Thursday, July 9, 2020

For kin and kith is the President’s way

Transparency International (TI) has censored President Ian Khama for running a kin-based cronyism and patronage network in which family members and friends are “unaffected by anti-corruption measures”.

In its latest Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index which was published last year, the anti-corruption watchdog has scored Botswana way below the 50 percent pass mark on defence and security corruption. With a score of between 16, 7 percent and 33.2 percent Botswana has been accorded an “E” grade which places the country’s defence and security outfits in the banding bracket of “very high corruption risk”.

The index places Botswana even lower that South Africa which is still reeling from the infamous Armsgate scandal and neighbouring Namibia. Both South Africa and Namibia have been assigned a “D” grade with a score of between 33.3 percent and 49.9 percent.

The TI report states that “in Botswana, there is evidence that officials with close ties to the President, his family or allies remain largely unaffected by anti-corruption measures. Meanwhile, the President’s brothers have a track record of winning major defence tenders.”

An independent investigations by Sunday Standardhas turned up information of financial transactions between Seleka Springs and President Khama suggesting that he has a direct financial interest in the family business which, according to TI, has “a track record of winning major defence tenders”.

WikiLeaks has also reported that Khama stopped an investigation by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) against Seleka Springs. The Investigation was completed in 2001, but the case docket was never passed to the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP).

TI is unhappy that in Africa “governance through patronage is prevalent, whether through family, tribal, sectarian or other connections”. The international ant- corruption watchdog states that in nearly 70 percent of the countries surveyed, Botswana among them, “there is no evidence at all that procurement decisions are based on any national strategy or analysis of national security requirements, which increases the risk of opportunistic purchases.”

Botswana is cited among countries where defence matters are considered highly sensitive and evade vital scrutiny. “This secrecy is often unjustified and can be used to mask corruption, misuse and incompetence. Parliamentary defence committees are particularly weak across the region with little evidence that they are exercising meaningful influence in defence decision making.” TI further observed that “in Botswana several parliamentary committees exist which might exercise oversight over defence spending such as the Standing Committee on Public accounts, but the lack of information on defence force budget hinder process”.

The Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index (GI) assesses the existence, effectiveness, and enforcement of institutional and informal controls to manage the risk of corruption in defence and security institutions. The team of experts draws together evidence from a wide variety of open-access sources and interviews across 77 indicators to provide governments with detailed assessments of the integrity of their defence institutions.

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Sunday Standard July 5 – 11

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of July 5 - 11, 2020.