Clearly, corruption in its ugliest of meanings means stealing. It takes many shapes ranging from touts and drivers bribing police, students extending sexual favours to teachers for better grades, criminals bribing judges and court staff for favourable rulings or leaders bribing their way out of corrupt deals. There is hardly a better way to end the list.
It must be mentioned that corruption has two sides to it. There is always someone being corrupted and another one corrupting that make up the vice. Both are guilty, but for us Gambians, we tend to focus only on the one receiving the bribe. There have also been scenarios where the vice has even been glorified and the unfortunate belief that corruption is here to stay. This is a big lie and there is a need for us to steer clear of such beliefs.
Furthermore, many people have also tried to confuse the act of giving and receiving gifts with corrupt practices, while we all agree that in every civil society, there is the act of giving and receiving which is highly acknowledged by all, we must all know that gifts are not given or received in secret but corrupt practices are done in secret with the parties involved trying to protect their image. While corrupt practices are done with the intention of getting an unmerited advantage, gifts are not. While corrupt practices are done by abusing one’s entrusted position, gifts are not. We must draw a clear distinction between the two.
It is true that corruption disintegrates the credibility of public institutions. It attacks the morality of justice and damages society. In other countries, the media in particular is full of alarmist talk on the practice. While this may not be the case in The Gambia, it is important for us to start a conversation towards preventing it from infiltrating our society. Our country is witnessing prosperity of its own and issues that manifest as challenges to this prosperity will figure so prominently in years to come.
Meanwhile, the fight against corruption requires a collective effort. The government has drawn its own conclusion that corruption jeopardises progress. It has also announced that the country’s new anti-corruption commission will start operation soon. This is a big step in the fight but the commission’s success will be based on how independent it is. Effective law enforcement is essential to corroborate anti-corruption efforts. Law enforcement agencies must construct anti-corruption teams to detect and punish any public or government official, along with any public servant who violates corruption laws. It is only through this that we can effectively check the practice.
To put it more broadly, a national conversation is necessary to address some of the structural issues that feed deep-seated corruption. These include poverty, lack of awareness and loose laws. All these issues in one way or the other and directly or indirectly be cause for corruption among individuals. There is a need for the government to look into them and come up with solutions. The conversation must be genuine and action must be taken to address them.
Doing away with corruption is a big push. It is about action and steadfastness. It involves every well-meaning citizen. The real process to banish corruption starts with one determined individual and then others will follow. We need someone who will resolutely go on the offensive and rid our nation of corrupt people. It is better to sack as many corrupt officials in every department as possible and replace them with clean ones. Until it pains us enough to decide that moaning without action is tantamount to condoning the vice, we will still go to bed with corruption. The fight for a corruption-free nation is winnable but it starts with you.]]>