The corruption monster is devouring this country. Yet there is either indifference or sloth or distance in facing this monster face front, and with arms raised to strike.
With the now almost ancient change in government, matters have compressed to the tiring normalcy of: some talk, a little more paper, the appearance of controls, and then a vast emptiness of either silence or meagre movement.
Like the old government, there are lots of policies and procedures. Like the old government, there is an absence of hard-charging, freewheeling, town-taming troop to clean up what is one dirty territory. This is a great part of the story of the new government.
The opposition is very careful about the corruption grenades it hurls at its adversary; those can backfire and hurt their own people and interests, as it has embedded people. For its part, the government realises that it has its own baggage, and walks a careful line: in Guyanese lingo, it is forced to tie bundle with rotten rope. A president stands almost alone. This is the political landscape.
From the bureaucratic side, there appears to be neither professional pride nor personal dignity nor individual ethics at the executive and senior management levels to confront and clear up the air, through convincing proof. This is what it is. There are no sacred cows. There are no protected species. But it is the same old song: silence and sullenness. It is the most contemptuous and sour of songs, which should enrage the Guyanese public eking out a living the hard way: one dollar at a time, and the hard way: they earn it honestly.
Bureaucrats present ramshackle defences. They will not be reactive; pander to the press. That is, responding to every exposure in the press. Sad to say, only a small part of the press seems to be moved by corruption, admitted by one and all as a contagious disease at pandemic gallop. Internal and external auditors are either stymied or part of going-through-the-motion exercises.
The drilling energy is not there; and so, too, the will to connect dots to arrive at a compelling picture. The Guyana Police Force is nowhere near to the level of sophistication and savvy to probe local white-collar crime. Try as it may, the reports are not flattering of rings made around the police probers, and their own demands for a monetary fix to make matters go away when stumbled upon. There is that special skill that comes from long familiarity with people and place.
This opens up the real story that is of Guyana, and the entrenched problems relative to any possible solutions concerning pervasive corruption. It is not about seminars and processes and systems and training. All of those are far-reaching and can mean much. But only when one and only one mandatory ingredient is in place. Only when they fall on the receptive ears, stir the ready hearts, and move the furious minds of a certain kind of people. Concerned. Conscientious. Committed.
People are what make the procedures and processes come alive; convert all the training to pursue relentlessly facts and truths; and produce material results. It is where senior politicians (opposition and government) speak out without fear, because they have no secrets squirreled away, no comrades to protect. It is where senior public servants are courageous in stepping forward to face the music of the press (as discordant and unwelcomed as it may be) and not only promise to clear the air; but with every intention of delivering. And then doing just that; leaders have to set tone and example. But to do so, they cannot be part of the gift-giving and collecting arrangements of longstanding culture.
When the heads are clean and clear of taint, then they are positioned to give the charge to subordinates and demand results. These are the problems to possible solutions. Begins and ends with people.
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