The issue of corruption has now become a front burner issue, with charges of corruption coming from both sides of the political divide. And while the political dimension of the charges cannot be ignored, corruption, whenever or wherever it raises its ugly head, ought not to be buried in the sand.
It is good that significant stakeholders such as the diplomatic community, the ruling and opposition parties and civil society are now speaking out on the need to stamp out corruption and corrupt practices from our society. There are far too many instances where leaders and governments have been overthrown or brought on their knees because of corruption or perceptions of corruption. The fact is that there is a collective sense of revulsion and outrage when people in positions of authority and influence use such positions to enrich themselves, their families and their friends.
To be effective in the fight against corruption, there has to be a no-nonsense approach by those agencies that are mandated by law to ensure that there is full transparency and accountability of public funds, namely, the Public Accounts Committee, the Office of the Auditor General and the Integrity Commission. There should be no ‘holy cows’ when it comes to corruption. Anyone found guilty of corrupt practices should be dealt with in accordance with the applicable law.
Corruption, however, must not be used as a political football as currently seems to be the case. Such an approach is counter-productive and could result in a fragmented and fractured response to the issue by important stakeholders and constituencies.
Corruption is not only immoral; it is a pathological disorder; a social disease, that threatens the economic well-being of us all. In that regard, ‘all are involved, all are consumed’ in the words of our late poet Martin Carter.
The government has a responsibility to ensure that taxpayers’ dollars are well spent and that there is value for money. The record so far is not encouraging. It will have to do much more than come up with ‘criminal’ charges against officials of the previous administration to convince Guyanese that it is serious about stamping out corruption from our midst.