Corruption (Political or Economic)

Reasons for corruption?

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2013-03-27 16:00:19

Low salaries

Corruption is often attributed to the low salaries of civil

servants. This differentiates between need driven (satisfying basic

requirements for survival) corruption and greed driven (satisfying

desires for status and comfort that salaries cannot match)


It may be true that it is more difficult to stay honest,

hard-working and trustworthy on a low salary, but it is also true

that most people with low salaries are still able to do so and that

many corrupt officials are people in high, responsible positions,

earning good salaries.

In conjunction, corrupt practices flourish in systems where

employees have high job security; where the level of

professionalism in the public service is low; and hence officials

rather serve their own interests than perform their duty to serve

the public. However, low salaries are not a valid reason for and do

not justify corruption. Culture A gift culture exists,

particularly in

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is tradition that a small reward is paid for services rendered.

Such a gratuity or tip becomes part of the cultural environment and

in certain countries the payment of such rewards is so embedded in

tradition that any attempt to rein in the practice would be seen as

an attack on treasured cultural values. In Africa, this was

traditionally seen as awarding special honours to the Chief and, in

this light, it often regarded as acceptable and "normal" for

politicians to accept such rewards. In some countries it is common

practice in the commercial arena for business transactions to be

accompanied by the giving of personal gifts or benefits, ranging

from the Christmas bottle of whiskey to much more elaborate and

extravagant items. In essence, the root of corruption is greed

rather than culture, public life requires a standard of its own;

and those entering public office must be made aware of this from

the outset. The absence of rules, regulations, policies and

legislation All organisations, whether public or private sector,

must have rules, regulations and policies that guide management and

other employees in terms of acceptable behaviour and conduct within

the organisation. Rules, regulations and policies are instrumental

in organising people, steering them towards a common goal and

ensuring that everyone is treated fairly and equally. In order to

be effective, such rules and policies must be clearly communicated

to all individuals in order to be understood and applied

objectively. Corruption is more likely to flourish in an

organisation that does not have a wide range of rules, regulations

or policies that guide employees in their work. Similarly, a

country must have clear policies and legislation that guide the

behaviour of all citizens and residents within that country.

However, organisations and countries must strike a reasonable

balance in terms of policies and legislation; whilst corruption

flourishes in an environment without clear rules and regulations,

similarly, corruption finds fertile in a country that has a

numerous laws, rules and regulations that restrict business and

economic activities. Such a climate creates industries' dependence

on individual civil servants to engage in economic activity;

thereby circumventing bureaucratic red tape through corrupt offers.

Range of discretion No system can exist unless one person or

authority is used, to some extent, to make decisions. Such a person

is said to have the power to exercise discretion - the freedom to

act within certain limits. Corruption takes place in institutions

where public officials: • have great authority; • can exercise

discretion with respect to interpretation and application of

regulations; • are not required to be accountable to anyone; and •

are driven by greed. Therefore, an environment with a higher range

of discretion without accountability is more conducive to

corruption. In conjunction, political office is one of the primary

means of gaining access to wealth in less developed countries. If

corruption occurs on the top level and the political leadership of

the country does not set a good example with respect to honesty,

credibility, transparency, integrity and the persecution of

offenders, citizens become disillusioned and offenders are not

deterred from entering into corrupt practices. The absence of

transparency Where there is no transparency in an organisation,

i.e. where tasks and functions are conducted in secret and are not

open to examination by other government officers or the public, the

opportunity for corruption increases. Transparency is a

prerequisite for democracy in which sovereignty is vested in the

people and the conduct of civil servants must be open to

examination. It is therefore vital that citizens in general and the

media (radio, television, newspapers) in particular are guaranteed

the right to freedom of speech; the media can inform citizens of

any action by a civil servant that might be corrupt in nature and

appropriate calls for action can be made. A transparent system

deters corruption as the conduct of civil servants is under

constant scrutiny. The absence of accountability In a

democracy, public leaders and civil servants must be accountable to

the people they serve. Accountability means that public leaders and

officers must provide logical and acceptable explanations for their

actions and decisions to the people they serve. Civil servants and

officers in responsible positions must at all times adhere to the

principles of transparency and be accountable to the people they

serve. However, accountability is dependent on the enforcement of

rules, regulations and policies, if there is a lack of effective

institutional mechanisms civil servants cannot be held accountable

and corrupt practices can flourish. The absence of a watchdog

institution If there are no internal or external institutions

or bodies that investigate cases of corruption or that act on

complaints relating to corruption, employees may take advantage of

the fact that the chance of being caught doing something corrupt is

remote. Even if the offender is caught, the consequences would

probably be minimal if the system has no watchdog function.

Corruption in less developed countries Although corruption

is a universal phenomenon and exists in all countries, it is a more

serious matter in less developed countries. The conditions of these

countries are such that corruption is likely to have different

causes and consequences than in more developed countries. The

socio-economic conditions in low income countries are more

conducive to the growth of corruption. Corruption is a symptom of

deep-rooted economic and political weaknesses and shortcomings in

the legislative and judicial system of the country. To aggravate

the situation, accountability in these countries is generally weak,

the chances of being caught are small and the penalties when caught

are light. Non-governmental organizations that could serve as

watchdogs and provide information on corrupt practices are

generally not well developed.

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