Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Money and jobs for ‘friends’ will further weaken our ailing economy

For so many years Botswana has been receiving, consistently so, positive reviews from international organisations such as Transparency International on her ratings relating to corruption. While over the years we were told that that our country is the least corrupt in Africa, we were hardly reminded of the fact that corruption is still rampant in our soil nonetheless.

It would appear that these rankings that we been getting over the year have also been used as a ‘good excuse’ by the powers that be to not to fight official corruption. This however does or mean they did not or they do not know that even to date corruption is a very big problem in our country. Infact there are several times where our political leaders used rankings such as the ones done by Transparency International for political mileage. They made it appear as if it’s their own doing that Botswana is the rated the least corrupt country in Africa.

They never bothered to explain, for instance, why in our country, membership of the ruling party, rather than expertise, was in some instances used as a defining pre-requisite for appointment to key positions at the government enclave. Our nation has been subjected to poor service – both in public and private institutions thanks largely to a few misguided individuals who have an inflated opinion of their worth who were given jobs because they are friends with the powers that be. Corruption in Botswana has over the years allowed dodgy characters in workplaces, at low, medium and high levels and its these characters who now are working hand in hand with Covid 19 to ensure that our economy is growing at a snail pace.  

In their next report on Botswana, Transparency International should consider putting a footnote that will remind the powers that be that ‘Friendpotism has no place at all in both public and private institutions. Recruitment for jobs and procurement of goods and services should be open and free for all if we are to build an equal nation. The problem arises when those in power avoid well known controls, which are there to provide “Equal Opportunity” and settle for ‘money and jobs’ for friends.

The end process is that a majority of the people then become marginalized. When people are marginalized and feel exploited by ineffective and corrupt system, they will express their discontent, at times through violence means thus threatening peace and economic stability. An example is the recent mini-strike staged by university students in Palapye village. The BIUST students’ grievances we have been told are due to the old ‘maladministration’ by the Department of Tertiary Education (DTEF). DTEF has, for so many years – even during the days it was called Student Placement and Welfare been declared by some student communities as corrupt. Many university and college students in Botswana have experienced the pain of a rubber bullet and the smell of tear gas thanks largely to the DTEF. While the DTEF corruption/maladministration allegations are yet to be proved or at bare minimum investigated it is a important for us as a nation to shun any corrupt practices and this entails giving jobs, piece jobs and money to our friends merely because we are in power and they are our friends.

We cannot afford to have state owned enterprises including FDIs, parastatals, government agencies and even private companies rewarding friendships or temporary alignments at the expense of the masses. Such amount to corruption. Corruption leads to inequality in resource allocation and this includes jobs allocations and public procurement of goods and services. The kind of corruption that we see now happening at the government enclave can only undermine our democracy and promote a distorted version of it. It is already lowering country’s revenue base as resources are being directed towards the same people. This will impede economic growth and reduce our per capita income by a big margin. The allocation of national resources becomes questionable when evils such as Friendpotism hold sway.

Whether it is perpetrated by lowly or highly ranked public servants/private persons corruption has the power to cause economical loss, inflict pain, rob citizens of their freedom and even take lives. This is so because in some countries, and lately in our country corruption has largely been influenced and promoted by divisive politics, lack of accountability and some level of arrogance by those in power. Corrupt people perform immoral or illegal acts for personal gain, without apology. Corrupt politicians take bribes and deny it. They give money and jobs to their ‘friends’ which I earlier described as Friendpotism. Given our public fiscus and true state of corruption in Botswana, we should immediately stop rewarding friends with jobs and money. We should redirect these two resources towards areas that could benefit a majority of the people of the land.

A majority of the people of the land must be prioritized not just a few select who sings praise songs to the powers that be. These few select by nature hardly use the money or the positions given to them for the benefit of many but rather just to inflate their worth. The #Bottomline is that corruption is rooted in the existence of privileges. If we all work hard towards a common goal of rebuilding our economy without pampering and glossing corruption then we can achieve one of the pillars of Vision 2036 of being an inclusive society.


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