Vodacom hosts compliance indaba

Vodacom hosts compliance indaba

MASERU – CORRUPTION has become a normal practise so much that Basotho seem to have accepted it as a way of life.
This came out during the second annual Compliance Forum hosted by Vodacom Lesotho on Tuesday.

The Head of Anti-Bribery Unit at the Vodacom Lesotho, Advocate Tšepo Ntaopane, said the repercussions of corruption have knocked the country’s economy backwards.

Ntaopane explained that corruption has become so cancerous that the public practise it daily.  He said most people bribe police officers to avoid getting speeding tickets or other fines.

“When you get to the traffic department you find people offering bribes in exchange of driver’s licences or number plate metals,” Ntaopane said.
He said the moral integrity seems to have evaded Basotho as they have embraced corruption.

He said often the public screams of public servants or government officials being corrupt without accounting themselves to the fact that they are the corrupters.

He said it has become a norm to bribe those in power in order to influence their decisions on what one wants.  “We have heard and know of individuals being asked to give jobs as a favour in exchange of another favour in the form of a gift, tender etc.”

He said the private sector also engages in corruption for government tenders or certain jobs. Corruption is said not only to fuel illicit financial flows but leaves the public vulnerable as it impedes the provision of quality services.
Over the last 50 years, Africa is estimated to have lost in excess of $1 trillion (about M14 trillion) in illicit financial flows (IFFs), according to a study by Kar and Cartwright-Smith in 2010.

This sum is roughly equivalent to all of the official development assistance received by Africa during the same timeframe, the study says.
Currently, Africa is estimated to be losing more than $50 billion (about M700 billion) annually in IFFs.

The Lesotho Public Account Committee (PAC) report of May showed that from 2013-2016 the government lost a minimum amount of over M1.4 billion to corruption and under collection of revenue by government ministries and departments.

Ntaopane said the only cure for this is zero tolerance for corruption from an individual level to entity and government level.
“We should each in our little corners uproot corruption and refuse to participate in it,” he said.

He said it would take time to build a corruption-free Lesotho but it is a journey worth taking.  “Corruption indexes influence investors’ decisions whether to invest in a country or not,” he said.

“Ranking so high on corruption indexes like we do has two implications, it is either investors choose not to invest or invest and exploit labourers, abuse environmental laws and basically get away with murder.”

Another suggestion is for companies to not only have well developed anti-bribery or corruption policies but to ensure that the policies are implemented.

He mentioned that within Vodacom there are mechanisms in place to prevent corruption.

“We have a rule that no gifts are to be given or shared amongst parties during a negotiation period and after the signing of a deal there is a certain waiting period before parties can gift each other,” Ntaopane said.

The Vodacom Lesotho’s Senior Compliance Manager, ’Mabereng Mokhothu, said Vodacom has a policy that helps ensure that its suppliers or employees are not involved in corruption at all its levels.

Suppliers are said to be audited every three months to see that they are still in alignment with anti-bribery policies.  Staff have to declare any type of gifts received and there are some gifts of a certain value that staff are not allowed to take.

“There is also a limit to the type of gifts we can give as an organisation as we understand the influence gifts have on certain individuals,” Mokhothu said.
She said the media is not immune from corruption as there are often efforts to shelf stories in return of certain favours.

“We have limited the type of gifts we give to the media as we do not want the media to shy away from writing certain stories involving Vodacom,” Mokhothu said.

“Here we say: feel free to write anything about Vodacom as long as it is true.”
She said to encourage reporting of corrupt incidents the company has a whistleblowing facility that offers confidentiality.

The chief prosecutor at the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO), Advocate Sefako Seema, said there is no one above the law and everyone should account for their actions.

He said fighting against corruption is founded on a network of institutions responsible for various tasks. Unfortunately due to this, it sometimes takes too long to have the involved people charged.

He also said the fight can only be won if it starts internally within individuals and rolls out to the society. Vodacom Lesotho’s Head of Legal, Regulatory and External Affairs, Molemo Motseki, said it is critical to have forums of this nature to share experiences, come up with potential solutions and engage with policy makers in order to win the fight against corruption.

Lemohang Rakotsoane

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