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Commonwealth fights back against “tsunami of global corruption”

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Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has outlined her vision to fight corruption in the Commonwealth. She was speaking at the opening of the 8th Commonwealth Conference of Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.

The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Partnering towards assets recovery and its return,’ and the Secretary-General highlighted the challenges facing member states. “Globally, we are facing a tsunami of corruption. In 2015, UNODC estimated that the amount of money laundered globally each year is 2 to 5 per cent of global domestic product or between 800 billion and USD 200 trillion,” said Secretary-General Scotland.

“It is estimated that corruption costs the African continent over USD 148 billion per annum. “You, the heads of anti-corruption agencies, will be seeking to meet this challenge. You are leading the fight against this Tsunami. You are the early warning mechanisms, the rapid responders, mobilisers, you put in place necessary, critical measures that enable us to build back better.”

To applause from two of the country’s former heads of state, the vice-president of Nigeria, Yemi Osibanjo, Thabo Mbeki, the former South African leader, and 200 delegates to the conference, she highlighted some of the successes against corruption in the continent. “I would like to share a few of the inspiring stories on how you on the continent are beginning to win the battle against corruption,” continued the Secretary-General. “Botswana’s Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime is currently investigating 26 suspects who are accused of money laundering and fraud to the tune over 300 million pula, which is equivalent to USD 85 million.

“The Asset Recovery Unit of Uganda’s Inspectorate of Government is currently investigating three cases to the value of USD 5 million dollars. In Mauritius, the Asset Recovery Investigation Division is pursuing criminal proceedings in a case that is valued at about half a billion dollars. “South Africa’s Special Investigations Unit which, between 2015 and now, has recovered assets or prevented fraud equivalent to 13 billion rand which is just over USD 1 billion dollars. Here in Nigeria, over USD 3 billion dollars of ill-gotten gains have been recovered.

“I would like to put on record my deepest admiration and gratitude for all anti-corruption agencies gathered here today, including those at the forefront of cases I have just highlighted.” Secretary-General Scotland said the Commonwealth owed ‘immense gratitude’ for the wisdom and leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria. She described as ‘excellent and forthright’ the work being carried out by Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) under the leadership of its acting-chair, Ibrahim Magu, and applauded the efforts of Professor Bolaji Owasanoye and his team at the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC). 

The Secretary-General also encouraged delegates to read last month’s Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) communique which resolved to tackle corruption, illicit financial flows, money laundering and terrorist financing by intra-Commonwealth cooperation. She also urged them to study the newly launched Commonwealth Innovation Hub and make best use of the Commonwealth Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform (OCCJR).

“The Office is currently working with the British Standards Institute and the Global Infrastructure Anti-Corruption Centre on a package of Commonwealth Integrity benchmarks. “The plan is for the benchmarks package to include a summary of requirements for key anti-corruption standards and commitments, with Commonwealth examples of good practice on implementation and enforcement,” said the Secretary-General. “Initial elements of the package will be presented during this conference, and feedback and recommendations from participants will be most valuable.

“I believe that the development and roll-out of a Commonwealth Integrity Index will act as a further weapon in our armoury to tackle this global tsunami. By doing so, we truly are working and acting towards the goal which I have so often enunciated.” Secretary-General Scotland said that there would be a formal process of consultation with member countries to take all views into account. She anticipated that the benchmarks package could be presented for adoption in Rwanda at CHOGM 2020.

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BMC secures beef market in Seychelles

Dikarabo Ramadubu

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Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) will soon start to sell its beef to the Island of Seychelles. Not only will they sell frozen raw meat, but will also send corned beef for trial in the Island.

All this is thanks to last week’s visit by President Mokgweetsi Masisi who included in his delegation executive management of the BMC, led by Chief Executive Officer, Dr Akolang Tombale.
The agreement signed between BMC and two leading Seychelles companies, will see BMC exporting at least 48 tonnes of raw beef to the island possibly from October. The names of the two companies that BMC signed an agreement with are Seychelles Trading Company which is a quasi-government organisation, and Rosebelle Company which is privately owned.

Although both have agreed to trade with each other, BMC cannot start immediately, as they have to wait for the green light from Seychelles companies who still have to apply for import permits in accordance with the law of their republic.

Speaking to The Midweek Sun, Tombale expressed gratitude that they managed to get good business in Seychelles through the assistance of President Masisi. “We are ready to export any time from now. As you know Seychelles is an island surrounded by mountains and cannot produce much if not anything. “They therefore depend much on imports even from as far as Brazil and Europe. Their economy is driven by tourism and they do not differ much with the European market in terms of the demand for beef as most tourists come from Europe and United States.”

Dr. Tombale said they agreed with the two companies that since “we are not sure about the logistics we will start by selling 24tonnes to each company per month, meaning we will be supplying the Island with a total of 48 tonnes per month. The idea is to start small and grow bigger as the people get used to our beef.” BMC has also negotiated to sell small stock meat to Seychelles and successfully negotiated for local chicken farmers to start selling their range chicken to Seychelles as well.

According to Tombale, he negotiated the deal after being approached by local chicken farmers amongst them Kgosi Mosadi Seboko of Balete, who requested that “we should try to find a market for chicken farmers as we go around the world searching for the beef market.” Tombale revealed that for a start both range chickens and small stock will not be supplied in tonnes or large quantities as they will be sold on a trial basis.

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G-west community reunion-walk a resounding success

Keletso Thobega

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Multitudes turned up for the Mosengwaketsi community walk and braai session this past Saturday in Gaborone West. The walk was held in the morning and was preceded by football games and a braai session that went on until late in the evening.

According to the event director Tshenolo Palai, the aim of the community day event was to revive community spirit and address crime and social ills. “The Mosengwaketsi community reunion will be held not only to create a platform to build unity but also address the social ill of passion killings,” he said.

Palai said that they had also invited health stakeholders for a wellness segment because they had realised that there are many health related conditions that affect the quality of people’s lives hence they had joined forces with religious organisations, the business community, neighbourhood outreach policing and other stakeholders in the area to encourage a culture of unity and create dialogue between all the parties.

He noted that they had wanted to create a relaxed environment conducive for different people to engage and strengthen their networks. He said they were also concerned with the high rate of crimes of passion in Botswana and also wanted to create a platform for both men and women to open up on issues that affect them because most people tend to be more relaxed in a social setting.

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