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Zero corruption: Masisi should set example

Publishing Date : 26 June, 2018

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Most of the corruption that the country continues to experience in the country comes from the public procurement system. This should be President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s first stop if indeed he is resolute in fighting corruption. 


The public procurement system is not only marred by the view that it is secret but also by the view that the outcomes of tenders are predetermined. Over the past years, Ministers became powerful, accumulated power and influenced the outcomes of various tenders. The tenders were either awarded to their allies or to their family members.


Many people have began to doubt the fairness of the the country’s procurement system. The unfairness of the procurement system has seen many cases before the courts, with various companies challenging tender award outcomes.  This has not been help to our developmental course owing to a lot of projects which had to be suspended. For a country with a small economy like Botswana, where the procurement accounts for 70 percent of the country’s GDP,  there is a compelling reason to have the best practices.


One other thing that Masisi’s administration should do without fail is to ensure that the the funds disbursed for public procurement are indeed used for their purpose. There are many cases in the past where funds were diverted for their original purpose to fund something else. The impeding Declaration of Assets and Liabilities law will help in rooting out corruption. We need to set the tone and ensure that public funds are not meant to enrich everybody. There are stories of individuals who mysteriously become rich once after occupying higher public offices.


The secret to successful procurement system is transparency. We need a procurement system that allows government to hire the most deserving companies to do the job for the public. We are weary of projects which are not delivered on time and within budget because of awarding tenders to companies which are not the most competent.


Best international practices dictate that governments should provide potential suppliers and contractors with clear and consistent information so that the public procurement process is well understood and applied as equitably as possible. Recently the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) have introduced the publishing of public procurement plans, which is a good for transparency. 


There also reports that PPADB staff has been involved in the conspiring with bidding companies in awarding tenders as well as in the grading system. Compromising the grading system means that contractors end up qualifying for tenders which they do not necessarily qualify for. The result of which the public have to pay the price for with poorly delivered projects. In trying to fix the public procurement system we should also look at the laws that would help improve the system.


Several studies indicate that of all government activities, public procurement is also one of the most vulnerable to fraud and corruption. There are more compelling reasons to maximise transparency in competitive tendering and take precautionary measures to enhance integrity, in particular for exceptions to competitive tendering. We have had cases where public money was unaccounted for in the name of national security.


This has been synonymous with the the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS) in recent years. We should careful to balance the need to protect public funds as well as the need for national security. There should be mechanisms put in place to make sure that we get the best out of that. Internal best practices dictates that the management of public funds should be monitored by internal control and internal audit bodies, supreme audit institutions and/or parliamentary committees.


This also means that we should have the best skilled and qualified people working in the country’s procurement system. We should not just look at procurement system as a methods of delivering public work or public services but also as a lever that can be used to empower citizens.

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