Gaborone — Botswana is a shining light and beacon of hope in the fight against corruption in Africa and has one of the best anti-corruption profiles on the continent. The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Regional Director for Southern Africa, Said Adejumobi noted. He further opined that that Botswana is one of the best governed countries on the continent, where institutions work and resources are well utilised. He made this remark at the official opening of the regional conference on the theme "Corruption and the Challenge of Economic Transformation in Southern Africa" in Gaborone, Botswana on 18th June 2018.
Adejumobi stressed that the choice of Botswana to host the regional conference was not a coincidence because the country is a success story in fighting corruption. Botswana, he added, was well placed to champion the anti-corruption agenda in Southern Africa and to encourage other African countries to follow suit.
He further noted that corruption has had a corrosive effect on Africa's development. It has weakened public institutions, distorted resource allocation, and affected the quality and scope of the delivery of social services and devalued state and society. For things to change, Adejumobi observed, "good and progressive leadership can make a qualitative difference, it can help build institutions, diffuse the tensions and high premiums often associated with the struggle for power and curb corruption in the state and society,"
Meanwhile, the President of the Republic of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, who was the Guest of Honour at the opening ceremony called on governments to put in place sound policies in fighting corruption. He noted that good policies on accounting, internal controls and auditing systems, and strong capacity for anti-corruption and oversight institutions and the existence of the rule of law and due process are essential in fighting corruption.
He stressed that, Botswana has made strides in fighting corruption by putting in place a number of relevant legal instruments such as the Proceeds and Instruments of Crime Act and Whistle Blowing Act. Additionally, he said Botswana established a specialised corruption court. "We are going to table a Bill in Parliament on Declaration of Assets and Liabilities which will cover all top government officials including the executive," he said.
President Masisi further commended the organisers of the conference for successfully bringing together different stakeholders including academics, policy makers, development practitioners, and heads of anti-corruption agencies in the region saying it was a step in the right direction towards zero tolerance for corruption.
He further commended United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Union Southern Africa Office (AUSARO) for organising the conference aimed at building capacity on efficient and devising practical solutions in combating corruption.
On his part, Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Mr Nonofo Molefhi said the conference was significant to Botswana as the country has set targets for fighting corruption in all its manifestations. "It is therefore encouraging to us to engage, interact, exchange views and in the process, receive guidance and direction from those of you who have a commitment in their own countries to fight corruption," he said.
Mr Molefhi said Botswana has institutionalised anti-corruption ideals across government and parastatal organisations and local authority in order to root out the corruption scourge. "I want to assure you that Botswana is open to business of hosting conferences, to apply the lessons for further improvement on our efforts as a country," he said.
And in his keynote address, former President of Liberia, Prof. Amos Sawyer underscored the need to intensify and elevate the conversation about the relationship between political parties, especially ruling parties and legislatures in the promotion of good governance. "I think appropriate institutions which operate at national and regional levels can take the lead", he said. He observed that rules of political parties pertaining to their internal governance, selection of leaders and candidates directly affect the quality of governance not only of political parties themselves but the quality of governance in the entire political system.
And speaking at the same event, African Union Commission representative, Leopold-Auguste Ngomo, said like cancer, corruption destroys systems. He called on African states to move towards zero tolerance of corruption by bringing the culprits to book.
The regional conference is organized by the UNECA, Southern Africa Office, African Union, Southern Africa Office and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime of Botswana. It is from 18-20 June 2018 in Gaborone, Botswana and will be followed by a "Consultative Meeting of National Anti-Corruption Institutions" from 21-22 June 2018.