According to the King’s Code, Corporate Governance is defined as the exercise of ethical and effective leadership by the governing body towards the achievement of the following governance outcomes, namely: (i) ethical culture; (ii) Good performance; (iii) effective control; and (iv) legitimacy. The definition is quite packed but one can, without dwelling into specifics, deduce what it calls for. In light of the above definition can we say we have a good corporate governance culture in Botswana? I would like to argue in the negative as I will try to demonstrate below.
The ongoing saga relating to the alleged looting of the National Petroleum fund is indicative of the extent of the rot in our governance structures. The alleged corruption does not surprise me a bit. This is Africa after all, right? Of course. What boggles my mind and has for the past years is the decision by those in positions of power and public trust to continue to hold such offices in the face of corruption accusations.
The decisions by those in positions of power and public trust to continue holding their offices as if its business as usual casts doubt over our ethical culture (business ethics). Are we that shameless as a people? Don’t we know which lines not to cross or what to do once those have been crossed? Who are we? These questions shouldn’t beg for answers but should answer themselves. Well, apparently not. We seem not to have an ethical compass as a nation. We let everyone do as they please as the country is headed for the dogs. Botswana is all but a scavenger’s paradise.
In the latest episode of the Scavanger’s Paradise and the ongoing NPF saga a High Court judge and an MP are accused of money laundering and forgery among other charges laid against them by the national prosecutor. It is not my place to pronounce innocence or guilt but my place to choose whether to be indifferent about it or not. I am outraged that the MP is still holding his office. His constituents and or the general public have not expressed their outrage, if there is any. Only a few have voiced their concern for their voices to fade like a whisper in a cold stormy night. Voices of descent have been like mist disappearing into thin air with no attention paid to them. What is more concerning is the ruling party’s indifference and radio silence.
The ethical ones would call for the retirement of the ‘honourable’ MP and his twin brother judge. But as we have it here in Botswana no one, especially those with influence, gives a damn. It’s just another day. The NPF saga is just but a microcosm of the ethical leadership problems engulfing the country. We have seen this happen over and over again with no repercussions.
It is beyond doubt that all government or government institutions are underperforming. This is primarily due to lack of respect for governance structures by those entrusted with the running of these institutions. The constant movement and recycling of old furniture (board members) has ensured that poor work ethics and mediocrity continue in vicious cycle. We have over the years seen people who have greatly failed in one position of leadership being moved like aimless chess pieces from one government entity to another. Well, I need not mention the family affair approach lest I be called envious or something close to that. Those with eyes to see and ears to hear know very well what I mean.
…to be continued