Today, the whole world is observing the International Anti-Corruption Day for the thirteen time under the theme ” United against corruption for development, peace and security.” In the same vein, Ethiopia is marking the day giving special attention to creating ethical youth and children.
Yes, offering civics and ethical education focusing on the ongoing fight against corruption will for sure bring the desired result as it lays a firm foundation in the efforts to own corruption free young generation. Moreover, it will further make today’s youth more disciplined and ethical.
In truth, some amount of public money are lost to corruption every year in Ethiopia , at the same time, the Federal Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission makes efforts in retrieving the stolen money. For instance, last year alone, the commission has regained over 67 million Birr from the corrupt individuals. Of course, such news gives lessons to those state officials who wish to be affluent through abusing state power and embezzling public money. But, more serious actions are yet expected from the government in this regard.
It is true that Ethiopia had been in abject poverty due to prolonged wars against feudalism and military dictatorship in the past and some corrupt officials who put their personal interests before the country and the people whom they vowed to serve in transparent and accountable manner.
Indeed, corruption is not something that could be eradicated once and for all through conducting intensive campaigns rather requires strong commitments from government officials, the public and pertinent actors.
Apparently, over the last two decades, the government of Ethiopia has been exposing and taking senior corrupt officials before court through the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission established 15 years ago. Tangible results have been registered in expanding ethics and anti-corruption education, preventing, investigating and prosecuting corruption offences over the years.
However, government corruption has been on rampage than ever before. There are a large number of officials who have accumulated wealth in illegal and unethical manners in this poor country. These individuals are becoming richer and richer by depositing a huge amount of money in the state and private banks and opening business in the names of their next of kin. Thus, the government and the commission need to be vigilant on these corrupt state office holders who play hide and seek as well as change their tactics whenever the state becomes tougher on them.
It is crystal clear that those who hold state offices should work tirelessly to serve their people and country without seeking personal advantages under any circumstances.
Obviously, there are some state officials who have lost their jobs and lives while attempting to expose the illegal acts of corrupt senior officials together with their collaborators. Therefore, the government and any pertinent bodies are expected to further strengthen their efforts in providing legal protection for such whistle-blowers.
In fact, some years back, the Commission have begun registering the property of state officials and civil servants in its efforts to fight against corruption . Though the commission has finalized the process of property registration, it has not yet made it public. As to the commission, it is preparing guideline aimed at creating transparent asset registration system.
In general, taking punitive action against corrupt officials by itself is not enough. The incumbent has to work further to have fellow citizens who detest all form of corruption. It is encouraging to hear that some elementary and primary schools as well as state and private universities have anti-corruption clubs in a view to deepening the awareness of the students towards corruption. Such clubs are helpful in fighting rent seeking mentality and bringing about the required outcomes in the fight against corruption.
It is quite convincing that instilling good morals and ethics among the children and the youth would be a smart strategy to curb corruption ultimately. It is also encouraging that the commission has identified building ethical youth and children as one of the thematic areas besides tax, land, justice administrations as well as public procurement and sales.
Since the youth constitute 70 per cent of the population, it is the primary victim of corruption and easily be vulnerable to corrupt practices. Similarly, children need to grow knowing the devastating impacts of corruption. Therefore, creating duty bound and ethical citizens is not the mere responsibility of the commission it rather requires the concerted efforts of families, schools, religious institutions, the government and the public at large.