- Roads Department leads the pack - Says these are legacy problems - Health sector also problematic - Pharmaceutical licenses to be reserved for citizens

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has admitted that there is too much corruption and maladministration in the government he leads. He said they have discovered that the ministries are very weak. According to the President, this is disheartening and needs to be attended to, something he said he is working on to restore the confidence of the citizens on the government.

Masisi, who was addressing a Kgotla meeting in Moshupa recently, revealed that at the top of corruption and maladministration is the Department of Roads under the Ministry of Transport and Public Works.

“Roads Department is one of the weakest. There is corruption and maladministration at that department. We have lost millions under that department due to sub-standards or uncompleted roads projects,” said Masisi.

He stated that there were roads that were done but were not fit for use by the public. According to the president there have been some contractors who were given projects while they were neither fit nor qualified for such projects. He expressed concern that even people who were not qualified with the tendering process got involved which made everything worse.

“These are legacy problems. We are working on fixing the problems. There have been instances where even people who were not involved in certain tenders got involved at some stage. We saw where people changed scope of work which forced us to pay claims from contractors which have not been budgeted for. Even a junior officer could do that and this is wrong,” said Masisi who emphasised that these are legacy problems they are trying to solve.

He indicated that there is no how government would not pay because as a client she is bound by the contract. Masisi told the residents that another problem is in the health sector. He said at the time when there was an outcry of shortage of medicines, it was not that the government was entirely failing to provide. He said there were people who were sabotaging the government efforts to provide medication to the populace.

The said pharmacies, most of which are foreign owned were charging exorbitant prices to supply government with medication. The President revealed that government intends to reserve licenses for pharmacies to citizens. “Those people have for long been cheating government. We are going to change that. All along they have been having contracts with suppliers and manufacturers and there was nowhere we featured or had a say.”

Masisi further said: “we are going to do things differently. We will ensure things are done properly following the law. There has been too much greed. The Attorney General has been directed to ensure there are no loopholes where we find contracts being changed many times by different officers, even juniors. You have seen with the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) where funds were diverted from its intended use and used for intelligence matters.”

During his state of the Nation Address on Monday this week, Masisi said Government remains committed to good governance, transparency and accountability. He said the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index of 2022 scored Botswana at 6.0 from 5.5 in 2021 and being ranked number 35 out of 180 countries and as the third least corrupt country in Africa, after Seychelles and Cape Verde, respectively. Masisi emphasised that good governance is an antidote to corruption.

“We are thus working hard as a Government to enhance our systems by accentuating ethical conduct in order to promote, facilitate and strengthen good governance in the country. In this regard, the Whistleblowing Act of 2016 is being reviewed to address certain gaps in the legislation in line with international best practice. The primary aim is to bring the Act in alignment with global standards and improve the overall disclosure, reporting, and investigation procedures,” Masisi told the nation.