By: Thandiwe Kubere

In a continent grappling with pervasive corruption, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offenses (DCEO) is taking proactive measures to combat the scourge and restore public trust in governance.

Lefu Ramashamole, the Chief Corruption Prevention Officer at DCEO, sheds light on the institution’s efforts and challenges in combating crime and training on identifying corruption and misconduct in the public sector procurement workshop.

Ramashamole emphasizes the crucial role of ethics and integrity in curbing corruption. He asserts, “Instilling integrity comes from one’s upbringing- knowing that there is guidance and punishment which comes with crossing certain lines. People commit corruption because they do not have ethics and integrity.”

With a focus on transparency and fairness, DCEO engages in initiatives aimed at educating the public about corruption and its repercussions.

Despite commendable efforts, DCEO still faces hurdles, notably the lack of reliability in the country’s justice system. He therefore expresses concern over suspects evading justice, citing potential foul play or corruption within the system, as this undermines public confidence in the institution and impedes its mission.

He states, “We do a lot of groundwork to find those involved in crime. But, when those cases reach court, some suspects get to work free, we believe there is also some foul play or corruption at hand”.

This presents Basotho’s mistrust in the institution and the fact that this has gone on for a long time, regardless of victorious cases, it is difficult to get the nation’s support.

Ramashamole declares corruption has ways of manifesting within organizations, which calls for an investigation. One of the manifestations is that individuals become wealthy over a short period and in often cases, the wealth does not match earnings.

Another one is when companies monopolize tenders and quality gets compromised. Institutions also lose credibility resulting in the collapse of services.

“I don’t know if those who partake in corruption are aware of the adverse effects which come with it. Corruption erodes the public’s confidence in the institutions of states, their reputation, and integrity. It also promotes poor service delivery to the public”, he states.

Nonetheless, as a way of addressing internal challenges, DCEO has implemented a code of ethics and intensified disciplinary measures against non-compliant personnel.

Ramashamole highlights the recruitment of new officers as a strategy to infuse fresh perspectives and drive efficiency within the organization.

Despite these challenges, DCEO has achieved significant milestones. Notably, the institution witnessed a substantial increase in its budget, enabling seamless operations. “For the first time since its operation, DCEO saw its budget grow from M25 Million to M74 Million in the last financial year 2023/2024 so that it carries out its operations without hurdles”, he assures.

Moreover, with support from the European Union, DCEO plans to decentralize its services to the north region (Butha-Buthe) as well as the south region (Mohale’s Hoek) to enhance accessibility and effectiveness.

Ramashamole further warns about the multifaceted nature of corruption, which encompasses bribery, fraud, embezzlement, and nepotism, among others.

In advocating for ethical governance, he concludes, “For the development of this country and the well-being of its citizens, it is essential to have values including; honesty, responsibility, reliability, accountability, conscience, and openness.”

Through its relentless efforts and commitment to integrity, DCEO remains at the forefront of the fight against corruption, striving to create a fair and just society for all Basotho citizens.