Concerned about daily reports of fraud, money laundering, scandals and corruption currently swamping Botswana, the Business Circle, a 100 percent citizen-owned company held a seminar on Corporate Governance on Wednesday. The seminar was aimed at exploring corporate governance practices and implementation strategies as well as to give impetus to the country’s current efforts and focus towards combating these crimes.
Speaking at the event held at the GICC, Boitshoko Matlhare, the officer responsible for Corruption Prevention at the DCEC, said that the seminar was a most appreciated initiative by the private sector since it enabled all concerned to work hand in hand in combating fraud and corruption.
“It’s high time we accepted that corruption, fraud and money laundering do happen and can be done by people we trust,” she stated.
Also addressing the attendants was the DCEC Public Education Officer, Felistus Hlabano, who pointed out that society should be the watchdog of those departments of government which were set up to look after the governance revenue. She said the DCEC should really be praised as it is doing an excellent job.
“Our annual report showed a 78-80 percent success rate of DCEC conviction making Botswana the lowest in corruption in Africa,” she said.
Transparency International Executive Director, Mosupi Garebatho, told the guests that each and every organization should know the direction of where it is going and should always involve the majority of its people.
“People have a high desire for money, power, sex, hence leading them to corruption. We should start afresh and invest more on ethical governance,” said Garebatho.
The guest speaker, Tshepo Ditsele, the Executive director of the Institute for Work-Science in Pretoria, South Africa, urged Batswana to build a framework on Corporate Governance. Lack of good corporate governance, he said, usually makes it almost impossible for investments to intervene, adding that we need these frameworks so that we can formulate our policies.
“This is becoming a social issue worldwide. Therefore, the aim of this workshop is to encourage implementation of corporate ethics programmes,” he said. He added that Botswana should have Transparency International as a watchdog and develop the understanding of governance as well as learning how it works.
Ditsele said the importance of corporate governance is to drive international competitiveness, to promote efficient investments into productive channels as well as to strengthen the capital markets.
“Good corporate governance can benefit the community, society and the country through providing employment, domestic production and trade and exports,” he explained, adding that good corporate governance can also attract investment and promote competition in the market place.
Ditsele advised Batswana to encourage internal auditing and quality performance.
“There is a need to revolve and change our accounting firms. If we have used them twice there should be revisited,” he said. The companies ought to expose themselves, show their results to their employees and customers, and always make sure that they are equitable. This will help in making companies transparent, he stated.
Ditsele said signs that indicate that governance works include a clear purpose, inspiring vision, shared values, robust relationships, reciprocal accountability and balanced measurement. This, he said, is a strategic issue hence people should understand their limits so as to earn trust.
“Employees and stakeholders should understand what to expect from the company,” he stated. “It is high time you start questioning things and avoid saying ‘we were not told.”
Ditsele pointed out that lack of investment is usually brought about by the lack of disclosure from companies, ministries and government as a whole. “It is high time Botswana establishes a Public Disclosure Act, and knows that transparency is the number one requirement in good governance.”