The former head of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo, has called for freedom of information and cautioned government against breeding a “conspiracy of blindness and silence” in the fight against corruption.
In an opinion piece to the Sunday Standard following reports that government is planning to enforce a code of secrecy in the civil service, Katlholo warned that “corruption thrives under the cloak of secrecy, especially if the decision making processes are not transparent and accountable”.
Katlholo stated that “the highest possible degree of transparency in all government is essential to promote integrity and fight corruption. The media, civil society and private sector together with government are indispensible partners in this endeavor. It is therefore of utmost importance that government should adopt widely publicized and enforced legislation and procedures that provide the public and the media in the best possible way an optimum degree of access to information.”
Katlholo’s opinion goes against the popular sentiments at the government enclave where calls for Freedom of Information Act have been spurned and laws enforcing a closed and secretive society advocated.
He says currently Botswana has no law to protect whistle blowers. “The question is, do we need it. The answer rests with “us Batswana”.
However, let me attempt to answer the two questions on your behalf.
Indeed, there is a growing case for a new approach to whistle blowing. With the changing nature of employment, globalization and the increased flow of information, there is recognition that the traditional approach of trust and confidence in the work place cannot be relied upon to operate as it did through much of the 20th Century. Whilst trust and confidence is of critical importance in any community or organization, to be effective, it cannot be blind or unquestioned .The approach sees whistle blowing as a means of detecting wrong-doing, promoting transparency, underpinning self-regulation and maintaining confidence. It is also a means to deliver good management, maintain public confidence and promote organizational accountability.”