8 March 2016

Africa: Remedies to Combat Corruption, Bribery

Corruption and bribery are hampering acts that are most impeding the development of a country. Though the range varies, these acts are common in different parts of the world. Its existence is more common in Africa than other continents.

If we see its situation in Ethiopia, rent-seeking and good governance issues are nowadays becoming the focus areas of the government. Corruption and bribery are components and forms of rent-seeking that needs to be addressed. The combat against corruption and bribery needs a joint effort as the government could not alone effectively fight against the conducts. Even if legal measures more than words are demanded more than ever, working to improve thinking and attitude or raising the awareness of level of the public is also crucial. Rent- seeking is an attitude before it happened or occurred.

The society should be well aware of the damages of rent-seeking and lack of good governance to make things easy in safeguarding the ongoing developments in the country.

Looking only on issues of corruption and bribery, it is appropriate to see the difference between the two terminologies. Corruption is a wider term than bribery. And many scholars define it as "the abuse of entrusted power for private gain". Corruption can be classified as grand, petty and political, depending on the amounts of money lost and the sector where it occurs.

Grand corruption consists of acts committed at a high level of government that distort policies or the central functioning of the state, enabling leaders to benefit at the expense of the public good. Petty corruption refers to everyday abuse of entrusted power by low- and mid-level public officials in their interactions with ordinary citizens, who often are trying to access basic goods or services in places like hospitals, schools, police departments and other agencies.

Political corruption is a manipulation of policies, institutions and rules of procedure in the allocation of resources and financing by political decision makers, who abuse their position to sustain their power, status and wealth.

Whereas bribery is the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of something of value for the purpose of influencing the action of an official in the discharge of his or her public or legal duties. The expectation of a particular voluntary action in return is what makes the difference between a bribe and a private demonstration of good will. To offer or provide payment in order to persuade someone with a responsibility to betray that responsibility is known as seeking unique influence over that person's actions. When someone with power seeks payment in exchange for certain actions, that person is said to be peddling influence.

A bribe can consist of immediate cash or of personal favours, a promise of later payment, or anything else the recipient views as valuable. No written agreement is necessary to prove the crime of bribery, but usually a prosecutor must show corrupt intent. Bribery charges may involve public officials or private individuals. In the world of professional sports, for example, one boxer might offer another a payoff to "throw" (deliberately lose) an important fight. In the corporate arena, a company could bribe employees of a rival company for recruitment services or other actions at odds with their employer's interests. Even when public officials are involved, a bribe does not need to be harmful to the public interest in order to be illegal.

When a public official accepts a bribe, he or she creates a conflict of interest. That is, the official cannot accommodate the interests of another party without compromising the responsibilities of her or his position.

There is not always consensus over what counts as a bribe. For instance, in many states, certain gifts and campaign contributions are not considered bribes and do not draw prosecution unless they can be linked to evidence of undue influence.

A scholar named Rosamund Thomas enumerates some remedies for bribery and financial corruption after raising various cases on bribery and corruption of many developing and developed countries.

Ethics in public and business life, legal and administrative remedies, training on anti-bribery and corruption, provision of adequate salaries for staff are some major remedies of tackling the acts. Reliance on law alone is insufficient to combat against corruption and bribery acts.

Guiding principles for the fight against corruption include: raising public awareness and promote ethical behaviour; ensuring coordinated act of crime of national and international corruption; guarantying the appropriate independence and autonomy of those in charge of prevention, investigation, prosecution and adjudication of corruption and taking appropriate measures for the seizure and deprivation of the offenses, as well as preventing legal persons from being used to shield corruption are also additional measures that needs to be taken.

Moreover, promoting the specialization of persons or bodies in charge of fighting corruption and providing them with appropriate means and training to perform their task. Adopting codes of conduct both for public officials and for elected representatives; promoting transparency within the public administration, particularly through the adoption of appropriate auditing procedures to the activities of public administration and the public sector, transparency of procedures; freedom of the media to receive and impart information on corruption matters are some of the things that needs to be taken into account.

Awarding 'Good companies', interviewing renowned experts on bribery and corruption under the title 'Ethics and Anti-Corruption' could also be possible remedies. These interviews give states, government departments, business companies, universities, and others detailed knowledge about institutions, laws, and methods, which they in turn can adopt and study to combat bribery and corruption.

The remedies that are mentioned above can also be used to deal with the growing bribery and corruption in Ethiopia. One is through prevention using acts such as raising the awareness of the public and establish a system that creates transparency and leads people to be accountable accordingly. Moreover, just and fair payment to employees for their work is also the other per-combating means to shut the door to corruption and bribes. Establishing a well organized system that is strong to fight against corruption and bribery with different stakeholders. If things are not managed after prevention, putting suspects and criminals in charge of the acts regardless of their political or other authoritative status or position through immediately canceling their leadership is the thing that shall be done.

The government of Ethiopia is not that much immediate and quickly reactive to cases of corruption and bribery immediately as they happened due to many factors. One among which is due to the fact that citizens are not actively taking part in the fight against this misconduct. Proper wealth registration and follow up are also demanding and the law should be stronger than it used to be. They should also be put in custody under the law for what they have committed.

According to a world Bank Study under the title "Diagnosing Corruption in Ethiopia :Perceptions, Realities, and the Way Forward for Key Sectors", The government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) clearly recognizes that corruption hinders development, democratization, and good governance endeavors. Hence, it has been striving to prevent and combat this socio-economic evil by designing various strategies.

And it is the strong conviction of the government that the anti-corruption struggle should continue in a strengthened manner to attain better results.

The Ethiopian government believes that anti-corruption activities should be supported by studies to make them fruitful. In recent years, diagnostic studies aiming at assessing the level of corruption in Ethiopia are being conducted. And the government is taking measures on officials and leaders at different levels in some areas of the country.

Many says it is a nice beginning though a long journey is still awaiting to go. Construction sector, land, health, education, water, land management, justice, telecommunications, transportation as well as service sectors are among the sectors that may be highly liable to corruption. As the government allocates substantial budgets to these sectors, conducting diagnostic studies and finding out the exact reality on the matter in depth will contribute to alleviating the problem. The diagnostic studies and the recommendations forwarded play a pivotal role in accelerating the ongoing struggle against corruption by ensuring transparency and accountability in our country. They will also create the opportunity to base comments on concrete information.

At the end, it can be concluded that corruption and bribery are hindering factors of the ongoing development of our country. And the combat against these misconducts are not things to be left alone to the government. All stakeholders are victims of it and all should react on it.

The society should not by any means tolerate and ignore the issues as they directly hinder the just and equitable distribution of wealth in the nation. A good combating system which is led by the government and active societal mobilization will shut the door to corruption in the near future.


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