Opinion – Materialism and social status fueling corruption

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Faustinus Shikukutu

At the dawn of independence and Namibia being one of the last born of Africa, one would have thought that the country had learned from its older brothers not to follow their mistakes, which destroyed most of the African economies and social cohesion.

Although the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) was introduced in 2003, 13 years after independence, as a preventive measure against corruption, many people had already developed resistance and their egos had mutated, leading them to continue infecting others.

So resistance and infections had caused some people to say, “If others are doing it, why not me?” People have made materialism and social class the primary microscope for social approval.

These days, driving a flashy car, owning a mansion, residing in an affluent suburb or occupying a higher position in society determines one’s status in the public space.

This has encouraged or has continued to stimulate many people to engage in corrupt activities to satisfy their egos. Many graduates who enter the workforce with only one or two years of experience, and who are sometimes incompetent, use all corrupt antics to advance to higher positions in the name of their social status.

Satisfaction with materialism and social class ego leads many people to embezzle funds to seek social recognition, as evidenced by reports of the disappearance of money in government, the private sector or banking institutions, depriving citizens of necessary resources or hard-earned money.

Corruption is widely regarded as one of the main obstacles to economic growth, investment and poverty reduction in most developing countries. The World Bank defines corruption as the use of public property or assets for personal gain (Campos and Pradhan, 2007).

Corruption has many faces: bureaucratic corruption, nepotism and patronage as well as state capture (Plummer, 2012). It includes corruption, nepotism, fraud and extortion (Özler and Büyükarslan, 2011). Moreover, Transparency International postulates that corruption is “the abuse of power entrusted to private gain” (Kolstad et al, 2008).

Corruption is all about dishonest or unlawful behavior, especially on the part of powerful people, including, for example, government officials or men in uniform.

The various forms and expressions of corruption can, in fact, form an endless list as new, more sophisticated, subtle or covert forms are almost certain to emerge.

The current situation in Namibia is that corruption is reflected in virtually all sectors of society. In some cases, some members of society celebrate corrupt individuals who have enriched themselves by stealing and looting public funds.

This encourages the continued plunder of public funds in blatant profanity of the public economic interest and development.

The case in some of these sectors with tangible and intangible support for corrupt elements is that funds earmarked for economic development projects are summarily plundered by political and contractual kleptomaniacs.

Despite our understandable and frequent focus on currency exchanges involving officials and government favors, corruption does not necessarily involve the exchange of money and can be public or private.

Perhaps the central and paradigmatic case of political corruption is public officials accepting envelopes filled with cash to favor the corrupt in the exercise of their official powers.

Apart from political corruption which might not be endemic in Namibia, the country is plagued with recruitment corruption, where applicants are required to pay in cash, in livestock or with their body (sex) to get the job. Yet it is certain that corruption can always exist where no money changes hands.

Favoritism towards particular individuals, groups or interests could be traded for other kinds of “inducements”, for example reciprocal preferences in hiring, job benefits or promotions; and favoritism can also involve the exchange of useful “inside” information.

Job interviews are simply used as a formality to blind the public that the recruitment procedures were followed, when in reality the preferred candidate got the job before attending the interview.

Political scientist Michael Johnston argued that “in some corrupt exchanges, such as favoritism and nepotism,” “a considerable amount of time may elapse between the receipt of the quid pro quo and the reimbursement of the quo, and the exchange may be conditioned. by many factors other than immediate gain.

In the public sector, for example, many public servants can spend all day scrolling through their cell phones or watching movies on YouTube as files pile up, waiting for someone to promise to pay for it. take care of the file.

These people get their full pay at the end of the month, but only do their paid work at a breakneck pace. The irony of these corrupt practices is that the lucky ones can escape the system for a longer period of time, while the unlucky ones get caught the first time.

One wonders if after having accumulated all the wealth and held the highest positions in government or the private sector through corrupt means, one feels proud of accomplishment or has a bad conscience.

The ethical dilemma arises when many people are blinded by and exemplify these corrupt practices.

Sometimes accomplishments through corrupt means are used as a yardstick for success, while those who follow ethical procedures to survive, get a job, or get their possessions are seen as failures in life. Better to get anything in life ethically than to have a bad conscience for the rest of your life that you have reached corrupt things or positions.

2021-08-23 Journalist

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