Sunday, February 7, 2010

Keynote Address by H.E. the Former President of the Republic of Botswana Mr. Festus G. Mogae at the Launch of the Anti-Corruption Revolution Campaign

source: Republic of Botswana (6/2/10) TAUTONA TIMES no 1 of 2010
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity, Discipline and Delivery"

B7) 4/2/10: Keynote Address by His Excellency the Former President of the Republic of Botswana Mr. Festus G. Mogae at the Launch of the Anti-Corruption Revolution (ANCOR) Campaign in the North East/North West Geo-Political Zones, Gombe State, Nigeria

[Salutations]...Ladies and Gentlemen

1. I greet you all and thank you for welcoming me to your beautiful country. It is indeed an honour and privilege for me to be given this opportunity to deliver a keynote address at the third launch of such an important campaign - the Anti-corruption Revolution. I must from the outset congratulate your Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for initiating such a campaign.

2. It is more pleasing to note that the Anti-Corruption Revolution concept is designed to provide a platform for citizens' participation in the fight against corruption, economic and financial crimes in Nigeria. This is an important recognition that the Government cannot fight corruption alone but needs the active participation of ordinary citizens, the public sector, the private sector and the civil society. Corruption is a problem that affects us all; we are all its victims; therefore we all have to be involved in fighting against it.

3. I applaud you for reaching out to the public and civil society because corruption is a problem of immense proportions. It is complex and threatens national development and service delivery. Public education and mobilization is therefore crucial because we do not only need people's active participation but their confidence and support as well.

4. Ladies and Gentlemen, Corruption should never be allowed to grow roots in any society. It must be nipped in the bud before it becomes widespread and sophisticated to a point where it threatens the very fabric of society. When corruption reaches endemic proportions it impacts on all aspects of life, and nothing can be done unless a palm is greased. For example, a bribe to the right person will enable one to pass an examination, get a driver's license, land a contract and win a law-suit. Corruption should never be allowed to become an acceptable culture in any society. It is therefore pleasing to note that as a nation you have taken it upon yourself to start a process of uprooting the germination of such a dangerous tumour. Nobody is going to come from somewhere to weed corruption in Nigeria, but it is up to the Nigerians themselves, at all levels, to shoulder that responsibility. I am therefore happy that what we are witnessing, in the form of the Anti-corruption Revolution campaign, are efforts of a people taking up the responsibility of building a clean society.

5. Corruption retards development because it leads to loss of Government revenue; it leads to a slowdown in the development of essential services; it is a threat to democracy - because it can enable those involved to win power and influence; it can circumvent the will of the people and undermine the rule of law. It is enemy number one of law and order and good governance.

6. Corruption also exacerbates poverty in that it effectively transfers resources from state coffers to the few rich and powerful. However, it is not confined to the rich and powerful, but corrupt Licensing Officers, Immigration and Customs Officials, Police Officers, Army Officers, can inflict untold damage to an economy and society.

7. A corrupt bureaucracy can ruin the integrity of a nation, retard national development and impede service delivery. Greedy, selfish and corrupt public officers and that includes politicians, are a danger to development and law and order. Countries that have attained the dubious distinction of being some of the most corrupt nations in world attained that unfortunate label because of their corrupt bureaucracies and politicians.

8. Corruption also distorts factor prices, to the extent that those at the receiving end are rewarded for little or no work done and the cost of projects turns out higher than it would be. Corruption distorts priorities in that those who are corrupted tend to give priority to development projects of little or no national benefit.

9. Ladies and Gentlemen, what you are embarking upon requires a realistic and honest assessment of the extent of corruption in your country and its dimensions. Above all, ask yourself whether you have adequate political will to ensure that combative action is taken. Without political will this campaign will not go anywhere. It is also important to emphasise that for an anti-corruption campaign to succeed, the Government must be prepared to risk potential embarrassment to itself, and there must be an accompanying realization that whatever mechanisms are put in place, they must be so organised and structured that the campaign and the campaigners have unfettered operational autonomy.

10. The Government must also ensure that the campaign enjoys adequate human and physical resources, and that irrespective of the possible political consequences, there will be no slackening of resolve. You should also bear in mind that any anti-corruption campaign which seeks to provide immunity to any group of people is bound to fail because it will lack public confidence and support which is essential to its success.

11. Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me now to briefly tell you how we fight corruption in my country, Botswana. In addition to the constitutionally-entrenched oversight organisations such as the Auditor-General and the Directorate of Public Prosecution, we have established independent organisations such as the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime, the Ombudsman and the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board. These key anti-corruption and accountability institutions ensure strict adherence to proper financial management practices and good corporate governance. They have strong legal mandates and powers to investigate and report on possible abuses and departures from financial laws and regulations, designed to protect the public interest with regard to, among other things, safeguarding of the collection, custody and use of public funds and assets, including land, the security of private property, as well as the freedom to trade anywhere in the country.

12. An independent judiciary underpins these institutions, and we continue to exercise vigilance to ensure that they all adapt to the changing times. In Botswana we are committed to the goal of 'zero tolerance' for corruption. Our resolve is that corrupt practices must remain a 'high risk low return undertaking'. This has earned Botswana a rating, by Transparency International, as the least corrupt country in Africa and the developing world, and indeed among the best in the world.

13. Our anti-corruption agency was established in 1994 as a response to the unfolding of incidences of corruption in the country which were threatening our hard earned economic development and good reputation as a society. The DCEC, as it is popularly known, is an operationally autonomous agency armed with special powers to investigate acts of corruption. We have charged this agency not only with the responsibility of investigation and prosecution, but also modelled it upon other successful examples from the Far East, given it the responsibility for corruption prevention studies and public education.

14. Public education is a major component of the DCEC mandate. This anti-corruption agency has made corruption a public issue, bringing it to the forefront of our citizens' attention. Because of public education and involvement the agency receives reports of alleged corrupt practices from members of the public and they investigate them to establish their nature. Those that happen to fall within its purview are followed and some end up as court cases. The agency also follows media reports on allegations of corruption.

15. We also have a long established Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, or PAC, to ensure transparency and accountability in public spending. The PAC, whose members are Members of Parliament from both the ruling and opposition parties, holds permanent secretaries to account for any misdeeds in their ministries. They have to account for their budget expenditure and that includes under-expenditure and over-expenditure.

16. We have also embarked upon an intensive campaign to make the whole of the public service accountable and performance-oriented with a view to providing the tax payers with the services they have a right to expect. We inculcate codes of ethical conduct, transparency and accountability into the whole of the public service.

17. Chairperson, let me conclude by reiterating the point I have already made that, the task of fighting against corruption cannot be left to Government alone. It needs partnership between the public sector, the private sector, civil society and the general public. Public participation, confidence and support are paramount in any anti-corruption campaign.

18. I have noted with satisfaction that this is what you are doing - building partnerships between the government and other critical stakeholders - general public, public sector, private sector and civil society. There is no other way but for everybody to be involved. Your theme for this campaign - 'Popular Participation for National Rebirth'- is very much appropriate but it should not remain just a slogan; it should be translated into reality through the mobilization of the general public. I thank you for your attention and wish successful in this crucial campaign.

No comments: