DEFEAT CORRUPTION Botswana’s Citizen Economic Empowerment for naturalized citizens
BY GOGONTLEJANG PHALADI
I am writing this with a lot of frustrations and if you don’t feel you understand nor concur with my sentiments, feel free to keep scrolling and not fight.
At some point we have to all agree that we are fed-up with politicians using the “fighting corruption” narrative to win favour but barely do much to be better once in power. Am giving this perspective as a trend I’ve noticed across Africa. Many of our stakeholders are actually not fighting corruption but they like the idea of appearing as though they are fighting corruption. Many of our potential and current leaders are not fighting the system to change it but they are fighting it to enter it so that they can benefit from it. Fighting corruption has become like a reality show – all about publicity but nothing concrete. We are just in an endless show where we see many PR stunts of people being accused of corruption, they throw in some drama to be convincing and then the emotionally moving speeches about how corruption won’t be tolerated. After the act has out-lived its PR relevance, it dies off and life continues until another juicy catch comes up and the whole reality TV circus begins again. We hardly ever hear of prosecution, convictions, people getting fired, money being returned, penalties being enforced. The dramatisation of corruption is more theatrical that any play you will ever watch.
Most disappointingly, politicians know that we are all sick and tired of corruption so they know that if they focus their campaign speeches on that, we will definitely vote for them. There is nothing in Africa that earns your votes than the promise to put an end to corruption, get rid of corrupt people, recover assets lost to corruption and strengthen our institutional capacity to fight corruption. Rightfully so!! Corruption robs us off better livelihoods, an impediment to development and a threat to every potential the country and nation holds. The total money that Africa loses to corruption annually is more than the total development assistance it receives. Many countries in Africa are unable to finance its core sectors and are poor mainly because of corruption not because of lack of capacity to be self sufficient. Look at the richest country in Africa (by Mineral wealth) DRC. Even big economies like Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, etc …. upper middle countries like Botswana with a high GDP, small population and producing the best diamonds by value globally – corruption has paralyzed us. For a country with our economic and political profile, we should not be struggling with unemployment (higher especially when you include underemployment), we should be able to give everyone reliable consistent water and electricity supply, but poor access to electricity is among the top reasons why we rank poorly in the ease of doing business (ranked 87). A population of just 2 million but I still have to go to Metsimotlhabe clinic at 5am, waiting for it to open at 7:30am in order to see the doctor at 10am. The student: teacher ratio is still very high, schools and health posts operating at constrained capacity. Citizen economic empowerment seems to majorly be empowering naturalized citizens more than indigenous/ native citizens. So much money poured into initiatives that are only mandated to push political expediency and corruption but do nothing to improve livelihoods. Many of us in this diamond capital are just getting by, whether employed or unemployed we are all the same – we are living to survive each day. Sometimes you wonder whether it’s better to just stay home or wake up everyday to go to work to earn a salary that is only enough to take you to work and put something in your stomach. We watch as non-natives own so much land but we have to wait for 20 to get allocated or buy – but how do you afford to buy land when you are barely managing to pay your necessities. We come up with ideas, solutions and innovations that are overlooked or stolen. We have to watch as those who choose to be corrupt thrive while the majority fight for bread crumps. We read stories of how someone came with only $20 and turned it into $200 million and we wonder what it is that we are doing wrong with our 200 pulas. But the truth is that, that narrative doesn’t mention the political connections, sabotages, favours and unlawful dealings that went into “building that empire”.
All these because of corruption. We are good at tackling low level corruption but not at high level corruption. If a junior officer takes a bribe, we know their fate will be sealed soon enough – fired!! But a high level politician can enrich themselves and nothing ever really happens. But every election period, we keep getting promises that corruption will be fought concretely and successfully. Not long after that, we start seeing the leader fighting corruption with one hand, using the other hand to also enrich themselves. We are not even asking for much, just decent livelihoods, universal health coverage, quality education, humane living wage and an opportunity to lead fulfilling lives. But greedy politicians refuse to give us because their greed forces them to take everything.
We can’t continue like this. We should stop allowing politicians to use their fake anti-corruption slogans to buy our votes. We need results, evidence and proper transformation. Candy floss and cosmetic tinkering speeches won’t cut it. Defeat corruption