Letters & Opinion

I Wish Corona Virus Would Have ‘killed’ Corruption in Our Region Instead

Image of Rev. Seth Ampadu, Superintendent Minister Methodist Church St Lucia.
By Rev. Seth Ampadu, Superintendent Minister Methodist Church St Lucia.

Corruption is one of the major challenges faced by almost all countries around the world. For me, it is like a “coronavirus”, which, if not eliminated, has the potential to destroy our entire society.

Corruption is a cancer that ravages a society. It has the potential to destroy trust and without trust, society breaks down. Today, it appears many people are afraid of COVID-19. Yes, we must be concerned because of how fast it is spreading and taking a lot of people. However, all we need to do is to be obedient to the directives given by the Government and the Ministry of Health and we will minimize the risk of catching it. By the grace of God, we shall surely overcome the fight against coronavirus. God is on our side so we will not fear and panic. Tomorrow is bright for us with the help of God.

I have to reiterate though, that I am of the view that we must be more afraid of corruption than coronavirus. I suggest, whilst we are paying serious attention to finding ways to prevent the coronavirus, we must also equally think about a way of fighting corruption in our region which for me is more cancerous to society.

Corruption plagues society more than this coronavirus. It is unfortunate that any time corruption is mentioned, many people are quick to point fingers at the politicians. Those people do forget that four fingers point right back at them. Per human nature, we are all corrupt. Corruption stemmed right down from the fall of Adam and Eve. So, corruption is not the politicians’ problem alone, it is our problem too!

In the book of Deuteronomy, God says: “You must not be partial or accept a bribe, for the bribe blinds the eyes of wise ones and distorts the words of righteous ones.” (Deuteronomy 16:19)

According to the World Bank, corruption is defined as the abuse of public office for private gain. The question is, what kind of society would there be if we do not trust the police, the politicians, and other holders of public office?

It seems to me that corruption is much more than a moral issue. It undermines public services and democracy in a society. Corruption in any form hurts the most vulnerable in the society. When monies are diverted into the pockets of corrupt officials in the society these are funds that could have been spent on housing for the homeless and that could have helped to pay medical bills for the defenseless and vulnerable in the society such as the:  sick,  needy,  elderly, young children and single unemployed mothers. Corruption harms the whole society and we must fight it as we are fighting COVID-19.

There are so many corrupt practices in our region which, if care is not taken, will destroy our people like coronavirus is destroying precious lives. There are several government workers who always arrive at work late and they are the first to leave work. For me, that is a corrupt practice because at the end of the month they receive a full salary. There are others who also extend their lunch hours and keep customers waiting for hours. It appears they forget that “time is money”. That practice too is a form of corruption. Again, conflict of interest, abuse of privileged information, favouritism, collusion with business interests, ‘buttering up’ for the procurement of contracts and unnecessary bureaucracy, all are part of corrupt practices.

Sometimes, just for a simple letter to be signed, you have to run up and down before it gets done because someone wants a ‘tip’. Burdensome administrative procedures, the negative attitude of some civil servants to work, and poor customer service are also part of corrupt practices, as well as absenteeism and leaving without permission during working hours to attend private functions such as funerals. I am not saying we should not go to funerals, but discretion needs to be used when deciding which funerals to attend or at least how to make up at work for the time spent at the funeral(s). Additionally, individuals who call in sick at regular intervals when they are not sick at all, also demonstrate a form of corruption. We can also talk about cronyism and nepotism for which you know the characteristics: kickbacks, political donations and fraud of all kinds.

There are some persons in our society who see the position they occupy as an opportunity to make a lot of money. In view of that, they often put their parochial and selfish interest ahead of their required responsibilities to the detriment of the nation.

Corruption is a societal evil. It takes the entire society to fight against it. Therefore, we must all get involved in fighting this monster as we are doing for COVID-19. Children from a tender age must be taught to be content. Those who pay bribes and those who take them must stop. We must all commit ourselves to greater transparency and honesty in the home, at the work place and in the society at large.

Corruption takes us away from God. God is calling us to change our ways. Just as we are trying to avoid habits that will cause us to catch coronavirus, we must also do away with those habits that lead to corrupt practices. We are being called to liberate our society from the chains of corruption. This fight is very hard, but with God on our side we can prevail. Shalom!

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