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Commission of Inquiry for Petroleum Fund probe

Publishing Date : 13 March, 2018

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The latest evidence with regard to the corrupt activities involving the use of National Petroleum Fund calls for establishment of a commission of an inquiry to comprehensively investigate the use of its money and the entire fund’s administration. We have all been waiting for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament to do some form of audit, but it appears theirs has been overtaken by events!

While there should be respect to the work the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), a commission of an inquiry will have a broader scope and give the nation a clear perspective on the conduct those involved in the scandal. Parliament will be failing its duty if does not institute the matter.

This Commission of an Inquiry will be mandated with receiving all evidence (written or oral) regarding the National Petroleum Fund transactions; examine all persons whom the commission thinks should be examined as witnesses and also to require the evidence (written or oral) of any witness to be given on oath or affirmation.

In terms of Botswana law, a commission of inquiry is instituted by president with a specific purpose.  It would be a good thing for President Ian Khama to do this as a matter of urgency before leaving office. If he fails to do so, his successor Mokgweetsi Masisi should consider it his first assignment, given the fact that his ascendancy will be marred by this scandal.

This is not helped by the fact that, his name too is mentioned not in good terms as among the beneficiaries of proceeds of crime.  Masisi should start on a clean slate or risk being considered a corrupt president. This is more so that the alleged benefit that he received from the National Petroleum Fund has been used to help to propel him to power. This is so because the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) 2017 Tonota Congress, with all intent and purposes, was a succession battle for the the ruling party, which Masisi won.

 One of the reasons advanced by those who were defeated by Masisi and his team is that his moneyed campaign was the real factor that changed the playing field altogether. Until his name is cleared, which the Commission of Inquiry can do, his succession to the presidency is could be foggy. Owing to what is happening now, Botswana deserves a leader with unquestionable moral integrity. We need leaders who cannot take advantage of their proximity to power to enrich themselves.

That is why like never before, we need mechanisms that will ensure that our governance system is transparent. With transparency, leaders can make mistakes, but it will be honest mistakes seen by everybody. Same with declaration of assets law, we need to know what assets our leaders have, and also be able to get explanation on their wealth. The current system is inherently corrupt, and allows those who occupy public office to make decisions which are self serving with little chances of retribution. It is a mafia state.  

The corruption levels that we are experiencing now threaten the very same reputation that we have in the eyes of the international community. We should never be excited by these international rating agencies who are detached from the reality. What is happening at Petroleum Fund is the reality, and we need to wake up to this reality.

Lastly, if as a nation, we value integrity as a matter of principle, those who are implicated should face the music. While waiting for the facts, in the interim, they should at least voluntarily step down from their posts for the sake of showing respect for public office. As Chedza Mogae, the daughter to former President Festus Mogae contended in her a widely published statement this week. Time has arrived for the public and the civic society to take government to task, especially in the face of their reluctance to take action against those involved.  

We should as nation defeat corruption in its all type of manifestations. If we do not do so, this country is going to go down on its knees, and the next generation would inherit a worn out country than the one we inherited from our forefathers. We should as a nation demand that those entrusted with public office account for their deeds. Our MPs should demonstrate willingness to bring those who circumvent the governance process to task. Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises and Statutory Bodies and the PAC have work cut out for them.



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