- Tax dodging is unpatriotic
- Journalists must expose corruption
- Leaders resign around the world
“The current government is failing to communicate their stand on the matter because they know that it will open up a can of worms for many in the echelons power.”
Former National Assembly Speaker Dr Margret Nasha has criticized the government of Botswana for its “deafening silence” following Panama Papers leaks which revealed that Court of Appeal Judge president Ian Kirby had secretly invested millions in a notorious tax haven.
Nasha is of the view that Kirby, by virtue of his stature, being implicated in at least seven offshore investments between 2005 and 2009, with ties to a discredited Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, Botswana’s voice should be loud.Nasha reiterated this at a political rally in Francistown over the weekend, saying the matter was an issue of national interest and must be treated as such.
“The whole world is alert to the Panama leaks and countries continue to speak out concerning their own citizens implicated, and the question is why are we silent when our very own citizen is also implicated. This person holds one of the highest offices here and we should be concerned,” she said.
Nasha told Francistown residents that there can only be one explanation to government’s silence and that is- there is more to what has been revealed. She said government was failing to communicate their stand on the matter because they know that it would open up a can of worms for many who hold high positions of power.
She argued further that it was unpatriotic for people to be dodging tax since those funds deprive the nation of developments.
“We have leaders in the current government, who go around accusing the opposition of being unpatriotic, but here is a situation now which needs their attention as far as patriotism is concerned; they are silent.”“What kind of leadership is that? We should be having leadership which is more concerned about serious matters and quick to act accordingly when such issues arise,” she said.
The behaviour displayed by the current regime, Nasha said, was influenced by the fact that corruption is endemic at the top. She said they were afraid to speak against things in the Panama Papers leaks because they maybe be implicated themselves in a way. “Their silence can only be interpreted to a government or leaders who are protecting their own interests, and if that is not so we want to hear that,” she said.
Nasha called on Batswana to speak against the culture cultivated by the current government where ‘silence is maintained whenever there are serious matters of governance’ as this has led to a lot of people getting away with corruption and being comfortable with it.
“This is a government which will rather reprimand whistle blowers than have a law in place to protect them. There is no government anywhere, which does not have whistle blowers because they help curb white-collar crime. But here we have journalists jailed for exposing corruption and whistle blowers intimidated at all costs for people to get away with corruption,” she said.
She encouraged all Batswana to continue leaking information to journalists as long as they are exposing corruption, as that is a way of being patriotic and safe guarding the integrity of the country.
“We cannot be seen hating on journalist and whistle blowers only because we do not want to address the elephant in the room. This people exist to protect the country. I advise them to continue writing and exposing all the wrong doings in this country,” she said.
In an exclusive interview with media last week, Judge Kirby said he had not done anything wrong and that he was not aware of where his companies were going to be registered; he also stated that he would not resign, but was prepared to step down if asked to.
Speaking to The Botswana Gazette last week, the opposition called for his resignation. Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament Noah Salakae said Kirby’s resignation should be automatic; “Botswana has honoured Kirby with a very high position and he should have been appreciative of that gesture and not (had) offshore investments where he would not pay tax,” he said.
RESIGNATIONS OVER PANAMA PAPERS
* Spain’s Minister of Industry Jose Manuel Soria resigned on Friday after facing pressure after his offshore companies were revealed in the Panama Papers. He is also resigned as Member of Parliament.
*In Armenia, the head of State Bailiffs Service also resigned after reports documented his alleged links to offshore companies.
*The UK Guardian also reported that Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, facing calls for his resignation as a result of his family’s holdings in offshore companies, checked himself into a London hospital this week, setting off speculation that he might not return to Pakistan.
*Iceland Prime Minister was the first to resign from office after protests over Panama Papers revelation.
*The Times of Malta also reported that, the country’s opposition demanded resignation of the prime Minister after senior people in his government were named the Panama Papers.
“Two people named in the Panama Scandal were closest to the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister should have taken action eight weeks ago. But he opted not to do anything creating major uncertainty. This made him the problem so he had to go,” The Times of Malta reported.
*Last week Tuesday media reports indicated that Panama Organized crime prosecutors raided the offices of the Mossack Fonseca law firm looking for evidence of money laundering and tax evasion.
*The South African Financial Services Board also issued a statement to the effect that the tax investigating agency will open investigations on individuals named in the Panama papers.