When Lieutenant General Ian Khama ascended the presidency on April 1, 2008, Botswana had the lowest corruption in Africa and overall was ranked 22nd in the world. As he steps down on April 1 next year, Botswana is still the least corrupt African country but the corruption has risen by 5.9 points according to the latest Global Competitiveness Report 2017/18. From a list of 16 factors, respondents to the World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey are asked to select the five most problematic factors for doing business in their country and to rank them between 1 (most problematic) and 5. The results are then tabulated and weighted according to the ranking assigned by respondents. One of those factors is “Corruption” and between 2009 and 2016 has been either the seventh (2011/12 and 2015/16) or eighth (2009/10, 2010/11, 2012/13, 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2016/17) most problematic factor for doing business in Botswana. The latest edition shows that corruption has now become the third most problematic factor for doing business in Botswana.
The score was 4.6 in 2009/10, jumped to 7.4 in 2014/15, 7.9 in 2016/17 and this year has shot up to 10.5. The WEF’s corruption surveys focus on “undue influence”, “irregular payments and bribes”, “diversion of public funds”, “judicial independence” and “favoritism in decisions of government officials.” When he opens the parliamentary year for the last time on November 6, Khama will definitely have a section on corruption in his state-of-the-nation address. As other presidents before him, he will typically quote the Transparency International Corruption Index about Botswana being the least corrupt country in Africa. Personally, Khama has a complicated relationship with corruption. While he has made public pronouncements against corruption, the president has himself been linked to a company owned by his younger brothers, that has been found to have unethically done business with the Botswana Defence Force (BDF). When Khama called opposition leaders “unpatriotic” at his party’s national congress this year, the response from the Botswana National Front was both swift and brutal.
“As the BDF second-in-command, he captured for his family the BDF arms procurement department and started corruptly awarding military procurement tenders to his family-owned company, Seleka Springs, run by his twin younger brothers. Ian Khama is now Botswana’s undisputed military millionaire, and has now joined the infamous ranks of the likes of Mobutu Se SeSeko of Zaire and Emperor Bokassa of Central Africa in the abuse of state resources, greed and self-aggrandizement. And this epitome of corruption has the audacity to call opposition parties unpatriotic!” the BNF Secretary General, Justin Hunyepa wrote in a letter that published in the print media.