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Corruption costly to economy – DCEC

LEBOGANG MOSIKARE
DCEC offices
FRANCISTOWN: Corruption in whatever form has potential to destroy the economy of the country and value of businesses, says Oteng Seemule, the regional coordinator of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).

Seemule said this during the law enforcement workshop that was conducted by the DCEC for the Chinese business community here on Sunday. The workshop was attended by officials from the immigration department, labour department, Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS), bye-law and the police who all gave presentations during the session. The impact of corruption, Seemule said, could come in the form of loss of revenue to the country, cost and loss of profits to businesses and illegal trade dealings.

“…There is a great danger of corruption destroying the corporate image and reputation of your businesses if they are implicated in corrupt activities. It is thus clear that the DCEC and other oversight institutions cannot act alone in their quest to fight corruption,” he said.

Seemule stated that both the public and private sectors have key roles to play to fight this scourge.

“Fighting corruption has to be a whole government effort involving the improvement of administrative processes within the public sector as well as improvement of corporate governance standards within the private sector…  Corruption even more importantly also undermines the very viability of countries and make their people poor.” The DCEC boss further said while businesses are expected to assist the DCEC to curb corruption, the actions they take may not bear fruit unless they abide by clear codes of business ethics and practices as well as values and behaviours that they should be prepared to be judged upon.

“If businesses can hold themselves accountable for their behaviours, we will not need strict laws to regulate the way they operate… It is entrepreneurs who can exploit national laws and regulations to influence behaviours of politicians, labour, immigration, BURS officials, the police and many other public officers for personal business gains.”

“Yet it is the same businesspeople who at times shout the loudest about the debilitating impact of corruption on their businesses,” Seemule said.

The DCEC and its stakeholders, Seemule noted, can least afford the impact of pervasive and deeply entrenched culture of corruption.

“The consequences are

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all there for us to see; permits which are sold to companies for peanuts, immigration permits which are sold to foreign business people, bribes paid to bye-law officials, roads which are never built to the right specifications, stadiums and other national projects which are never completed on time,” he said.

“Incidences of corruption in our city concern both the DCEC, city leadership and the community of Francistown. The city leadership and community continue to work tirelessly with the DCEC to come up with strategies that will fight corruption even more effectively,” Seemule said. He added that measures continue to be developed and implemented to ensure that anti-corruption laws are enforced, systems improved to ensure easier detection and prevention of corruption in public offices, businesses and that the community is well informed of the evils of corruption. The director of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Francistown, Weng Yongbiao, expressed delight at the DCEC for organising a workshop to sensitise his countrymen about various laws that regulate how their businesses operate in Botswana.

“The Chinese business community employs a lot of locals in Francistown.  The workshop could not have come at the right time because many Chinese entrepreneurs want to learn about the various rules and regulations of trading in Botswana. We are ready to help the DCEC in its quest to fight corruption in all its manifestations here.”

In other related developments during the workshop, members of the Chinese business community expressed concern that their work and resident permits are always cancelled on grounds of security. They said that this has the possibility to scare away potential investors who would create the much-needed jobs for Batswana.

However, the police and immigration officers who attended the event told the Chinese that government was not obliged to reveal reasons for cancellation of permits.

The entrepreneurs also complained that traffic officers always  want them to pay on the spot, even for minor traffic offences unlike locals who are given some days to settle their fines.



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