Botswana has caught the African bug, the dreaded disease of corruption. This malice is characterised by widespread bribery; wheeling and dealing; insider trading; stealing by servant; tender manipulation; defeating the ends of justice; dishonesty and lying and cheating in high and low places! And so, when I read about corruption, I often wonder who really is to blame for this blot in our democracy – is it the politician or the public officer? Well they say it takes two to tango, it’s axiomatic therefore that there has to be a corruptor and the corrupted. It’s unlikely that this lucrative enterprise called corruption can thrive as a sole proprietorship!

Even if we define corruption as the ‘abuse of entrusted power for private gain’, the fact remains it still is a transactional act. Entrusted power implies there is authority conferred on someone by another – either by person or statute – to carry out a legitimate task or tasks.

So, if that entrusted power is ‘abused’ it presupposes laxity/ineffectitude or ineptness on the part of the person conferring the authority or on the part of the monitoring and regulatory mechanism. For me, corruption is a behavioural trait; it is a condition of a sickly mind; it is borne out of greed and avarice. When a politician connives with a public officer to defraud a government department or compromise a tender, programme or project, who do we fault?

Both the politician and the officer have entered into this despicable act they must both be taken to task! In like manner, corruption transcends public office as it permeates the very fabric of our social, economic, political life including even the clergy. Just imagine an unlicensed driver, who is an ordinary woman in the society, suddenly reaching a roadblock. She admits her crime and offers the police officer a monetary consideration. The poor cop, who probably has no money for the day’s meal, accepts it and the lady drives on. In no time this habit turns into character and very soon our roads are inundated with unlicensed drivers! The road carnage increases by the day.

Very soon, the licensing officer at the Department of Roads, Transport Services also succumbs to seamless requests from applicants that have flunked the driver’s test and issues them with licenses because they’ve paid a bribe.

Our roads get clogged with licensed people that have failed the driver’s test. The carnage increases manifold. This is the vicious circle that corruption breeds. Law on its own is not enough and can never be enough to regulate behaviour or conduct. Indeed the elixir for corruption is self-discipline and moral fortitude. We must become a sosciety that shuns evil in all its manifestations. We must not covet other people’s wealth rather we should strive to eke an honest living for ourselves and our families.

The pastor must earn his keep; tithes and collections are for the Church and its laity. In that way we will be able to enjoy peaceful sleep. I say this because a thief’s conscience is his worst enemy. He/she may pretend to be fine, but deep down he’s tormented by the knowledge that he has commited a crime. Politicians should desist from making empty promises.

This also is another form of corruption, because the electorate vote for you on the basis of those hollow promises only to be left with egg on the face when these don’t materialise. Public officers must remember that theirs is a sacrosanct calling – they serve the public, it is an honour to be cherished.

In fact, I dare say they must be required to take an Oath of Allegiance to the Public Service Charter in the same way that Nurses and Doctors defer to the Hypocrates Oath. Overisght institutions that watch over the conduct of the three arms of Government - Executive, Legislature and Judiciary - must also have clearly spelt out rules that require of them to report quarterly to the public on the health of the state.

The men and women that are hired in the public service must have integrity. They must undergo an Integrity Test and thereafter their lives must be placed under the spotlight to ensure their actions and conduct – on and off work – are consistent wth their service charter.

Civil society must rally behind a set of principles, it must inculcate tenets of good conduct for members of the society; and the same society through their civil society organisations must enforce these values and tenets. In this way we shall be on the way to creating a Utopia in which parents and children live in harmony – a perfect society where corruption is shunned with the utmost cotempt; a society in which every man is his brother’s keeper.