Anchoring Active Public Engagement for Corruption Preventive Strategy

It has been a long time for the government of Ethiopia to single out corruption as a threat for the overall development of the country. Some 15 years have elapsed since the fight against corruption launched with the establishment of a focal institution, the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC).

With the focused strategic interventions in land, tax, justice, public procurement and sales areas the Commission with the public has registered tangible results over the years. Quite recently, the Commission has identified building ethical behaviour among children and the youth as one of the thematic focus areas for years to come.

Since then along with investigating and prosecuting corruption offences the Commission has been expanding ethics and anti-corruption education and prevention interventions. So far, through awareness raising programmes and training the Commission has reached out millions of people. Embezzled resources valued in millions have been recovered and many corrupt officials sent behind bars.

Through reviewing the working procedures of public offices and enterprises the Commission has protected millions of birr from embezzlement. Considering the indispensable role and contribution of the public the Commission has been working closely with the various segments of the public. It is obvious that that the participation of various stakeholders is demanding since the burden of corruption is becoming a blockade for development.

The Commission has been organizing women and youth anti-corruption movements, media and religious forums as well as various civic and professionals associations and offering trainings to the movements and the associations. These movements and associations have offered ethics and anti-corruption education to various public structures and segments of the society. They have exposed corruption and impropriety as well as maladministration in their respective districts. Correctional measures have been taken following their tips and follow up.

As part of prevention strategy ethics liaison offices have been established in public office and enterprises. The very objectives of establishing these offices to create public employees who do not condone corruption by promoting ethics and anti-corruption education, work discipline, professional ethics, conscience of serving the public and sense of duty among employees.

To prevent corruption and impropriety in public offices and public enterprises, and to expose and investigate malpractices, appropriate actions are taken against the perpetrators. Recently, the Commission has organized a discussion forum to popularize the newly designed prevention strategy in public offices and public enterprises for higher government officials.

In his address to forum participants, Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonen noted that for any anti-corruption intervention the participation of the public is decisive. The fight against corruption and rent-seeking sentiments is not the responsibility of a certain institutions rather it requires concerted efforts of all actors.

According to him, corruption steals social amenities, undermines the rule of law and erodes public trust on government. Therefore, fighting this bane is not only the mandates of a certain office rather the responsibility of all stakeholders. Commissioner of the FEEAC, Ali Sulieman on the occasion said that the strategy would help public offices and enterprises to adopt their own prevention strategy to fight corruption and rent seeking attitudes.

Since the heads and leaders of the offices and enterprises are responsible to manage and follow as to the budget and resource applied for the intended purpose in their respective offices.

Making each office and enterprise responsible to fight this scourge within their offices and enterprises would really help them to promote transparency and accountability thereby protecting public resource from embezzlement.

In this regard, the role of ethics liaison officers in implementing the new strategy is instrumental to fight corruption, good governance and rent-seeking problems. Therefore, they need to be proactive in mobilizing the employees of their respective offices and enterprises.

As the fight against this evil has badly requires more concerted efforts of various actors the effective implementation of the prevention strategy is a great opportunity and defining moment in a truly national effort to boost the anti-corruption synergy in the fight against the scourge.

Therefore, making the anti-corruption activities as cross-cutting issue and intensifying efforts in all possible ways towards making anti-corruption as shared assignment for all is timely.

Alongside bringing actors in the fight against this curse, empowering forums and associations with the necessary equipment through provision of training and technical support should also be a concern for the Commission.

Investigating and prosecuting corruption offences committed in some selected private sector identified by the amended proclamation of the re-establishment of the commission is an effort to horizon the anti-corruption fight in the country. The role and contribution of the private sector for the national development is quiet immense. The private sector has huge resources which owned by the public. Thus, protecting these resources from embezzlement is commendable.

The segregated effort to combat corruption fails to reduce the adverse effect of corruption. Joining hands and foisting effective partnership is the demand of the day. No spare time to engage the public to fight this curse as the Deputy Premier Demeke Mekonen noted at the discussion. Whatever the prevention strategy it is only through the forging of strong partnerships between all the stakeholders, governments, the private sector, international agencies and development partners can problems of corruption and rent seeking be adequately surmounted.

Therefore, heads and leaders of public offices and enterprises offices should implement their own preventive strategy and play the leading role in the fight this pandemic. Notably, as to the complexity and multi-dimensional nature of corruption it demands many more preventive strategies to be implemented with anchoring the active participation of the public, the primary victim of corruption and rent seeking practices.

Source: All Africa