The better question is this: Do we care anymore to do anything about it? And still better, do those who have a constitutional mandate to investigate reports and gather evidence, to institute charges and prosecute those so accused have the interest and will to deliver what is so urgently required?
Why is such a gaping hole in so many segments of governance still largely untouched in this society? Why is it that even when the national costs and disgraces continue to mount, there is no determination to forge ahead in the required manner?
The problem with most of those questions is that they prompt yet more questions, the chief of which is this: Are they-the probers and hearers of facts-clean enough to be genuinely committed enough to go after the national corruption industry, wherever it leads, and regardless of who is involved? Do we have the political will, the political cleanliness to move after those who wound this land? Going after wherever corruption leads is like looking for sand on the seashore: it is that plentiful in dirty Guyana, but the problem is that those going after the cheaters and stealers become so transformed by their targets that they become indistinguishable from them, and impotent to address the needs of this society.
The real issue, the heart of the corruption problem in this country, is that it is all over and the so-called ‘big fish’ go exceedingly high. They have a lot of power, and those who do not have such power do not suffer from any deficiency, as they have more than enough money power to make good things happen. That is, good for them, and good also for those on the receiving end of their rich bargaining for the pass of looking the other way, or pretending not to find anything after all the digging, or of making certain positive outcomes possible in a difficult situation. They make for role models worthy of imitation.
Here it is that there is official knowledge, and endless street intelligence, of corrupt public servants, corrupt political people and across the board, corrupt documentations (GECOM, as the latest example, corrupt process (GECOM again), corrupt participants (still with GECOM).
Reputations have been soiled, some ruined. On this, we hasten to govern and build but we continue as usual.
Amidst all of this, we still wonder how and why that we have such a corrupt and fraudulent electoral process. The irony is that some of the same people crying the loudest of a corrupted electoral process themselves flourished from the lavish benefits of corrupt practices in other fields for many long years. The Auditor General furnished some general information that confirms the standards and practices that are part of the professional and cultural norms of this country.
On Thursday last, one of our front-page captions was “Guyana’s poor systems spell disaster for oil money” (KN May 21). There is that seductive word (money) that never fails to drain any principled resistance out of numerous Guyanese. It is also a reflection of how poor our systems which are aimed at risk management controls are adhered to currently and have been for the longest time.
The article spoke of an era of poor systems for governance, procurement and management that has existed for decades. Anything that is so weak in governance (oversight), procurement (public spending), and so negative in results that is allowed to survive for so long (“an era” and “decades”) is a menu leading to national financial madness and a recipe for the many governance disasters in the spotlight. GECOM stands as the public pinnacle; there are others.
In responses to his annual reports, the Auditor General noted that, “yearly recommendations to Ministries, Departments and Regions to improve systems and practices for governance and accountability are not acted upon.”
For emphasis: NOT ACTED UPON! To highlight further the depth of the problem, Guyana’s chief auditor pointed out “that 76 percent (76 PERCENT!) of his recommendations were not fully implemented with many of them being repeated each year.”
This can only happen when senior bureaucrats in the service of state and taxpayers are part of many cover-ups and conspiracies to thwart progress towards a cleaner governance system. When corruption is king, then paupers are made of all of us. In our impoverished state, we go to international agencies with documented appeals and they disdain us and distance from us.
From the outside, the World Bank issued its own voiceless and wordless report that frowns at Guyana’s elections ‘hijinks’: it has been the blankness of banishment from favourable consideration of a loan application. Clearance is being withheld unless a convincing effort is made to produce a credible elections result.
The international lending agency has been muted in the instance of Guyana, while its eloquence is captured in continuing approvals of emergency COVID-19 relief applications to ease financial burdens that come with the pandemic.
Applications from some 100 countries have been handled with alacrity and the courtesy due at this urgent time. Guyana’s application was several months ago, but it has been treated like a skunk.
Put differently, a corrupt pariah nation riddled by acute and chronically poor governance systems that now extend glaringly into its national elections process.
The World Bank has not uttered a single word of objection relative to GECOM; its drawn out and studied silence speak thunderously.
The message is unmistakable: clean up the process. Let the recount produce the credible. Then there will be movement of application lodged. Now an entire country is held hostage internationally because it fostered a climate of chronic corruption that is widely accepted domestically.
Now the proceedings and developments-every one of them-within the publicized confines of GECOM are being monitored with eagle’s eyes.
The handiwork of Guyanese political wolves is being watched and scrutinized like never before. GECOM and its officials are under the microscope. From our perspective, the sum of what has unfolded is a byproduct of all the malpractices that have prospered in law enforcement, courtyards of the judiciary, longstanding political and governance practices, and in the ranks of those with obligations to pursue lawbreakers and end their chronic illegalities.
The problem is that nobody has been policing those with a duty to oversee some satisfactory degree of law-abiding stability in this society. Not surprisingly, the watchers and protectors (protesters too) have been among the worst of offenders, who have operated with great impunity. We could identify more than a few constitutional offices that have lapsed to the great detriment of this society, with particular emphasis on two counts.
First, the country is impoverished and, worse still, many are endangered, since the guilty are, in essence, set free by private decree to continue to wreak havoc on an exposed and victimized populace.
In the excitements about elections and the settled fears over the COVID-19 virus, concerns about corruption and all of its countless byproducts have been forced to the back of a long bus. That back is so far from the front burners of focus and energies that corrupt practices and corrupt people have been given a free hand.
To be more accurate, they were given a free hand before the advent of the two current viruses. Thus, in effect, what is noticed, experienced, protested loudly and bitterly about at a national, even international, level, are representative of merely what is the norm in everyday Guyana, and which is now firmly cultural and overwhelmingly political.
It is so embedded and cultural that even in the midst of pandemic anxieties, there is exploitation of our vulnerable by our guardians. Most new policies put into practice are seen as opportunities to capitalize by squeezing something of a leaking system.
To take this to its natural conclusions, what we complain squabble over relative to elections and the incredible barefaced thievery of our oil wealth, is the climaxing of the now generational corruptions that have poisoned at lower, less visible levels in society.
What rages at the political heights before the world (elections) cascade down into the social tiers with most operating by their own law and own hand. It is usually an unclean hand. Thus, we reap in public what we sowed in secret. Oil and elections stand as our two warped and wasteful children before a world that thought it had seen everything that was dirty and profane. Then Guyana came. The equivalent of who and how we are has rarely been encountered before.
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