Recently, there has been troubling reports of corruption, with allegations that some in power and those close to power are involved in corrupt practices which have regrettably resulted in the looting of the public coffers.
It is common cause that some of these incidents have resulted in court proceedings and such cases are still pending before the courts. In deference to the sub judicae rule, we shall not refer to such cases or any case pending before the courts. Rather, what we shall do is to consider Botswana’s corruption ratings in comparison to other countries the world over. In doing this, we hope statistics will either approve or disprove the growing perception that Botswana is becoming more corrupt.
In this exercise, we shall rely on the report provided by Transparency International through its 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index. The results therefrom are in respect of the period between 2006 and 2016 and they involve 176 countries, including Botswana. The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. A country or territory's rank indicates its position relative to the other countries and territories in the index.
According to the report, which was last updated this month, Botswana’s corruption ranking averaged 30.68 from 1998 until 2016, reaching an all-time high of 38 in 2007 and a record low of 23 in 1998. Perhaps the reason why Botswana’s corruption ranking reached an all-time high of 38 in 2007 is because of the world economic meltdown which saw Botswana, like many other countries, experiencing financial doldrums which may have pushed some to resort to corrupt practices.
Botswana ranked at positions 38, 36, 37, 33, 32, 30, 30, 31, 28 and 35 for the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively. Denmark is the least corrupt country whose last and previous ranking was position 1. While its highest ranking has been position 4 its lowest ranking has been position 1. Our neighbor, Zambia, is the average performing country in terms of corruption rankings. While its last ranking was position 87 its previous ranking was position 76. Its highest ranking is position 123 while its lowest ranking is position 52.
At almost the same position as South Sudan, Somalia is the most corrupt country whose last ranking was position 176 while its previous ranking was position 163. Its highest ranking is position 175 while its lowest ranking is position 163. Related to the Corruption Ranking is Botswana’s Corruption Index whose unit of measure is points. Botswana’s last corruption index was 60.00 with its previous corruption index having been 63.00 points. While Botswana’s highest corruption index was 65.00 its lowest corruption index was 54.00.
No doubt, Botswana’s corruption index and ranking have affected other indicators which are cardinal to its economic and political outlook. These are, inter alia, competitiveness index, competitiveness ranking and business confidence. While Botswana’s last competitiveness index was 4.30 its previous competitiveness index is 4.29. Botswana’s highest competitiveness index is 4.30 with its lowest being 3.96.
Botswana’s last competitiveness ranking was position 63 while its previous competitiveness ranking was position 64. Botswana’s highest competitiveness ranking has been position 80 while its lowest competitiveness ranking is position 56. Botswana’s last business confidence was 48% while its previous business confidence was 43%. The highest Botswana has ever scored in business confidence is 82% while its lowest score is an abysmal 28%.
What is even more worrisome is the fact that Botswana’s corruption ranking is projected to worsen. Botswana’s Corruption Rank is expected to be 33.00 by the end of this quarter, according to Trading Economics global macro models and analysts’ expectations. In the long-term, the Botswana Corruption Rank is projected to trend around 33.00 in 2020, according to Trading Economics econometric models. This, despite the preventative campaigns that have been waged by such entities as the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).
Some have argued that the reason why corruption is not in the decline in Botswana is that the DCEC, because of political control, is hindered in its efforts to fight corruption in relation to those in power and close to power. Rather, the DCEC has dealt with the ‘small fish’ whose prosecution, though important in the overall fight against corruption and economic crime, makes very little difference in the wider scheme of things.
They have cited the sudden redeployment of the former DCEC Director General, Rose Seretse, and her replacement by former Botswana Police Service’s Deputy Commissioner (Support Services), Victor Paledi, whom some claim is closer to power. It ought to be stated that the claim in relation to Paledi has not been substantiated by facts. They have also cited the disbanding of DCEC’s Special Investigation and Intelligence Unit which they claim has weakened the DCEC’s investigative prowess. They also claim that this negatively affected high level pending investigation involving senior government officials, politicians and politically connected individuals.
According to these people the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) has been used to obstruct DCEC’s investigations, especially when they involve senior government officials, politicians and politically connected individuals. Back to the question whether or not Botswana is becoming more corrupt? From 2006 to 2015 there was a steady decline in corruption, but in 2016 it rose back to the 2007 era. This may not be enough to make any conclusions because it entails only one year.
It ought to be stated that this decline in corruption, albeit modest, occurred during President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s tenure. For this he ought to be commended for the decline was in part because of his efforts. Though some say he did not put emphasis on the fight against corruption and economic crime in the latter years of his presidency, it is common course that he did at the beginning of his term and more so when he was Vice President.
Yet, his legacy will forever be tainted by the perception that he failed to reign on the corruption by the ‘big fish’, whom some claim are his associates. His legacy will also be tainted by the perception that he allowed the DISS’s usurpation of the powers of the DCEC to protect his associates. It ought to be stated that these allegations have not been substantiated by facts.
But, the fact that we regressed, especially in 2016 when we were marking not only fifty years of independence, but also the fruition of Vision 2016 and the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals is disconcerting. This decline cannot be excused by the argument that other countries are improving because that will effectively mean that we are becoming worse. In other words, we are becoming more corrupt as a nation.
It is vices like corruption which ultimately put a country’s peace and stability in jeopardy. And we, the beacon of democracy and peace and stability not only in Africa, but also in the world, cannot afford such a taint in our image, just because of a few individuals’ insatiable desire for wealth. It is such vices as corruption which destroy a country’s economy as has happened to such countries as Zimbabwe, Libya, Somalia and Yemen which are, for all intents and purposes, failed states, many of which have been ravaged by civil war or strife.
As far-fetched as it may seem, Botswana may fall from grace and join the league of failed nations, which are mostly in Africa, just because of this cancer called corruption if we do not reprioritize the fight against corruption and economic crime. So, one can answer the question whether or not Botswana is becoming more corrupt in the affirmative because we fell from position 28 in 2015 to position 35 in 2016. In a period of only one year we fell by seven points.
In fact, the situation could be worse than it is because our current ratings have not taken the corruption in the private sector and parastatal organisations into consideration. Yet, you and I know that corruption is rife in parastatal organisations and private companies where government is a shareholder.
Villagers in the eastern Okavango region are now using an alert system which warns them when collared lions approach livestock areas. The new technology is now regarded as a panacea to the human/wildlife conflict in the area as it has reduced mass poisoning and killing of lions by farmers.
The technology is being implemented by an NGO, Community Living Among Wildlife Sustainably (CLAWS) within the five villages of Seronga, Gunutsoga, Eretsha, Beetsha and Gudigwa in the eastern part of the Okavango delta.
A Carnivore Ecologist from CLAWS, Dr Andrew Stein explained that around 2013, villagers in the eastern Okavango were having significant problems with losses of their cattle to predators specifically lions, so the villagers resorted to using poison and shooting the lions in order to reduce their numbers.
He highlighted that as a form of progressive intervention, they designed a programme to reduce the conflicts and promote coexistence. Another component of the programme is communal herding, introduced in 2018 to reduce the conflict by increasing efficiency whereby certified herders monitor livestock health and protect them from predators, allowing community members to engage in other livelihood activities knowing that their livestock are safe.
They are now two herds with 600 and 230 cattle respectively with plan to expand the programme to other neighbouring villages. Currently the programme is being piloted in Eretsha, one of the areas with most conflict incidences per year.
Dr Stein explained that they have developed the first of its kind alert system whereby when the lions get within three or five kilometers of a cattllepost or a homestead upon the five villages, then it will release an alert system going directly to the cellphones of individuals living within the affected area or community.
‘So, if a colored lion gets to about five kilometers of Eretsha village or any villagers in the Eretsha that has signed up for, the system will receive an SMS of the name of the lion and its distance to or from the village”, he stated. He added that this enables villagers to take preventative action to reduce conflicts before its starts.
Dr Stein noted that some respond by gathering their cattle and put them in a kraal or put them in an enclosure making sure that the enclosure is secure while some people will gather firewood and light small fires around edges of the kraal to prevent lions from coming closer and some when they receive the SMS they send their livestock to the neighbours alerting them about the presence of lions.
He noted that 125 people have signed to receive the alert system within Seronga, Eretsha, Beetsha, Gunutsoga and Gudigwa. He added that each homestead is about five people and this means more than 600 people immediately receive the messages about lions when they approach their villages. He also noted that last year they dispersed over 12 000 alerts, adding that this year is a bit higher as about 20 000 alerts have been sent so far across these villages.
Stein further noted that they have been significant changes in the behavior of the villagers as they are now tolerant to lions. “85 percent were happy with the SMS and people are becoming more tolerant with living with lions because they have more information to reduce the conflicts,” he stressed.
Stein noted that since the start of the programme in 2014 they have seen lion populations rebounds almost completely to a level before and they have not recorded cases of lion poisoning in the last three years which is commendable effort.
Monnaleso Sanga from Eretsha village applauded the programme by CLAWS noting that farmers in the area are benefiting through the alert system and take preventative measures to reduce human/lion conflict which has been persistent in the area. He added that numbers of cattle killed by lions have reduced immensely. He also admitted that they are now tolerant to lions and they no longer kill nor poison them.
A Muslim is supposed to be and should be a living example of the teachings of the Quran and the ‘Sunnah’ (the teachings and living examples of Prophet Muhammed (SAW – Peace be upon Him). We should follow these in all affairs, relations, and situations – starting with our relationship with our Lord, our own self, our family and the people around us. One of the distinguishing features of the (ideal) Muslim is his faith in Allah, and his conviction that whatever happens in the universe and whatever befalls him, only happens through the will and the decree of the Almighty Allah.
A Muslim should know and feel that he is in constant need of the help and support of Allah, no matter how much he may think he can do for himself. He has no choice in his life but to submit to the will of his Creator, worship Him, strive towards the Right Path and do good deeds. This will guide him to be righteous and upright in all his deeds, both in public and in private.
His attitude towards his body, mind and soul
The Muslim pays attention to his body’s physical, intellectual and spiritual needs. He takes good care of his body, promoting its good health and strength. He shouldn’t eat in excess; but he should eat enough to maintain his health and energy. Allah, The Exalted, Says “…Eat and drink; but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters.” [Quran 7: 31]
The Muslim should keep away from alcohol and drugs. He should also try to exercise regularly to maintain his physical fitness. The Muslim also keeps his body and clothes clean, he bathes frequently. The Prophet placed a great emphasis on cleanliness and bathing. A Muslim is also concerned with his clothing and appearance but in accordance with the Islamic ideal of moderation, avoiding the extremes.
As for his intellectual care, the Muslim should take care of his mind by pursuing beneficial knowledge. It is his responsibility to seek knowledge whether it is religious or secular, so he may understand the nature and the essence of things. Allah Says: “…and say: My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.” [Quran 20: 114
The Muslim should not forget that man is not only composed of a body and a mind, but that he also possesses a soul and a spirit. Therefore, the Muslim pays as much attention to his spiritual development as to his physical and intellectual development, in a balanced manner which ideally does not concentrate on one aspect to the detriment of others.
His attitude towards people
The Muslim must treat his parents with kindness and respect, compassion, politeness and deep gratitude. He recognizes their status and knows his duties towards them. Allah Says “And serve Allah. Ascribe nothing as partner unto Him. (Show) kindness unto parents…” [Quran 4: 36]
With his wife, the Muslim should exemplify good and kind treatment, intelligent handling, deep understanding of the nature and psychology of women, and proper fulfilment of his responsibilities and duties.
With his children, the Muslim is a parent who should understand his responsibility towards their good upbringing, showing them love and compassion, influence their Islamic development and giving them proper education, so that they become active and constructive elements in society, and a source of goodness for their parents, community, and society as a whole.
With his relatives, the Muslim maintains the ties of kinship and knows his duties towards them. He understands the high status given to relatives in Islam, which makes him keep in touch with them, no matter what the circumstances.
With his neighbours, the Muslim illustrates good treatment, kindness and consideration of others’ feelings and sensitivities. He turns a blind eye to his neighbour’s faults while taking care not to commit any such errors himself. The Muslim relationship with his wider circle of friends is based on love for the sake of Allah. He is loyal and does not betray them; he is sincere and does not cheat them; he is gentle, tolerant and forgiving; he is generous and he supplicates for them.
In his social relationships with all people, the Muslim should be well-mannered, modest and not arrogant. He should not envy others, fulfils his promises and is cheerful. He is patient and avoids slandering and uttering obscenities. He should not unjustly accuse others nor should he interfere in that which does not concern him. He refrains from gossiping, spreading slander and stirring up trouble – avoids false speech and suspicion. When he is entrusted with a secret, he keeps it. He respects his elders. He mixes with the best of people. He strives to reconcile between the Muslims. He visits the sick and attends funerals. He returns favours and is grateful for them. He calls others to Islam with wisdom, example and beautiful preaching. He should guide people to do good and always make things easy and not difficult.
The Muslim should be fair in his judgments, not a hypocrite, a sycophant or a show-off. He should not boast about his deeds and achievements. He should be straightforward and never devious or twisted, no matter the circumstances. He should be generous and not remind others of his gifts or favours. Wherever possible he relieves the burden of the debtor. He should be proud and not think of begging.
These are the standards by which the (ideal) Muslim is expected to structure his life on. Now how do I measure up and fit into all this? Can I honestly say that I really try to live by these ideals and principles; if not can I really call myself a true Muslim?
For the ease of writing this article I have made use of for want of a better word, the generic term ‘he’, ‘his’, ‘him’ and the ‘male’ gender, but it goes without saying that these standards apply equally to every female and male Muslim.
“Homicide and suicide kill almost 7000 children every year; one in four of all children are born to unmarried mothers, many of whom are children themselves…..children’s potential lost to spirit crushing poverty….children’s hearts lost in divorce and custody battles….children’s lives lost to abuse and violence, our society lost to itself, as we fail our children.” “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.” (Quotation taken from a book written by Hillary Clinton).
These words may well apply to us here in Botswana; We are also experiencing a series of challenges in many spheres of development and endeavour but none as challenging as the long term effects of what is going to happen to our youth of today. One of the greatest challenges facing us as parents today is how to guide our youth to become the responsible adults that we wish them to be, tomorrow.
In Islam Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has enjoined upon the parents to take care of the moral and religious instruction of their children from the very beginning, otherwise they will be called to account for negligence on the Day of Judgement. Parents must inculcate God-consciousness in their children from an early age, whereby the children will gain an understanding of duty to The Creator.
The Holy Qur’an says: ‘O you who believe! Save yourself and your families from the Fire of Hell’. (Ch. 66: V6). This verse places the responsibility on the shoulders of the parents to ensure that training and guidance begin at home. The goal is to mould the child into a solid Islamic personality, with good morals, strong Islamic principles, knowledge and behavior so as to be equipped to face the demands of life in a responsible and mature manner. This should begin with the proper environment at home that inculcates the best moral and behavioral standards.
But what do we have instead? Believers of all Religious persuasions will agree that we have children growing up without parental guidance, a stable home environment, without role models, being brought up in surroundings that are not conducive to proper upbringing and moulding of well-adjusted children. These children are being brought up devoid of any parental guidance and increasingly the desperate situation of orphaned children having to raise their siblings (children raising children) because their parents have succumbed to the scourge of AIDS.
It is becoming common that more and more girls still in their schooling years are now falling pregnant, most of them unwanted, with the attendant responsibilities and difficulties.
Observe the many young ladies who are with children barely in their teens having illegitimate children. In the recent past there was a campaign focused on the ‘girl-child’; this campaign targeted this group of young females who had fallen pregnant and were now mothers. The situation is that the mother still being just a ‘child’ and not even having tasted adulthood, now has the onerous responsibility of raising her own child most of the time on her own because either the father has simply disappeared, refuses to takes responsibility, or in some cases not even known.
We cannot place the entire blame on these young mothers; as parents and society as a whole stand accused because we have shirked our responsibilities and worse still we ourselves are poor role models. The virtual breakdown of the extended family system and of the family unit in many homes means that there are no longer those safe havens of peace and tranquility that we once knew. How then do we expect to raise well-adjusted children in this poisoned atmosphere?
Alcohol has become socially acceptable and is consumed by many of our youth and alarmingly they are now turning to drugs. Alcohol is becoming so acceptable that it is easily accessible even at home where some parents share drinks with their children or buying it for them. This is not confined only to low income families it is becoming prevalent amongst our youth across the board.
It is frightening to witness how our youth are being influenced by blatantly suggestive pop culture messages over television, music videos and other social media. Children who are not properly grounded in being able to make rational and informed decisions between what is right and what is wrong are easily swayed by this very powerful medium.
So what do we do as parents? We first have to lead by example; it is no longer the parental privilege to tell the child ‘do as I say not as I do’- that no longer works. The ball is in the court of every religious leader (not some of the charlatans who masquerade as religious leaders), true adherents and responsible parents. We cannot ignore the situation we have to take an active lead in guiding and moulding our youth for a better tomorrow.
In Islam Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “No father gives a better gift to his children than good manners and good character.” Children should be treated not as a burden, but a blessing and trust of Allah, and brought up with care and affection and taught proper responsibilities etiquettes and behaviour.
Even the Bible says; ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein’. (Mark 10:14-15)
The message is clear and needs to be taken by all of us: Parents let us rise to the occasion – we owe it to our children and their future.