‘… The majority of countries are making little or no progress in ending corruption…’
Transparency International Index 2017.
A United Nations 2001 definition of corruption is as follows: “Corruption is an abuse of public power for private gain that hampers the public interest”.
Conscientiouslessness; Opportunism; Regardlessness; Reprehensibleness; Unconcern;
Possessiveness; Trustlessness; Impudence; Overweeningness; Non-conformism.
While so much is known and dilated upon, in regard to corruption in its pervasiveness and ubiquity, much less is apparent when it comes to true successes in curbing it, if not eradicating it.
One may ask: Is it a hydra-like ogre, in that the more it is retrenched, the more it manifests itself?
World-wide, there are myriad high-profile corruption cases, leading to the collapse of institutions, corporations and the ignominious downfall of the many erstwhile great and good, even the highest office holders.
When placed along the conformity-deviance continuum, corruption can rear its ugly head in a variety of forms or guises, and to varying degrees of magnitude. Even so called peccadilloes, minor infractions, can exponentially multiply over time and explode on the scene. Still, many egregious transgressions lurk under seemingly innocuous covers, remaining undetected and unpoliced, and unsanctioned. Also, the power of evasive subterfuge or brazen obfuscation, cannot be overlooked or underestimated. The day of reckoning can take a time to come or may never do, as we often see attempts to justify or explain away grave aberrations. Dark forces may be at work.
Bribery, extortion, fraud, embezzlement, nepotism, favouritism, conflicts of interests, criminal negligence, dereliction of the duty of care, breaches of health and safety rules and standards, amongst others, have catastrophic consequences.
Corruption at the most heinous, is corrosive and destructive, vastly undermining an entity’s capacity to develop, and for ordinary citizens to enjoy a decent life. We also recognise that poverty is both absolute and relative. So, tackling inequality is an ongoing struggle, as it is moving target.
The glaringly disproportionate package of rewards of some CEOs, even when failing or underperforming (deemed as natural entitlements, whereas the serving works both ways!), has been the subject of fierce debates the world over. But a fair society will accept that chasmic disparities can prevail and may try to address some excesses.
It is also the case, that the capacity to dish out meaningful or more generous slices of the cake, would depend on how big the cake is, and how fair-minded is the benefactor. And, we know for some the slices are never big enough, those with particularly sweet teeth!
On a more serious note, we should be cognizant of the devastating scale at which certain state players purloin incalculable wealth, on occasions engaging in money-laundering, and siphoning vast funds to other ‘safe’ jurisdictions, resulting in colossal illicit financial outflows, seriously depleting national reserves, and denting the state’s endeavours to mobilise precious domestic resources in critical development areas.
The awareness of pernicious and insidious corruption, at corporate, institutional, national or global levels, must be constantly raised and reinforced. And the remedial measures must be given the teeth of effectiveness.
It is not just the duty of government officials, anti-corruption agencies, the judiciary, the enforcement forces, the media, but for the citizenry to be vigilant, to exercise scrutiny, to know the legalities and ethics when it comes to wrongdoing, to be self-aware, to be exemplary, and to think of futures less tainted by corruption.
The need is dire, therefore, for implementable, workable and enforceable Policies and Acts in the arena of corruption.
However, putting preventative measures in place to curb corruption, is as important as dealing with perpetrators of corruption – internally and externally.
Moreover, in creating more disciplined cultures, it behoves the citizenry to be fully informed, engaged and empowered to responsibly exercise their duties to speak truth to power, to see to it that power is held to account, without retribution. And, in this context, a primordial role is played by a mature, confident and transparent polity, a free responsible press / media, vibrant and vigilant civil societies, and with parliamentarians uncompromisingly performing their representational and advocacy functions, not on an ad hoc and expedient basis but consistently and enduringly and above all honourably.