Of Maele’s “P250 K” and Mzwinila’s ‘water gun’
It raises serious questions and suspicion when ministers serving under outgoing Botswana President Ian Khama start outgunning each other in public displays where they seem eager to give the president ‘big’ farewell presents.
UDC President Duma Boko recently sounded the alarm at the conduct of public officers and other people who continue to shower the president with an assortment of gifts that include cash and machinery, saying the scenario which now seems to involve coercion, makes for a ripe environment for corruption as it is not clear why the president, a man of so much means is not shy to receive the sort of gifts whose profile keeps growing.
While Kefentse Mzwinila and Prince Maele may not be committing any crime, Batswana must ask themselves serious questions about what they and others who continue to raise the bar with expensive gifts are thanking the president for to be so motivated to gift him guns in a country where gun laws are ordinarily stern or pledges amounting to £19,000 or $26,000- which are not exactly small change.
The argument that Batswana are a giving nation is being peddled to bar scrutiny which seeks to establish whether or not there is corrupt conduct involved when powerful people are involved in what looks like acts of kindness, when there is enough experience in Africa to suggest that these types of gifts are not exchanged for nothing.
Patronage in Botswana makes corruption a very high risk because while it is presented as innocuous or as ‘a show of respect’, the reality is that it often fits the scenario of Political Corruption, that is- the abuse of public power, office, or resources by elected government officials for personal gain, by extortion, soliciting or offering bribes.
Maele or Mzwinila do not have to have done anything wrong for these questions to arise but however, because they are minister and deputy minister in Khama’s government, the bar is raised high for them- if it appears that there could be more to their gestures. It becomes more curious given the ongoing investigations on Maele by DCEC after he was found with cash amounting to P300 000 in his house last year.
It is more concerning when gifts are exchanged by members of the executive, an arm of government which is already difficult to scrutinize, especially when officials exchanging gifts are in the same chain of command- as the president and the two ministers are.
Instead of being defensive about this scrutiny, ministers and public officers should assure Batswana that their conduct during the president’s farewell tour is above board.