Mmegi Blogs :: We Are Falling Deep Into The Rotten Well Of Corruption
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Friday 14 June 2019, 13:18 pm.
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We Are Falling Deep Into The Rotten Well Of Corruption

Someone recently asked if we are too deep in to fight corruption. Has this cancer that eats through every fabric of society too entrenched to halt its progress, to end it? Or has eaten through the bones down to the marrow that we are in ICU waiting for the machines to be switched?
By Pamela Dube Kelepang Mon 20 May 2019, 16:28 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: We Are Falling Deep Into The Rotten Well Of Corruption








I subscribe to the saying travel is the best teacher.  We learn more in interaction, especially when we leave our comfort zones to see and experience the world beyond our borders. Travelling teaches one what the books fail to.

The first time I felt the pinch of corruption, was as a young excitable journalist, in Kenya. I had spent hours in transit at Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi, waiting to connect from Cairo, Egypt to Johannesburg, South Africa. Ten minutes or so before departure, I heard my name called out on the airport intercom. At the ‘help desk’ I was informed that I had excess luggage and had to pay US$20 to board the plane.

My appeals that it was not possible as my luggage was within limit, and had direct flight, fell on deaf ears. I demanded to see the supervisor, who in a blink of an eye was there, and instead of hearing me out, instructed me to pay up to avoid my luggage staying behind. I knew I was instructed to pay a bribe when no ticket was provided as proof of payment.

In later years, whenever I shared this story with fellow Africans, I would be nicely informed that I knew nothing of bribes, and all other forms of corruption. My Nigerian friends, of the country notorious of all kinds, would casually talk about the fact that in their homeland, paying a flight ticket was not a guarantee for a seat on an aeroplane, and that to cash in the bank, you may have to part with more to the teller.

I recall when the South Africa’s first democratic president, the late Nelson Mandela first went on a state visit to the West African country, we got reports that his written speech was stolen, and a demand was made for the SA delegation to part with a few thousands of dollars to get it back. Moreover, there was a queue of the ‘middlemen’ who had to have their hands ‘washed’ before the precious document could be returned.  It was alleged that among the washed hands were senior government officials.

Sounds far-fetched? Yes, it may, but in other countries it is business as usual. How about in Botswana, how deep are we? If we are deep in the mud of blue collar thievery and corruption, how long has this once ‘perfect’ world of ours been digging this trench?

When we started hearing terminologies as bribe, corruption, brown envelop, kick-backs, so forth and so forth, back in the 1990s, we, as usual, dug our heads in the sand, and pointed elsewhere, to foreign nations.

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We could not smell the rot in our backyard. When we finally woke up, and realised we are sitting on a dumpsite, we found the scapegoat in ones we love to hate, politicians.

But as the billions of pulas, started disappearing or not accounted for in public institutions, and government business, we went through another denial stage, of blaming lack of experience in accounting for public funds.

But just as public institutions were found wanting, we now started seeing sleazy business operatives, who not only swindled the nation of its resources, but used ‘legal’ means, to undertake illegal dealings. Fund managers entrusted with public trust funds, found ways of laundering the money, enriching themselves at the expense of the poor hard working majority.

Businesses, government workers and politicians found themselves caught in this web. In a short period of time, or so we assume as serious cases of corruption and money laundering started being reported in the last 10 years, most leading figures in our nation, politicians especially, found themselves implicated.

Politicians from across the political divide, so much so that today, as we prepare for the general elections in five months’ time, elected officials are the most mistrusted lot.  Interestingly, lawyers, journalists and priests have found themselves in the category of professionals not taken as honest, a subject for another day.

What remains a mystery though is that the real and obvious culprits, in this rotten world of corruption, the business operatives, remain under the radar. In our anger and call for the fight against corruption, we do not seem to appreciate that it is those that oil the palms of officials, to receive favours in acquiring government tenders and other business, that are the most dangerous. These are mainly the business people. Not all. But many.

Yes, truth is that our visitors, operators of foreign big business, or those owing local ones but of foreign origin, are notorious world over of bribing their way to the top. Not all, once again.

But rigorous and constant investigations by the fourth estate has exposed that we have many amongst us, who have killed fairness in doing business, and dug us deep into the ocean of corruption. We are so deep that no week passes without reports of some form of corruption, or investigation happening in almost all sectors.

At every turn there are media reports of officials, politicians and business people engaged in this worst form of crime, corruption. Unless and until we take stern action, long term imprisonment and hefty penalties, we will continue to fall deep and deep into this well of rot.

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