It was interesting to note during the week at a time when the media was awash with reports of a major investigation of possible corruption and other financial offences by the Financial Intelligence Agency that on the other side of town representatives from several countries converged in Gaborone to collectively deliberate on better methods of ending corruption in their respective countries and outside their borders.
Speaking at the Interpol, African Development Bank and Commonwealth Africa Anti-corruption, Financial Crime and Asset Recovery seminar in Gaborone during the week, Permanent Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi reiterated the Government of Botswana's commitment to the fight against corruption. He said ours is a zero tolerance to corruption strategy, and we continue to not only educate our community about the need to fight corruption, but also to make everyone an anti-corruption ambassador.
It is commendable that to attest to this commitment and embed it within Government, President Khama has made the fight against corruption as one of the Top 10 priority areas in the Public Service performance plan. It is therefore requisite for every public service employee, every division and all Ministries to demonstrate their input to this deliverable on a regular basis.
The PSP said Botswana strongly believes that the fight against corruption is one that cannot be tackled by an individual organisation or country, and that instead, it requires a concerted effort by all. We cannot agree more. There is a critical need to fight all forms of corruption and sensitise all key stakeholders on the importance of their role in the fight against this monster.
Corruption is an international epidemic that has destroyed many governments and continues to threaten many others. Not only does it destroy economies, but it also has a huge potential to immensely rob our children of their future; unless we all join forces to wipe it out entirely. In this new-media era, financial crime on the other hand, has become one of the most sophisticated criminal activities that dictate aggressive interventions from all concerned stakeholders. Corruption does not only refer to dirty organisational transactions, but includes something as small as enticing a child with some sweets in order to get them to perform an act that they are not supposed to. There is potential for corruption in all spheres of life, and these must be tackled with the same vigour and zeal.
Botswana as a signatory to international bodies like the United Nations, the African Union and SADC pledges to abide by all statutes that aim at nailing corruption in the head, all the time! To this end, Botswana has established an agency; which fights Corruption, Economic Crime and Money Laundering. Amongst the pieces of Legislation that the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) uses is the Corruption and Economic Crime Act, the Penal Code and the Proceeds and Instrument of Crime Act of 2014. Botswana has also developed a Whistle Blowing Legislation which has gone through the first reading of Parliament. As a result of this commitment, Botswana has over the years been recognised as one of the least corrupt countries in Africa. But this is not enough. We need to empower the DCEC to fight sophisticated crimes instead of concentrating on petty thieves when others are milking the economy dry.
We are happy that government recognises her short comings in the fight against corruption as such admission will compel anti corruption organs to step up the fight against corruption by remaining a step ahead in order to beat criminals to their own game. We should acknowledge the fact that our processes and systems should all be intertwined to ensure effective delivery as we cannot only focus on public education and not invest in systems that will deter corrupt practices, including financial crime. If an organisation has all necessary programs to enable this to succeed, its efforts will not bear fruit if the legal framework of that particular country does not corroborate the institutional efforts.
Yes, there has to be synergy between organisations, the public, local and regional law enforcement agencies, financial institutions and indeed the media in order to realise progress. In the anti-corruption pipeline, a critical stakeholder is those who assist governments to put to book, perpetrators of corruption. The police, and indeed Interpol have, and continue to play a vital role in this journey to fight corruption and financial crime. For this they ought to be commended.
If Africa is to win the fight and prevent financial crimes, technical assistance should be provided in the development of anti-corruption mechanisms. Governments and financial institutions like the African Development Bank should therefore avail resources that will assist nations to fight corruption. These efforts should be intensified to collectively safeguard the continents resources through putting in place mechanisms which will ensure compliance to laws, and strengthening governance structures, making it difficult for corruption to penetrate.
We can only hope that resolutions of such important training, whose strategic objectives included examining challenges that impede successful investigations and prosecutions, as well as discussing possible avenues to trace and recover proceeds of financial crime related activities, will not become part of the stationary at government enclave. They should be implemented to achieve bthe desired results in the fight against corruption.