The ongoing nationwide public anti-corruption movement to bring good governance, public accountability and solve issues of justice is opening unprecedented chapters. It reached a level where the public and government met and talked about common issues with an aim of reaching consensual solution.
Addis Ababa, Oromia, Tigray and Amhara region have held high public forums. And the forums are still ongoing. Leaders at various levels were involved in the discussion and dialogue with the people.
On those platforms, the public spoke about corruption, good governance with courage and confidence and without any hesitation, and the public has formed assets seized from criminal justice regarding the issue. Not only were the platform a great lesson as a first time, but can also provide an important lesson on the next similar endeavors. The process must be ongoing.
The public mobilization has exposed the fact that officials that are put to their seats by the public vote to serve the people have been committing various crimes, including transferring government houses to individual names.
And the government is taking measure against it. And through an evaluation that was done recently on the construction sector, it was exposed that in Addis Ababa alone more than 60 individuals were involved in construction works without any paperwork, license or the necessary tender bid.
How this came about is a controversial issue. Many theories can be provided for this. Out of these theories, one is, in order for the main contractor to finish its work as per the contract it entered in a hush-hush, it might have given the contract irresponsibly to these people without asking for competence verification so that they can finish it quickly. And if this is the case, then they should answer for what they have done.
This is because; we are seeing condominium houses that fractures, tear down or flatten shortly after they are built. So, those who should be held accountable by the law should be made to face the law. And the construction sector has many complicated problems within it as it is hugely tied to rent-seekers and corrupts – and the government should be looking at the situation from this vantage point.
Basically, corruption, rent-seeking is often bred and sowed within government bureaucracy. It gains life and soul through the support and cooperation of these entities. And this is a fact that stands anywhere in the world.
As the public mobilization platform has displayed the commitment of the government to not only identify but also solve the issues, it has enabled the people to speak up their mind. The honesty has brought common understanding and further trust between the public and government.
It is believed that the first movement should continue by maintaining the enthusiasm and momentum that was during the start of the public platform. It requires the integrated work of the government and public to maintain its consistency. Indeed! It should not be just a season highlight of the media.
Of course, as it is a chronic problem it cannot be expected that it will be resolved in a short time, in a smooth manner. It will take extensive time and constant struggle. In order to break the backward corruption mentality that has tied to our culture like ‘Seshom Yalbela, Sishar Yikochawal’, educating and making aware the society about the issues continuously through schools and other public institutions should be part of the fight against rent-seeking and corruption. It should be known that stealing public and government property and possession is a criminal act.
The public mobilization was first initiated by the Addis Ababa city administration, and wide-ranging measures have been made against sub-city leaders subsequent to the undertaking - especially in relation to land administration, good governance and justice problems.
Like Oromia and Amhara regions, Tigray region held the mobilization platform, where subsequent to it various individuals that were at leadership level have been evaluated and demoted from their place.
Considering the public platform and dialogue started in short period time, the measures that have been taken so far should be seen as a start. As the measure is not enough compared to the misery and harm the issue has brought on the country, huge public platforms that involves the public should be organized at every level to fight it until a mechanism that will bring sustainable solution is setup. The fact that strong and consecutive works should be waged within the fight against corruption and rent-seeking requires attention.
Now it might be possible to lessen the level of corruption and rent-seeking with the measure of the government is taking, but it cannot bring nationwide and lasting solution. It will take a long time and effort to introduce basic functional and organizational monitoring and control methods to solve major challenge in a new way.
On the other hand, leaving every problem and blame on the government cannot bring lasting solution either. Instead, just as the public played huge role in exposing corruption and rent-seekers, they should also stand by the government in looking for the solution.
The public mobilization is moving with broad-based public support, and will need further participation from all the relevant stakeholders in order to take it to whole another level.
The initiated public mobilization should continue by maintaining its momentum. There are some efforts to cool down this momentum, so we should make sure such issues don’t block the momentum of the fight against corruption.
As the public mobilization have shown signs of success, it should continue strongly to further enhance the results. And it should be counted that the solution to any problem is available from the public and government.