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Trading in the Crown Jewels!

According to the testimony of the then Attorney General, M.D. Mokama, Dr Peter Eigen, as a World Bank and Ford Foundation consultant, gave invaluable service to this government in the early 1970s.

It is ironical therefore that his establishment of Transparency International in 1993 has been so very damaging to this country.

I have no idea about Transparency’s methodology or its success in other parts of the world but it is only too obvious that it has provided this government with a certificate of international repute which enables it year by year to laud its achievements as being the most, the least and best country in Africa.

Or was it the world? And this, as the reported, visible rot appears to have taken hold in many of the parastatals and amongst the upper echelons of government.

The impression gained by many that the government is rotten through and through must be deeply disturbing to those civil servants who hold fast to their values and do their utmost to serve the country as best they may.

But how can they, or indeed ourselves, react, other than with shock and dismay to two reports in the Patriot (December 4). The first stated that DCEC investigators arrived at the SPEDU office in Phikwe as the wife of an MP was being interviewed for a job for which she was ill-qualified. The interview was abruptly terminated.

The report forbore to give the name of the MP or his wife or indeed to suggest who might have had the clout to instruct SPEDU to give the lady the job. Shades of Tourism and David Newman’s wife who was, by report, offered a job in New York for which she too was ill-qualified.

 In contrast, the formidably qualified and now suspended CEO, Dr Mokobung had hinted to friends that, ‘ there were too many political appointees and interference which was hindering him from carrying out his mandate’.

Can it get any grimmer? Sadly the answer seems to be ‘yes’ as the Patriot’s other reports made clear.  Firstly, the BOTS50 budget was P100 million - although P130 Million was actually spent which we already knew. Apparently no problem.  Secondly, ‘Mongwaketse (of the BOTS50 Committee)  admitted that paying Red Pepper P7.2 million was fraudulent.’ No problem. 

Thirdly, P1.2 million and a P60, 000 consultation fee was paid to D.M. Mthimkulu Attorneys. The law firm is owned by Meshack Mtimbkulu, a former BNF firebrand who defected to the Democratic Party (BDP) in December last year. Surprise, surprise.

Therefore, once again, no

problem. Transparency’s methodology may blind it to these realities but this is straightforward, blatant corruption by the State. Incredibly it appears to believe that these ugly, sordid fiddles are normal and justified and involve no conflict of values, morality or even religious belief.  Seemingly, the BDP’s addiction to power has brought it to the point, as is invariably the way in such situations, that it believes that it is holding true to all three. 

Almost anything goes, however, which will help to ensure that it doesn’t lose the next election. If it does, the country’s fate may rest with the BDF. If it wins, many will be wondering what kind of government it might construct?

Will access to the goodies prove enough to keep all on board or, at some stage, will there be a split? It may be that matters will not develop in this way.

It may be that the twin strategy of buying off the poor with blankets will do the trick on the one hand and pandering to the more avaricious of the well entrenched will work a charm with the other.

The one is a very visible process being regularly publicised by BTV. The other is largely invisible, but has been much exposed in the last few weeks by the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee. Sadly, this is a two-way process, not simply one way.

 If the one finds it easy to buy peoples’ support, the other appears to be involved in a feeding frenzy with many seizing their opportunity to steal and defraud knowing that their back is covered from the law and even more woefully, from the taxpayer and the worst off of the country’s poor.

It has been a conviction held by many that the government’s hand out programme has been responsible for weakening the self-reliance of the poor. Perhaps. But what is now abundantly clear is that many individuals, backed by the State, are now seizing the opportunity offered them to get their hands into the till.

Even clearer, perhaps, has been the way that the country’s most precious of its hard won assets, not least those bequeathed to it by previous Presidents, are being traded in for short term, possibly illusory gain.  It is an astonishing scenario, and one which is desperately painful to witness.

Etcetera II



Extension: State Of Emergency

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