Tuesday, May 17, 2022

State Capture shenanigans in South Africa should ring alarm bells in Botswana

Two weeks ago, the South African deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo delivered his much awaited report on Sate Capture in that county.

It makes for a fascinating if shocking read.

The Report, which is a result of a Commission of Enquiry bares out just what happens when state institutions are run roughshod in favour of friends, relatives or acquaintances.

South Africa, we must point out is a much bigger and even more sophisticated economy that is much more elaborately linked to the global economy.

But as we all know, the effects of State Capture left that economy almost on its knees.

As a country we should never fool ourselves into believing that we are immune and that what happened to South Africa cannot happen in Botswana.

If anything we should learn and even study what happened to South Africa and seek to prevent that from happening here, not least because were it to happen here recovery will be so hard as to be impossible for Botswana were a similar tragedy to befall this country.

In Botswana, our Achilles Heel remains our weak institutions that are easily swayed and even manipulated by the executive.

These institutions, sadly include even the judiciary.

Events of last year, especially as the year drew to a close highlighted the many red flags that should make every citizen of goodwill to be forever vigilant.

The ongoing fight because incumbent president and his predecessor has exposed the extent of how week our institutions are.

Many of the key ones are not fit for purpose.

The Directorate of Public Prosecutions does not inspire public confidence.

The directorate seems to be taking instructions from elsewhere.

The intelligence services do not seem to even understand its limits or boundaries.

Governance is alien to it.

Others like the corruption busting agency, the DCEC are infiltrated and manipulated from Office of the President.

In short it is a mess.

The rule of law promised by President Mokgweetsi Masisi remains a pie in the sky.

Of all the troubling developments, most outstanding was an attempt to change the rules on appointing judges to handle cases.

That might seem small and even innocuous, but it is infinitely dangerous – with lasting and far reaching ramifications.

Some of the things that happened in South Africa where the State President presided over acts of collusion between the private sector and public servants to undermine state institutions would never happen in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom.

The Zondo Report shows in stunning graphic detail how a president planted his cronies to undermine independence and functionality of state institutions.

Sycophants in key positions across the public sector including the SARS, an equivalent of Botswana Unified Revenue Services were planted to do the bidding of the president and his friends.

The Zondo Report also highlights in detail how state procurement occupied a central position on the overall saga of State Capture – especially how certain individuals with known links to the State President used their access to power to win big and lucrative contracts often at overpriced values.

International consultancies made a killing.

Bain & Co. for example oversaw the restructuring of SARS. This is despite the fact that Bain had no tax expertise and had not undertaken a similar job anywhere in Africa.

They were facilitated by the president.

Bain later sought to restructure the whole SA economy, including State entities that here are often called parastatals.

Does this still not sound familiar?

Indeed there was money to be made from cozying up to a Head of State and emails have shown that Bain was having a closed-door meeting with the then South African president almost every other week.

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