Dark cloud looms over embezzlers, influence peddlers

A proposed anti-corruption law seeks to broaden the scope of offences categorised as corruption to include soliciting, accepting or offering illegal benefits, soliciting or offering sexual favours, influence peddling, making a decision based on favouritism, friendship, hatred or nepotism, and illicit enrichment.

It is not only embezzlers who are in for a rude shock in a new draft law on corruption that is currently before parliament.

“ …accepting or offering illegal benefits, soliciting or offering sexual favours, influence peddling, making a decision based on favouritism, friendship, hatred or nepotism, and illicit enrichment” have all been packaged under on crime: Corruption.

Many have been let off the hook with just a slap on the hand, and in worse case scenarios, been subject to dismissal. All that now is history as the new law envisages increasing penalties.

Most of the new additions are committed by people in authority but do not feature on the name-and-shame list published annually by the Office of the Ombudsman. Those who appear on the lists are usually petty bribe takers and givers, giving the impression that the big fish were being protected.

Perhaps the icing on the cake is including embezzlement on the list of corruption. It usually involves large sums of money and the culprits usually wield some measure of clout and are able to be left alone depending on the amount of influence they are able to peddle.

In the draft law, unilateral administrative decisions that were left to the whims of the boss have had their wings clipped and it should be a wakeup call. Questionable decisions will now come under scrutiny and there will be more accountability.

This will no doubt act as a deterrent measure and a constant reminder to those in leadership positions that they owe allegiance to the people they lead, not the other way round as has been the case in the past. They are there to serve, not to be served.

It is a welcome development as we continue building a corruption-free society and we should not let our guard down but instead continue plugging any loophole that emerges.

 

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