Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Corruption rocks public service

The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Director Rose Seretse on Friday painted a picture of burgeoning corruption trend in which a considerable number of public officials have accumulated unexplained wealth. Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Friday, Seretse said a number of cases have been reported with her organisation in which a number of public officials had accumulated immense wealth despite their modest official salaries. She described the situation as a worrying adding that there is need to contain it.

“We have recorded a number of illicit self enrichment cases whereby some people have accumulated immense wealth and their wealth also far exceeds their legitimate sources of incomeand this cuts across irrespective what their status is in the society,” she said. Seretse added that “Corruption is becoming widespread in Botswana. Another challenge that we face when we conduct investigations is that record keeping is tedious in our country.”

Committee member Gilson Saleshando had asked Seretse if the picture of corruption she painted in her executive summary of her report “should start to ring alarm bells.” We have been priding ourselves as a country with low corruption but the picture that you are painting suggests the opposite and should we get worried as a nation?” he asked. Seretse said corruption was spreading in Botswana and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. She cited among others, unexplained wealth, land deals and drivers licence acquisition as some of the areas where corruption was rampant. One of the committee members Philip Makgalemele sought to know if the DCEC was free to investigate government ministries and other law enforcement agencies.

Replying, Seretse said her organisation was free to “investigate any member of the society in Botswana because we believe that no one is above the law.” Another committee member Samson Guma Moyo said there is need to expedite the drafting of declaration of assets and liabilities bill. “When do you think we will have it and it should not only be for politicians but also for people holding sensitive offices,” he said.

Seretse disclosed that her organisation has since issued instructions to the Attorney General Chambers to draft the legislation. “We have identified countries where we can benchmark. The matter has progressed,” she said. Seretse also expressed concern that since Botswana does not have a bilateral treaty with other countries on issues relating to corruption, some foreigners who were involved in corruption practices and have since fled to their countries of origin were making their investigations problematic.

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