by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 01 June 2006)
In this year’s May/June edition of Foreign Affairs, an article entitled, “The Long War Against Corruption” talked about how corruption in developing countries is undermining international goals of development.
The article quoted from Martin Meredith’s book, “The Fate of Africa,” when it noted, “that out of more than 50 countries on the continent today, only South Africa and Botswana are better off than those African countries freed from colonialism were four decades ago, despite hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign aid.”
The article continued, “Massive embezzlement and extortion by officials in recipient countries, weak financial administration, and lack of oversight have limited the effect of international assistance.”
However, the most eye-opening piece of the article paints a scary picture for developing countries. “Developed countries may be wary of financing new programs, such as the next round of the UN Millennium Challenge Account…unless they are credibly assured that effective corruption controls are in place.”
Which bring us back to Guyana. Up to the point of this article’s submission, there has been nothing but deafening silence from the government in regards to important developing matters in recent days. Allegations of corruption and wrongdoing are rampant with yet another taped conversation.
In the words of the AFC’s Khemraj Ramjattan from yesterday’s Kaieteur News, “…it is a shame that the PPP government and President are not reacting in any way to this most abhorrent development within the higher echelons of the police force.”
I could not agree more with Mr. Ramjattan. Where is the condemnation of law enforcement officials who plant drugs on unsuspecting citizens? Where is the outrage that a public official would behave in such an inappropriate manner? Quite honestly, it is also an outrage that nothing has been said or done as yet.
There are always those who want proof of corruption in Guyana – as if corrupt behaviour is conducted in daylight while the world is watching. No, this type of behaviour occurs in the shadows. However, if anyone wants proof of corruption, the silence on this matter from both of Guyana’s longstanding parties is all the proof anyone needs.
Meanwhile, this newspaper reported yesterday that some citizens have grown weary with the injustice of the current system and plan to stage a week-long protest against “what they term as the government's inaction towards bringing the crime situation in the country under control. This move has stemmed from the detention of numerous persons, who have not been charged, during the operation currently underway by the Joint Services.”
Good for them! It is a scary thing when those whom we trust to protect and serve us become the very ones we should fear. I do not for one second believe every officer is corrupt.
However, this is truly a case when a little yeast will leaven the whole batch since even those who attempt to keep their hands clean will eventually be faced with a decision to turn in their fellow corrupt officers or keep their mouths shut.
The international community can impose strict anticorruption laws that require the complicity of developing countries that want to receive aid, but who is going to enforce those laws? It is difficult to keep a vigilant eye on suspected corruption within developing countries such as Guyana.
Ultimately, it is protests like the one previously mentioned that would create an inhospitable environment for corrupt public servants. If the government will not demand justice, and they do seem to be too busy doing something else to do anything about this recent tape situation, then it is up to the people to stand up and demand that justice prevails.
If the protests do not work, don’t lose heart yet. There is still one more way to make sure that your government officials hear your demands for justice – it’s in the voting booth. That is the beauty of democracy; if one government refuses to cater to the will of the people then they can simply replace it with a more responsive government.
There use to be a time when the PPP would not be afraid of an election since they were all but guaranteed a victory. Those days are over now and this is the year that the voice of the people will finally be heard.
It is time to clean up Guyana – and it should start with the corrupt law enforcement officials and politicians. After those criminals are properly disposed of, the rest will fall into place naturally.