Sunday, April 5, 2020

DCEC has become yet another wasteful adventure

Those of us who rejoiced and celebrated the arrival of the DCEC as the end of organised and institutionalised white collar corruption have now been rudely disabused.

The DCEC has floundered, and that is an almost unanimously held position.

The organisation has been given a generous length of time to prove itself.

It has not succeeded because it remains caught up in a totally different world.

As a result, public expectations have been disappointed and hopes of redemption shattered.
Now public disillusionment against the directorate has set in and stakes have become very high.
Unless the organisation delivers a highly prized trophy as its catch, cynicism will get even more entrenched, rendering this once revered office into an irrelevance.

Except for arresting and prosecuting petty, smalltime crooks (for which we commend them) the DCEC has manifestly failed to deal with large scale sophisticated crimes.

DCEC will do itself a favour by learning from the South African Scorpions.

Without casting aspersions on its professionals, in terms of capacity, the DCEC is pathetically weak and ill disposed to cope with modern day crime.
There is nothing wrong with the directorate employing former police officers as its detectives and investigators.

But the reality of modern day organised white collar crime is that it can only be detected and uncovered by an elaborate use of crack accountants, auditors, brokers, lawyers, bankers and economists, with retired police officers only occasionally chipping in to make arrests.

In the eyes of ordinary citizens, the DCEC no longer deserves the kind of public reverence it received when it was established.

Almost fifteen years on, the public has a very low opinion of the organisation such that in the minds of many the organisation is ill-cast to meaningfully prevent Botswana from sliding into an outpost of illicit economic crimes and adventurism currently eating up the rest of the sub-continent.

Even more regrettable is the fact that some people are beginning to seriously believe that the country was better off without the DCEC.

To be able to pick itself from the difficult position it finds itself, the DCEC should not attempt to underestimate or downplay the practical reality of public disenchantment against it.

If in any doubt about such a public disenchantment, the officials at the directorate could easily commission a climate check survey on themselves and their organization.

The point is that it will take a lot of hard work and sincerity to rekindle the public confidence and passion the nation once had in the directorate.
More and more people view the DCEC as just another wasteful adventure.

Even more disturbing, as time goes on, the people will begin to look down at the DCEC as an institution used to justify official corruption.
When that time comes, the directorate will effectively have become complicit in the clearly rising rates of official crime in the country.

The new public proportion which has embedded itself is that corruption is now worse off than it was prior to the arrival of the DCEC, and that the directorate’s incapacity and lack of depth in their investigations only serve to justify the rot.

In the eyes of the public, the DCEC has become the official prospectus used to dupe people into believing there is no corruption going on.

That is terrifying given that corruption (especially official corruption) remains by far the single most disruptive potent force with the greatest potential to undo all the economic gains of the last forty years.

By the way, corruption’s potency to undermine Botswana’s international integrity is set to hit the runway as the country undergoes privatization; by its very nature always a fertile playground for footloose gangster capitalists.

What the DCEC now needs is a reinvention of itself with a purpose of creating a distinct freshness in its mandate.

The extraordinary faith the public had in the organization will not be easy to win back or restore. It will have to be earned back.

It may be that the DCEC officials, couched in the comfort of their offices, do not care a fig what the public thinks about them. But then that is a dangerous way to do things, especially by an organization run through a public budget.

They have to rise up to the reality that somehow along the way their institution lost focus while the economic rot borne out of corruption only got worse and more ingrained.

The sooner the DCEC officials accept their inherent weaknesses, which have in fact transformed into near insurmountable difficulties of reform, the better.

Anything would be hubris.

When all is said and done, one should express curiosity that the DCEC seems to have a different understanding and definition of corruption – different from that held by everyone else.
It’s high time the directorate is saved from itself.