CORRUPTION AND NEPOTISM AS A SOCIAL AND PUBLIC PHENOMENON

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CORRUPTION AND NEPOTISM AS A SOCIAL AND PUBLIC PHENOMENON

According to the Strasbourg Convention (1999), corruption threatens legal norms, democracy, human rights and freedom, undermines the system of state management, social justice and fairness, distorts fair competition, and hinders economic development and moral basis of society. It is not corruption alone which is prevalent in African politics, nepotism is also deeply rooted in all African governments. It is thought that there are many factors that influence entry into the world of corruption such as the desire to get rich as soon as possible; to gain illegal property which easily seen as a form of enrichment; the benefit of any personal interest, family, or privilege, the benefit of any right or upgrade to higher levels of hierarchy.

Nepotism is the favouring of relatives and friends for positions of influence or employment. A particularist spirit in economic activities and in public life, which places personal loyalties and obligations to kin and friends above other considerations, may clash with the demands of the industry. It may foster extreme practices of nepotism – such as putting relatives on the payroll even though they are incompetent or do not report for work – which may have a crippling effect on a small industrial undertaking and seriously reduce the efficiency of even the largest enterprises. Inimical to efficiency in most circumstances, such practices may have a detrimental effect on the development of the industry and the country at large. It is argued that nepotism reflects the presence of tribal and peasant social morals in organizations where they replace norms and principles typical of industrial society. One of the biggest disadvantages when it comes to nepotism is most relatives are employed without a serious interview. In some institutions in The Gambia, many relatives are assigned to offices without the right qualification or skills. Another second-order effect of nepotism may be to distort incentives in the economy. The most entrepreneurial and enterprising people may find it more rewarding to invest money and/or time to befriend politicians and other powerful  people instead of innovating.

Nepotism is affecting the employment of nonprofessionals, with implications for democratic institutions. Nepotism is affecting the hiring and advancement of relatives in important sectors of the country. So, as the main concern for nepotism, is that it rejects the employment of workers and prevents the most qualified candidate for a job while choosing the hiring of a relative, who does not possess the necessary qualities, and this may give the impression of classic nepotism and harmful and this been happening the market may face other candidates who may have higher education, work experience etc. Corruption is a permanent risk to the economic system, but also for the country’s legal system.

When regulating nepotism, it would appear that there are several considerations and challenges to bear in mind. A key consideration is whether to absolutely prohibit nepotism using “bright-line rules” (World Bank 2001) or to focus on having a merit-based system in place and full disclosure of relationships between applicants and current employees. I suggest that it is fairer and more effective to focus on having a merit-based objective and valid selection system in place rather than all-out bans. I argued that this helps to ensure that an employer hires the best-qualified applicants and that it also produces true procedural justice with all applicants being treated the same regardless of who they know and who they are related to.

We are aware that corruption, a huge stretch or small, is a threat to democratic institutions and human rights and fundamental freedoms. On the other hand, it inhibits and undermines economic development by deepening poverty in the country and beyond. Corruption is part of the phenomenon that is hard to define because it’s meaning changes depending on the time and the social and political context. Long-term effects of corruption are the worst of any society. Research has shown that corruption negatively affects the poor, or that one of its consequences is that the poor become poorer, and increased economic inequality in society.

It is a challenge that must and can be overcome, but which requires a commitment to ethical human resources. Many employees in government positions receive a low wage like clerks, office staff, etc. Hence they expect to make money through bribery. For this, they try to delay the work for so long that the client is fed up and opts for bribery for progress in the work. So the low salary is one of the reasons for corruption. To curb this, their salaries should be raised periodically. Secondly, Law to dismiss from service if found to be involved in corruption should be imposed. For instance, if you see cases where the anti-corruption bureau rides an officer home and finds disproportionate assets, the officer is suspended from employment and taken for judicial trials. But after a couple of years, you will find them in employment at the same or even better positions. So this creates no fear among the officials against corruption. Further, some officers are never caught up for corruption during their tenure in office. In such a case, laws should be enacted to punish even during their retirement after service. Many cases of corruption take years to be given a verdict. This delay in cases creates a lack of fear of being corrupt and also huge time span for court trials gives sufficient time to make alterations in the witness. Establishing fast-track courts and giving severe punishment for corruption practice will keep control of corruption.

Speed up the work process in government institutes can also be seen as a possibility to eradicate corruption. Most corporate offices are in full-fledged running by 8-9 am. But the government offices start from 10 to 11 am and wind up by 3.30 to 4 pm with a lunch break of one a half hour in between. This indicates how much commitment lies in work and how fast the work goes on. If there are mistakes in the work or delay in the work, civilians have to run behind those workers to rectify or complete the work. In doing so, they pay bribes to get the work done. This makes the chances of corruption more or else work is not done. So there should be the accountability of daily work done in government works and targets to complete the work on a time basis or else instead of being public servants, they tend to act as public bosses.

Media outlets should be forced to put up advertisements about corrupt officers or companies just like normal ads to bring awareness in public and also shame the company. Even many reporters are aware of some scam or corruption; they stay silent without revealing it to the press for having received monetary benefits to do so. Though the media is well aware of the corruption happening they stay silent due to their support for some political parties or else their owners get some monetary benefits from the rulers. If media personnel is found to be guilty of not having exposed the scam or corruption intentionally, they have to be prosecuted, and their licenses are withdrawn.

Another possible solution is keeping inflation low. This is another factor for keeping corruption high and also persistent. Due to a rise in prices, any amount of income seems to be insufficient. This inflation is corruption involving politicians and businessmen. Businessmen try to raise the prices to sell their inventory or stock of goods at a higher price. For this, the politicians support them and are paid monetary or other benefits. This is a cheap business tactic, but even the so-called richest business magnets play this corruption game. So, keeping inflation low not only minimizes corruption but also reduces poverty.

In summary, this article casts new light in a broadly manner on the consequences of corruption and nepotism especially in developing countries more so The Gambia in particular.

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