straight to the point – from different points of view

We can defeat corruption by Winston Rudder

We can defeat corruption by Winston Rudder

Responsible citizens are understandably pained by the extent to which the country is mired in crime and corruption. The issue dominates the media. It also features prominently in private and family conversations and increasingly in statements of religious leaders. This scourge is now an albatross around our collective neck and a serious impediment to national development. We are horrified at the apparent ineptitude and unwillingness of officialdom to act coherently and consistently to treat the cancer. However, we must not become too disheartened to act.

 

On December 11, 2003, TT signed the United Nations Convention against Corruption, adopted by the UN General Assembly on October 31, 2003, ratifying it on May 31, 2006. We pledged then with the international community to: promote and strengthen measures to prevent and combat corruption more efficiently and effectively; promote integrity, accountability and proper management of public affairs and public property and to promote, facilitate and support international cooperation in these areas.

 

The Convention provides guidance for national action on a range of preventive measures covering: anti-corruption policies, practices and bodies; the public sector and codes of conduct for public officials; public procurement and management of public finances; public reporting; the judiciary; the private sector; participation of society and money laundering. It also establishes December 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day, dedicated to raise awareness of corruption and the role of the Convention in combating and preventing it.

 

11 years on, it is important to evaluate actions taken to honour pledges made and progress achieved in satisfying the goals of the Convention. A national anti-corruption strategy was proposed, but unlike India’s its development and implementation remain stillborn. Seemingly, corruption is addressed by a mix of disparate, disconnected interventions, to little effect.

 

Today, corruption is considered “just a way of life”. Truth is, it’s a heinous crime against humanity, insidiously eroding principles and values and undermining socio-economic development. Every facet of society, each sector and all individuals are affected and stand to benefit by saying “NO” to this malfeasance.

 

International Anti-Corruption Day 2014 is opportune for citizens and civil society (NGOs, CBOs, faith-based and professional organizations, academia and trades unions) to challenge government on corruption. They should interrogate decision-makers on the intended national anti-corruption strategy and promised consultation. Questions should also be asked about the process for developing the strategy. People must pressure government into holding a national conversation on this issue.

 

Additionally, civil society and the media should cooperate in a public education campaign to demystify the UN Convention, explaining government’s responsibility to be corruption-free; raising awareness about how corruption debases societal values and adversely impacts costs of key services – education, health. TTTI together with TTUTA, NPTA and the Ministry of Education should conduct programmes in schools to explain ethical behaviour and corruption (including measures to combat it). Students should be guided to work on small projects for classroom discussion. This is a small step in a long journey to ensure that future generations understand that a corruption-free country is indispensable to societal wellbeing, prosperity and development.

 

We yearn for a government which commits and acts to root out corruption, gain legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens and restore stability and trust. We must observe December 9 with a call to action, to strengthen resolve and capacity to rescue our country from corruption. Far from being helpless, we can do!

See also:

Corrupt politicians beware

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