Friday, July 12, 2024

It is possible to be rich and not be corrupt

There are many countries across the world that have attracted the ignominy of being corruption hotspots.

By no standards is Botswana among those countries.

But we should not be complacent.

Corruption is like cancer.

Once it builds up, rooting it out is almost impossible.

There are signs that in a very big way corruption is fast getting institutionalised in Botswana.

It therefore is in every Motswana’s interest to work at ensuring that our country does not join the rogue list of corruption hotspots.

As Batswana we should do everything in our power to avoid becoming a part of those lists.

Poverty, unemployment, red-tape and economic hardships are often cited as reasons responsible for instant rises in levels of corruption.

While it may be true that corruption levels grow during difficult times such as what we are going through at the moment, it certainly cannot be justification, much less a plausible one.

The same applies to pointing at red-tape as a reason to why somebody opts for an easy but illegal route of bribing a public official to circumvent processes and procedures.

Part of our problem when it comes to corruption is a culture of denial, which feeds into complacency, to a great extent a result of statistics and indices which by their nature are flawed.

There is nothing wrong with Transparency International giving us accolades, as long as such accolades are well deserved. Unfortunately we have a growing number of our people now openly questioning if indeed we deserve the prize.
That on its own is as painful as it is instructive.

Painful because it underscores deep-seated levels of self-doubt among ourselves as possessing attributes to be the best or one among the best. Instructive because it underlines declining levels of public faith in official data and institutions that help fashion the outcomes that say we are among the best.

Our advise is that instead of swimming in the accolades, it is very important that our government facilitates introspections as a way of strengthening our institutions so that what good we are said to be can have more enduring life span that can ultimately win the confidence and indeed faith of our people.

There are many reasons why a growing number of ordinary Batswana often get surprised to learn that Botswana, their country  is the least corrupt country in Africa.

This stems mainly from growing perceptions of official corruption, especially among senior officials and wealthy business people.
When it comes to measuring corruption, perception, we all have to admit is very powerful.

This, however is not to say that every rich person is corrupt. Which is why it is also important to change our public attitude towards wealth.

Where government in Botswana is a source of income and jobs, in many, many countries across the world, it is private wealthy that provides income and jobs to multitudes.

Batswana have to learn and accept that among their own people, there are many wealthy people who have accrued their wealth without resorting to corruption. That can only be internalized through public education.

People who are involved in public education against corruption have a public and indeed moral duty to also teach the public that it is possible to be reach without being corrupt.

Such education, we contend, will go a long way in disabusing Batswana of this entrenched and self-defeating culture that drives our people to look  at wealth with suspicion or askance, so to speak.

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