In many African countries corruption has become endemic.
One of our employees was the wife of a Senior Government Minister. He often came to fetch her at closing time, at about 5 pm. Occasionally I took him for a tour of the brewery, showing him what we were doing to sort the place out.
We had to close some parts of the brewery down altogether to install more appropriate equipment, so I had arranged to temporarily import beer from our parent company in South Africa. The first time the Minister saw this beer safely stored in the warehouse he said, “I am having a constituency party meeting in a few days. Would you donate a few cases of beer?”
Unadvisedly I said, “Yes, of course, Minister.”
These requests continued, much to my discomfort.
As it happened, encouraged by our partners in The Botswana Development Corporation, we had employed as Deputy General Manager a delightful and very well-educated Motswana who had completed twenty years’ service at the age of forty-five, and was now due to retire from the Botswana civil service.
I explained my dilemma to him.
“Next time he comes, you just go out into the brewery and I’ll see him,” I was told. So I did just that.
The Minister was provided with a cup of tea.
“Yes, of course Minister,” was my colleague’s answer to the request for another donation of beer. “But we have made a few donations of this nature to you in past months. If you don’t mind I think we should just phone Phil, to see if it’s OK, in terms of Government regulations.”
I should explain that Phil was a Kenyan-born Afrikaner, who ran the civil service on very, very strict lines. He had been explicitly charged by the President to stamp out any signs of corruption.
The Minister didn’t even finish his tea. He dashed out of the office like a scared rabbit and we never saw or heard from him ever again. His wife resigned from her post at the brewery a few days later.
Sir Seretse Khama, the first President of the Independent Republic of Botswana, had from the very start of his regime, and most unusually for Africa, run a very strict anti-corruption regime. He obviously understood the dangers and stamped it out from the very beginning. The people of Botswana have benefited hugely from his foresight.