29 October 2012

Dag 126: Turning a Blind Eye to Corruption

Corruption is one of the major problems in South Africa. Because the market economy is unable to meet the demands for basic needs - the government has a big role in making sure everyone is provided for. One of the means of financing these services, as we have seen in previous blogs, is the raising of taxes.

The money that is raised by the government is meant to be redistributed to the people of South Africa to combat inequality and dire living conditions. However, many municipalities keep on 'losing their money' where it seems to just disappear into thin air. Public officials working on district or regional levels use their access to these resources to enrich themselves, instead of putting the money where it's supposed to go.

When reading through South African newspapers, you'll constantly find stories of how this or that person has misused their position and thereby inflicted costs on communities in need of help.

To gain more understanding on corruption - here's a few words you may have heard about in the news - with their explanations (Guwa-Ngamlana 2009):

"a) Bribery: bribery involves the promise, offering or giving of a benefit that improperly affects the actions or decisions of a public official. This benefit may accrue to the public official, another person or entity. A variation of this manifestation occurs where a political party or government is offered, promised or given a benefit that improperly affects the actions or decisions of the political party or government.

b) Fraud: this involves actions or behaviour by a public official, other person or entity that fool others into providing a benefit that would not normally accrue to the public official, other persons or entity.

c) Embezzlement: involves theft of resources by persons entrusted with the authority and control of such resources.

d) Extortion: involves coercing a person or entity to provide a benefit to a public official, another person or entity in exchange for acting (or failing to act) in a particular manner.

e) Abuse of power: involves a public official using his/her vested authority to improperly benefit another public official, person or entity (or using the vested authority to improperly discriminate against another person, official or entity).

f) Conflict of interest: involves a public official acting or failing to act on a matter where the public official has an interest or another person or entity that stands in a relationship with the public official, i.e. a public official considers tenders for a contract and awards the tender to a company of which his/her partner is the director.

g) Favouritism: involves the provision of services or resources according to personal affiliations of a public official. An example would be a Mayor ensuring that only persons from his/her political organisation are successful in tenders or in employment.

h) Nepotism: involves a public official ensuring that family members are appointed to public service positions or that family members receive contracts."

One of the major arguments for free market economy is that the government cannot be trusted with the allocation of resources, because politicians and public officials will invariably pursue their personal interests in spite of the costs they inflict on society.

Within an Equal Money System this problem will be circumvented through not giving people the responsibility to allocate resources. Resources allocation will be a highly-automated system with many safety-measures, ensuring that no-one is able to manipulate the flow of resources so that they end up in their own pockets!

Guwa-Ngamlana, N. 2009. http://www.afesis.org.za/Local-Governance-Articles/corruption-at-the-local-government-level-time-to-crack-the-whip, Consulted 29 October 2012.
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