(Xinhua) -- Gezahegn Tadesse, 58, knows how corruption can be a
danger to Ethiopia’s future, having lived through three governments.
“I have seen how corruption ate at the
foundation of Emperor Hailsealssie I who was deposed in a 1974 revolution, how
corruption helped ensure the demise of the military Junta ‘Derg’ in 1991 and how
corruption helped fuel deadly anti-government protests in 2016 with the present
government,” the Addis Ababa resident told Xinhua.
Nevertheless Tadesse is hopeful that
Ethiopia’s largest anti-corruption drive launched in July would bring societal
harmony and trust between the people and the government.
The anti-corruption drive has so far
seen the detention of a deputy minister, a brigadier general, a former head of
Ethiopian Roads Authority and prominent local and foreign business people in
connection with embezzlement estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars in
DANGER TO STABILITY
Tadesse’s warning about the dangers of
unchecked corruption is echoed by Costantinos Berhutesfa Costantinos, former
Chairperson of the African Union Anti-Corruption Advisory Board, who added that
corruption is becoming a source of tension and public complaints in Ethiopia.
“With Ethiopia having a small economy
during the imperial government and the military regime ‘Derg,’ political
corruption was the main reason for their demise,” said Costantinos.
“With Ethiopia recording unprecedented
development in the past decade, the threat of ‘economic corruption’ is
becoming more urgent,” said Costantinos.
Officials starting from Ethiopian
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to local cadres have also mentioned the
problem of individuals trying to unduly profit from state bureaucracy as a
critical problem in Ethiopia’s fight against corruption.
Already the Ethiopian government has
established an anti-corruption commission, instituted incentives to
whistleblowers and streamlined the federal attorney general office to better
prosecute corruption practices.
Costantinos, while welcoming the
government’s anti-corruption drive, urged it to encourage involvement of the
civil society, professional associations, community organizations and media.
CHINA’S EXPERIENCE SEEN AS VALUABLE ASSET
With Ethiopia’s ruling party Ethiopian
People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) looking to China to build a
strong developmental state, with a professional, ethical bureaucracy at its
head, some ask can China’s “zero tolerance” approach to corruption also work for
Costantinos said while every country
is different in its own way, there are experiences from China that Ethiopia
could integrate into its anti-corruption drive.
“Political leadership including in
anti-corruption drives requires intimate knowledge of public policy
analysis, formulation, management and development of strategic plans to
implement them,” he added.
He further focused on the need to
mimic the Chinese experience of creating a motivated, meritorious civil service,
where leaders of civil services are empowered to make civil services an active
instrument in carrying out government policies.
However Costantinos cautioned that
while the Ethiopian government has the major responsibility to combat corrupt
practices, the increasing trans-boundary nature of corruption means
collaboration with foreign governments is needed.
“Ethiopia should utilize international
legal mechanisms in its anti-corruption fight, as corruption is not confined
to national borders and money gained as a result of corrupt practices are
often kept outside of Ethiopia,” he said.