Thursday, February 2, 2023

Mitigating the downsides of the anti-corruption campaign!

The prevalence of the rule of law requires the upholding of accountability for one’s action. Accordingly anyone participating in corruption needs to be held accountable to the full extent of the law regardless of his station in life. The rot is bound to set in when this essential feature of the rule of law is not strictly enforced.Bringing to justice each and every protagonist in a corruption network also serves to as a strong deterrence and immensely contributes to putting a break on the willful violation of the law. If the anti-corruption campaign currently underway is to achieve its objectives it has to be prosecuted professionally and resolutely. The government has said that it launched the campaign following a thorough preparation. Any task is likely to be successfully completed when it is carefully planned. That is why it is incumbent upon the government to be mindful of the pitfalls of acting in haste and think through the implications of such a course of action. This is particularly important in view of the considerable clout that the forces of corruption yield.

It is of the essence to exercise caution when placing suspects under custody and freezing their assets. These measures must not be taken in a manner which wreaks havoc on trade and investment. Though corruption, especially of the grand type, is by nature a secretundertaking involving several actors and sophisticated layers of illicit practices, it is imperative to ensure that the innocent are not caught up together with the guilty and unintended consequences do not befall third parties with whom the suspects have legitimate relations in the war against it. As trade and investment can only flourish in a stable environment the government should reassure anxious businesspersons and other compatriots. Otherwise business transactions are likely to slow down, stoking inflationary pressure.

It’s critical to use public opinion as an input when compiling and organizing the necessary evidence in regards suspected conspirators in corrupt acts and parties related thereto. Given the public knows very well the corruption taking place in each and every public or private entity it’s by putting in place a transparent mechanism which enables citizens to submit the necessary information and evidence that the government can mount a successful anti-corruption campaign. If transparency is lacking, however, the investigation of corrupt practices will be unnecessarily drawn out thereby engendering the impression that the wheels of justice grind exceedingly slow. The scourge of corruption, which the government has acknowledged to be an existential threat, can be uprooted from the country through the implementation of procedures that are acceptable in the eyes of the public. Respecting the rights of suspects to due process and a speedy trial can go a long way towards restoring the confidence of the business community.

The government owes the obligation to create a stable environment for trade and investment as well as to enable citizens succeed in their chosen field by affording them protection and enforcing the law. Criminals adept at exploiting the opportunities that arise at times like now waste no time in opening a new window of corruption that allows them to amass ill-gotten gains and causesbusinesses on edge to become even more fidgety. If the government were to install transparent procedures whichthe public deems to possess integrity, though, these scoundrels will not be able to take advantage of opportunities that may occur from time to time. Presently someinvestors troubled by the developments taking place are monitoring the situation from abroad. Afew chose to flee in fear that they will be ensnared in the corruption probe despite being innocent while others may have absconded to avoidarrest. At any rate the prevailing unease is liable to send jitters through the markets. This will have achillingeffect oncommerce and investment thereby resulting in slower transactions and a spike in joblessness. All stakeholders must do whatever is in their power to prevent this specter from coming to pass.

Accountability is not a principle that should be upheld in fits and starts. Eradicating corruption root and branch calls for a strict self-regulation on the part of the ruling class. If the legislature, the executive and the judiciary faithfully obey the constitution and the system of checks and balances while carrying out their duties corruption and other acts of maladministration will have no place. And if the media, which play a watchdog role over the three branches of government, were afforded the protection it enjoys under the constitution corruptors would be exposed for who they truly are and dealt a severe blow. We should, as a nation, ask how and why corruption has practically become institutionalized; a select few were able to enrich themselves with impunity at the expense of the masses and unjust relationships continue to exist between citizens. Although much has been said time and again fact that corruption has assumed alarming proportions in Ethiopia, it has inflicted considerable on the country on account of the inexcusable lack of courage to tackle it head on. The scourge has spawned a veritable cast of hoodlums that turned into millionaires overnight. These characters have proven difficult to be “immune” from prosecution owing to their seemingly bottomless capacity to wield considerable influence over key decision makers. The country and its people can be pulled back from the precipice only when honest and clean individuals are put in charge and enlist the unswerving support of the public.

Until this happens though it is vitally important to bear in mind that there are critical issues which need to be addressed with prudence. There is a distinct possibility that the snowballing anti-corruption campaign may well be derailed by elements mired in corruption up to their eyeballs. Law-abiding civil servants and members of the business community need to be reassurance that they have nothing to fear. Inasmuch as anyone culpable of corruption should be brought to justice having regard to his right to due process, those against whom evidence that holds up in court has not been obtained must be released immediately. Dragging someone to court for an offence he is not guilty of is not only simply wrong, but also a travesty of justice. While there is no denying that the public wishes the current anti-corruption drive to pay dividends, the business community is viewing the campaign with a mixture of trepidation and wariness. It is of the utmost importance to uphold the rule of law in order to prevent the innocent from suffering for the misdeeds of criminals. That is why every effort should be made to mitigate the downsides of the anti-corruption campaign.   

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