There is a proverbial saying, “until the lion tells his side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter”.
This is a story of inequality. Those with levers of power modify their tales and magnify their glories – illusions in most instances. Until those who see injustice speak, the world will never know their viewpoint.
Henchman, Peter Magosi is the hunter of today’s epoch. The jungle is littered with carcasses of his acts. His expeditions as a super corruption busting civil servant lack blood soaked medals to accompany this false sense of delusional bravado.
Magosi says he is saving this country from pandemic corruption. He formulates make believe stories of would be assassins, and how he has single handedly spared the life of President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
Few trust the henchman’s version. Many want to see and know the other side of the story. The ongoing tussle between China Jiangsu International (CJI) and the government of Botswana presents yet another opportunity for debate, another chance to reject many fictitious claims and in the process reveal the true nature of the hunter.
One of the few constants throughout Magosi’s administration has been talk of corruption. From his first day in office, Magosi took the wholly unprecedented step of overreaching into the DCEC’s mandate.
In the 15 months in office, the henchman’s stay is characterised by an unending effort by him to abuse office in the intertwined journey closest to those who exploit political power for personal gain. And that is the version of the hunted.
The lion’s perspective is one of many questions, the first being whether Magosi’s antics are part of an external and larger self-enrichment scheme. In the CJI debacle Magosi’s flouted a bullet proof procurement process, effectively acting as gatekeeper.
There is no evidence of wrongdoing by CJI regarding the alleged activities that border on a threat to national security or massive corruption.
Secondly, some government departments openly undermine Magosi’s claims. Justice Isaac Lesetedi of the Court of the Appeal is on record stating that the withdrawal of Maun Waterworks tender awarded to CJI was on the adverse advice of the DIS. Justices Khan and Dube dismissed submissions by DIS as having no evidential value.
Whilst CJI might have lost in court, the losses were not about the broad threat to national security or massive corruption as alleged by Magosi.
Even independent IEC were quick to rebuff attempts by the henchman to purchase some Swedish equipment all in the name of securing our electoral process. In Magosi’s warped view, there is a potential of rigging, a needs assessment which only he knows the origins of.
The fourth point to ponder points to the inconsistency government’s stance. The so called effort to end corruption by multinationals was only focused on one company: CJI. The withdrawal of the Maun tender and the Moshupa shenanigans were no coincidence and suggest a politically motivated assault.
To rub salt into the wounded Magosi, CJI were last week announced as part of a joint venture in the upgrade of three intersections in Gaborone. Unlike MLMWS and Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure, did the Ministry of Transport choose to ignore the henchman’s advice?
The efficient functioning of public procurement may be distorted by the problems of collusion or corruption or both. Collusion involves a relationship between bidders who conspire to remove the element of competition from the process. Corruption occurs where public officials use powers derived from a public office in exchange for granting a tender. Personal gain in this context can be a complex web.
When the sum is huge, so is the margin of gain. An old boys’ network of greedy politicians and opportunists surpass criminal masterminds in systematically rigging public tenders, inflating costs and pocketing the difference.
The larger the amount the more the desire to railroad winning bidders giving rise to post award corruption. The Ministry of Lands Management, Water and Sanitation (MLMWS), a fifth factor in this maze of graft, seems the common denominator in many suspicious dealings.
Ultimately these discrete offences have the same effect: a public contract is awarded on a basis other than fair competition and the merit of the successful contractor. Maximum value for public money is not achieved.
In the Maun waterworks tender the net loss on savings from the awarded bidder is P305million. These actions, and many more, send a clear signal: in this administration, corruption is not just accepted, it is encouraged.
Magosi could be perceived as the tip of the titanic iceberg in the creation of a culture of corruption, where it’s expected that those with public power will wield it for gains, and possibly for the benefit of others. And this culture has, in turn, attracted those who are themselves corrupt and seeking to profit from this opportunity.
This culture of corruption has wide-ranging effects. When the interests of the politically connected are put first, it’s at the expense of citizens.
When the interests of foreign governments are put first, it’s at the expense of Botswana’s safety. And when the priorities of elected leaders are shaped only by those with money or power, then citizen needs remain unmet.
A culture of corruption also weakens society as a whole. It leads to a perverse set of incentives, where those who are corrupt advance, while those who are honest are forced out of positions of power.
In the extended attempt to curb corruption, a sixth element in this corruption laden massacre of the righteous, Magosi accuses some Project Management Office (PMO) employees in MLMWS of living beyond their means.
There is a concerted effort to break up this hybrid office of excellence. What we are witnessing is a purge in the early exposures on the capture of state resources? What is at play is a case of one group devouring the other.
A few years from now, a new administration will expose these and only then we will we once again see that indeed when two thieves fight, it is the loot that is exposed.
Evident is an embodiment of a venal culture of control of state resources for personal aggrandisement and political ends. Those in power seem more concerned with loyalty, as opposed to whether an individual can effectively perform their job. People are not judged by their ability to do their job, but rather on their ability to conceal or participate in unethical, and even illegal, behaviour.
Corruption leads to misplaced priorities from lawmakers as politicians can adopt the priorities of the very wealthy as their own. Moreover, it weakens the societal trust that is the cornerstone of a robust economy and civil society. The wastage of and abuse of public funds is overshadowed by cronyism and incompetence.
Every time civilized society is established, invaders attack and destroy its history, re-writing what they intend it to be and cultivating an inner circle unburdened by legal or moral scruples.
Most emperors are described as great because no one dares to write against them. The truth might be that the hunter backstabbed the lion and killed it without even an iota of resistance.
As Edmund Burke observed, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.