Thursday, October 29, 2020

Botswana fails to reclaim top spot for Africa’s least corrupt country

For the second year running, Botswana has failed to emerge as Africa’s least corrupt country in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

Established in 1995, the CPI ranks nations on the prevalence of corruption and beginning then until 2018, Botswana has been continuously adjudged Africa’s least corrupt country. Perhaps as a sign of the times, Seychelles has now knocked Botswana off its pedestal and when TI published its 2019 CPI, the island SADC nation beaten Botswana for the second year running.

“With a score of 66, the Seychelles earns the highest mark in the [Sub-Saharan] region, followed by Botswana (61), Cabo Verde (58), Rwanda (53) and Mauritius (52),” TI’s 2019 report says.

While this decline happens under the administration of President Mokgweetsi Masisi, there will be very strong sentiment that it should be attributed to what happened during the administration of his predecessor, Ian Khama.

In an academic paper published in an edition of the Journal of Contemporary African Studies during Khama’s administration, Professors Monageng Mogalakwe of the University of Botswana and Francis Nyamjoh of the University of Cape Town asserted that “elite corruption has flourished under the current regime of General Ian Khama, who was also one of its early beneficiaries.” They accuse Khama of having a key role in “corrupt deals which have privileged the presidents’ family and friends.” Such deals have largely been transacted through Seleka Springs, a company registered in the names of Khama’s twin brothers, Tshekedi and Anthony, which has long dominated the Botswana Defence Force’s defence procurement: “The Khama brothers, including President Khama himself, and their friends, have been sole middlemen of especially lucrative BDF procurement deals, from fighter aircraft through to trainer and transport aircraft, and on to armoured vehicles and tanks.”

According to the Fraser Institute, a Canadian think tank, corruption rose by 5.8 percent between 2008 and 2018. That is when Khama was president. At the time that Sir Ketumile Masire was president, the most high-profile corruption case was of a Department of Roads director involving less than P200 000. Today such cases involve hundreds of millions of pula in a country that remains one of the most unequal in the world.

While not mentioning him by name, TI has acknowledged President Masisi’s fight against corruption in its 2018 report: “Angola, Nigeria, Botswana, South Africa and Kenya are all important countries to watch, given some promising political developments. The real test will be whether these new administrations will follow through on their anti-corruption commitments moving forward.” During his visit to Switzerland for this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos-Kloster, Masisi participated in a panel that discussed corruption.

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