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Corruption is a hidden and subtle crime of conscience.

It is the act of obtaining material things, advantages, gains and or favours by morally and or ethically wrong and unfair means. Unlike cases of fraud and theft, corruption cases are not that obvious or very straightforward. They are usually very difficult to pin-point or prove due to lack of factual or solid evidence. And yet corruption is far more rampant than fraud or theft. Corruption actually costs more than straightforward fraud or theft in terms of wasted resources. Corruption is rampant in governments, businesses and the general population at large. Corruption is the biggest drain on resources everywhere. This includes for individuals, communities, businesses and governments. The funny part about corruption is that everyone will consider corruption to be what it really is, i.e. just straightforward corruption, until it benefits them. It is corruption until it benefits you. If and when it benefits you, then it is not corruption but just connections, family, social networks, normal or expected relationship assistance, kindness or expected benevolence from a close friend, relative or associate.  


However, as long as the overriding factor in obtaining material gains, favours or advantages over other people in the very same or similar position would be anything else other than straightforward merit, then it is just corruption. For example, when two people are a dead heat in terms of qualifications, experience and all other considerations for a given job, but then one of them gets the job primarily or just because of an existing relationship or connection to one of the interviewing or hiring authorities, then that is corruption even if and when the hired person is correctly qualified and experienced for that job. Of course, the concerned persons would not see it as corruption. Even very religious people do not see it as corruption but just as luck or God’s grace! The common factor in all corruption cases is human beings, or rather human behaviour. To be able to effectively deal with corruption we must first of all be able to thoroughly understand and accept the intrinsic attributes of human behaviour inside out, otherwise we shall never be able to get on top of this game.

Human intrinsic and survivalist behaviour, by nature and just like the intrinsic survivalist behaviour of all other living things as well, is governed by the Darwinian Theory of the survival of the fittest, and the dog-eat-dog kind of mentality. This is very true no matter whatever protestations to the contrary some pretentious holier-than-thou people may try to argue. In fact, anyone who tries to deny the fact of the preponderance of the natural dog-eat-dog attitude in all of us would actually be trying to corruptly influence you for their own advantage. They would be trying to lull you into losing focus so that they can unfairly or corruptly take advantage of you.  


We have to accept the fact that human beings are all intrinsically inclined to be corrupt by nature and there is absolutely nothing which we can do about that. This is regardless of what our religious priests, or anybody else for that matter, may say about it. As human beings, we are all corrupt. Full stop. Maybe to be a little bit kinder on ourselves, we must say that all of us can be corrupt, or can be corrupted sometimes. It is only if and when we accept this fact that we can then begin to effectively deal with corruption. Otherwise, if we continue to pretend to be angels in this regard, we shall never be able to tackle corruption, let alone beat it. Anti-corruption laws and anti-corruption commissions are not effective in tackling corruption.
Not at all! It is only anti-corruption principles, practices, operating systems, processes, procedures, means and mechanisms, and not just anti-corruption institutions which are effective in tackling corruption. In fact, anti-corruption institutions such as anti-corruption commissions, agencies or authorities actually run the risk of being havens of corruption themselves!
This is because corruption is naturally found in individuals, and is aided by the laxity which is found in operating systems. Once systemic laxity is taken care of, corruption would not be able to rear its ugly head.


Received wisdom says that in any operating system, only 15 per cent of problems originate from the people involved, while 85 per cent of challenges originate from the system itself. So how can corruption be successfully tackled through anti-corruption visions, values, traditions, cultures, operating systems and practices and not through potentially corrupt anti-corruption institutions? The first and most important step is to expect and anticipate corruption in everything, which involves people or human beings. This is because corruption, whether intentionally or unintentionally executed, is part of human nature. Corruption is part of normal life. It is even a normal part of life. Corruption is innate, inborn, self-centred, nepotistic, highly secretive, intimate, very private and stubbornly persistent. Once we know, realise and accept these basic and intrinsic facts about corruption, we then would be more able to successfully fight and win against it.

Refusing to accept the fact that corruption is there and that it is the natural tendency of all human beings regardless of their social, political, religious or economic standings, would not help in fighting and wining against it. There is corruption even in religious circles! Hence some people believe that they are the chosen ones! The next step towards fighting corruption is to know and understand that corruption hates openness and publicity. Corruption is the natural friend of dishonestly and secretiveness. As such, in order to win against corruption, any transactions must be carried out very openly and publicly as well. For example, public tender processes must not only be open and known to the general public like the back of their hands, but the procedures must also gunner the support and endorsement of the majority of the very same general public as well in terms of their openness and publicity. Likewise, bidding for tenders must also be very open, public and truly competitive with absolutely no chances of insider trading. Tender adjudication processes, contract monitoring, evaluation and administration must be very open and public as well.


They must also be based on well publicised and factual considerations. They must also be presided upon by non-connected adjudicators, who have publicly proven competencies in the tendered fields. All adjudicators must publicly declare their personal interests beforehand and or must recused themselves from tender management processes. It is secrecy, the non-disclosure of personal interests and or relationships, and the failure to recuse oneself from business management processes (e.g. tender adjudication, administration or management), which gives rise to the possibility of corruption. For the same reasons, laws which prohibit certain people or businesses from partaking in certain business processes such as tendering for public contracts more often than not promote corruption rather than help to eradicate it. Such laws force people to operate while hidden in the background and with hidden identities. This only makes corruption far worse and far more difficult to detect and or to eradicate than otherwise. It is better to allow everyone to do business with government as long as there is full and public disclosure of personal interests and also full and complete recusal of all personally interested, affected and related parties from the contract drafting, tendering, adjudication, administration and management processes.

In short, openness tends to help eradicate corruption while secrecy tends to promote it. It is as simple as all that. But believe me, the most difficult decision to make for every politician in this world is the decision to go public or to be open about anything! The process of making this decision is itself so riddled with corruption that a corruption free outcome in this regard is almost politically impossible to achieve. The world which we live in today is thoroughly corrupt, but the battle can and must still be won! In whatever we do, we must always be aware of the fact that we do not see it as corruption if and when it benefits us. We only want to, or begin to see it as corruption only if and when it does not benefit us. Hence when we get places for our children at kindergarten, primary school, high school, college or university ahead of similarly qualifying students just because of personal, relationship or business connections, we do not want to see or admit it to actually be corruption, and yet it would be exactly just that!


Instead, we would usually want or like to say that we were just lucky to know one or more of the decision makers. The same applies when we get jobs for ourselves, our children or other relatives through people we know or are connected to in one way or the other. The situation becomes worse when we talk about politics and voting. Many politicians have won general and other public elections just because of and through corruption. In politics, corruption is exercised through many channels and by many different means. Bribery, false promises, coercion, persuasion, threats, force, coups, nepotisms, tribalism, regionalism, xenophobia, racism and gerrymandering are some of the corruption riddled channels through which politicians get into power. But as long as they are the ones benefitting, politicians do not see all this as corruption. When politicians bribe voters, they would swear that they do not see anything wrong with helping people in need with a little bit of money, sugar, maize seeds, or mealie-meal. Hence the truthfulness or correctness of the assertion that it is corruption until it benefits you! Need I say more? Unfortunately, corruption is here to stay, good people!