The Voice newspaper dated 1 March 2019 reported the Hon Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Nonofo Molefhi to have said in parliament that “….there is no need to move the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) from the Office of the President (OP).” The reason proffered by Hon Molefhi in this respect and according to The Voice is that “….DIS and DCEC still retain their independence even under the watch of the Office of the President. He further argued that the process to return them to the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security where they were originally housed would be labouring.” Scaring to say the least! Direct and unfettered political supervision of the DIS and DCEC as it currently obtains completely takes away such purported independence. Even if they were to be relocated to the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security would still render them directly under political direction and manipulation.
I am putting it to Hon Molefhi that he was making a political statement to serve his political party narrow interests as opposed to making a statement of intent to curb runaway corruption in recognition of the runaway grand corruption and State Capture that have engulfed this Republic. I am also putting it Hon Molefhi that in his hearts of hearts, he knows pretty well that history will judge him very harshly for this DIS/DCEC statement much as it is going to do so for having been complicit in the closure of BCL mine. In fact and I dare say, such history has already judged him harshly by his loss of the Bulela Ditswe (primary elections) in his constituency. Hon Molefhi is a fine, grounded politician who is unfortunately caught in the crossfire of politics of convenience. I really feel pity for him.
If the Acts of Parliament that have created these institutions were significantly reformed from what they currently are; that political influence was maintained at the bare minimum-only to provide reasonable resources for their operations, the scale and magnitude of runaway corruption and State Capture would have been significantly reduced. But because Botswana seems to be resolute in creating strong individuals as opposed to strong institutions, these individuals are in a better and privileged position to influence, manipulate, circumvent and compromise these institutions because they exercise unparalleled executive authority over them. Hon Molefhi will be well aware of the narrative that has gained traction in the public discourse that the runaway corruption and State Capture that has been laid bare is credited to former President Ian Khama’s administration.
As it stands and consequent to this narrative, is the convenient suggestion that points to the results of the symptoms and not the causes of such symptoms. That is, proponents of this narrative are not saying: why and how did the National Petroleum Fund get looted; how did the billions of Pula disappear right under the noses of state institutions; is the same configuration and the structure of the DIS and DCEC able to stop a similar occurrence under the same and current legal/constitutional frameworks; what guarantee do we have that the same corruption occurrences that took place under Rre Khama won’t happen under President Masisi given that the latter still operates under the same legal/constitutional frameworks as did the former? I have become too familiar to the usual and populist narrative that ‘I am committed to fighting corruption in all its forms and shapes.’ All Presidents here and elsewhere have harped on this statement yet the revelations at the South Africa’s State of Capture Commission of Inquiry for example, say otherwise. Here at home, corruption scandals of Biblical proportions keep on emerging every other day. The Botswana Guardian newspaper dated 1 March 2019 runs with a front page story headlined “P 900 million tender scandal rocks Health Ministry” which tender was according to the newspaper, awarded just as recently as 18 December 2018.
I am amazed and at the same time shocked by Hon Molefhi’s revelation in the same newspaper report that “Even me, as I sit here, they have shared with me whom they are investigating…” A truly independent institution has no business telling him whom it is investigating. This I am afraid, is a simple but telling example of an institution seriously beholden to politicians which is not even ashamed to share ‘confidential’ information about whom it is investigating. Would the institution refuse if Hon Molefhi instructed them to abort that investigation? This inevitably brings me to the school of thought held by some that when State institutions are directly and effectively under the grip of politicians as is the case in this country, such politicians have the propensity of using them to fight political and even personal battles. That school of thought further posits that the current corruption blitz by such State institutions are pursuing those who are perceived to be anti the current administration. Those who are sympathetic to the administration are spared the rod.