FRANCISTOWN: An expert has bemoaned the transfer of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) to the Office of the President (OP) indicating that this has completely diluted its sting.
On the other hand, without providing supporting statistics, the DCEC has acknowledged that for the past decade during President Ian Khama’s tenure, corruption has been on the rise.
University of Botswana (UB) political scientist Dr Kebapetse Lotshwao is steadfast that the transfer of the DCEC to the OP during Khama’s tenure has spelt doom for the corruption-busting agency, as it never emerged above waters. The move, he said, was self-serving on the part of the ruling elite.
Questions were abound for the motive of bundling the main corruption busting agency and the spy agency under one roof.
At the expense of operational efficiency of the DCEC and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), Khama at the time reportedly protected his protégé and DIS boss, Isaac Kgosi who at the time faced a plethora of charges including corruption, money laundering amongst others.
Lotshwao raised a concern recently that oversight institutions such as the DCEC ended up transferred to the OP, which seemingly left it experiencing many failures.
The UB academic’s major concern is that many international agencies have noted a rise in corruption cases in Botswana.
He even cited corruption as one area that has been ignored and that it will be good for the impending president Mokgweetsi Masisi who ascends on April 1, 2018 to immediately focus on effectively combating corruption and its related ills.
Under Khama also, there has always been a cry that the Executive was exerting undue influence in the DCEC. The alleged lack of independence of the oversight institution has been seen as a major impediment to effective delivery.
In other words, the DCEC lacked the political will from the powers that be with political interference reportedly becoming the order of the day.
In equal measure, Gaborone-based political commentator, Anthony Morima does not think the transfer of the DCEC to the OP really added any value.
“People had a negative view that the move to the OP did not help rather the move was perceived to be self-serving and a gesture to protect certain members of the society,” noted Morima.
The political commentator said that the DCEC’s transfer to the OP by Khama’s administration has hurt the DCEC so much so that it is currently ignoring the so-called big fish and is only pursuing little guy.
Most importantly, Morima observed that operating under the OP has left the DCEC without the requisite teeth of operational independence.
He is particularly concerned by a pattern that shows that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Ombudsman, the DCEC
“At least operational independence should be seen to be there so that the public should believe that these oversight institutions are really worth it,” he said.
For many years now, there has been no move legislatively to strengthen the DCEC, which motivates concerns that the corruption-busting agency has been ignored.
“Worst, the past immediate director general of the DCEC, Rose Seretse, who was seen to be doing a lot in combating corruption has been moved out.”
There were even issues in the past that when the DCEC tried to assert itself by combating corruption, there were concerns it was now encroaching into the territory of the spy agency, DIS headed by Khama’s blue-eyed boy, Kgosi.
Responding to a questionnaire on the state of corruption and economic crime for the past 10 years whilst Khama was at the helm, DCEC public relations officer, Phakamile Kraai recently said: “Our response to your questions is as follows: Corruption is on the rise because of the use of technology, it has become easier for corrupt individuals to siphon money out of government coffers at the blink of an eye”.
Kraai chose to shift the blame from the Khama administration and how it treated the DCEC as a corruption buster. He would also choose to respond to issues in a general manner than being issue specific.
He, however, indicated the DCEC has put systems in place to deal with technological advancements.
He indicated that Botswana has been rated the least corrupt African country for many years, “but this does not mean that corruption is not a challenge for us and we are not going to bask on our glory and relent on the fight against corruption, such that all ministries have set up corruption prevention committees and anti-corruption units”.
Kraai highlighted that Permanent Secretaries are reviewed on the anti-corruption efforts on a quarterly basis and Khama is always made aware of this performance.
Kraai added: “This has enabled fighting corruption to be the responsibility of not only the DCEC but other stakeholders as well, more especially the public service where most corruption seems to be manifesting according to the DCEC statistics”.
The DCEC spokesperson was proud that the DCEC has a 75% success rate of all cases taken to court calling this an impressive record.
He also indicated that the DCEC investigates everyone regardless of their societal stature as long as they have committed a crime, which falls under their mandate.