve some of the senior public officers of their duties in the public service. It is clear, most senior public officers are the architects of the corruption that we see today, and they even continue to perpetuate it.

The senior public officers, who are drunk with power, and think they own government machinery, should be dealt with. The same should be done to ministers who conspire with their permanent secretaries to siphon money from government coffers. We have seen quite a number of ministers who accumulated amazing level of wealth within a short period of time. If we had a rigid system, which has provision such as declaration of assets, lifestyle audits among others mechanisms, most of the public officers and ministers would have a difficult time explaining how they accumulated their wealth.

Integrity among our public representatives and senior public servants leaves a lot to be desired. Most of them use their positions as an opportunity to loot public coffers through their dissipatedly designed prowling system. Some of them have occupied these higher positions for so long that they mistaken their national duty for personal service.  It also seems like they enjoy the support of their political masters in their dealings. We rarely act against corrupt senior figures. We rather protect them.

Personalising government offices happens in various platforms. This is either through porous tender systems or appointment of key personnel in public institutions and other quasi-government organisations. Appointment to public office is no longer based on merit, but with a clear specific made to serve the corrupt interest of appointing masters.

With every penny that we lose, ordinary citizens, the less privileged, the marginalised and others who depend on social grants pay a price for that. This is because most of this money that is lost to corruption is lost to the people who steal not because they are starving, but because of they are greedy.

It is this greed that is destroying our governance system. It is greed that is going unpunished every single day. It is those who are paid the most, who loot the most. The irony of which, they do not have to pay the price for it. Every time we lost millions of pula, some innocent children in other parts of the country are studying under a tree, with no textbooks and other learning materials. If we were to think about this, we will do things differently. Corruption is an evil deed, and should not be allowed to define our public service.

Corruption has become widespread to an extent that we are now helpless in the face of it. It is clear this corruption is a product of our own actions as government. The fact that heads rarely roll is evident of the fact that government machinery is accomplice to this corruption scandals. The levies and funds, managed either independently by government have become the looting hub. Everyone is having field day, and looks like it has been ongoing for some time.

We cannot rely on the institutions that we have to fight corruption, but on new leaders determined to fight corruption. If Masisi is to fight it, he will need to re-arrange his furniture in the public service; it will be a good start. We are too relaxed because of falsified information fed to the Transparency International and other indexes on corruption.



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