Corruption is the use of entrusted authority for private gain. Corruption has two sides, the receiver and the giver. According to Myint (2000), both parties to corruption engage in the practice to gain from it and, therefore, both should be accounted for the practice. Corruption is vital barrier to the development of a country. The World Bank has identified it as the main stumbling block to developing countries to their development endeavors.
The societal ill is most outspoken in the public sector, and it can be greed or need based. Top government official carries forward greed instigated corruption, even though, rich; greed drives them to amass more wealth to themselves. Need based corruption is undertaken by relatively low paid official with the purpose of obtaining more income to support themselves and their families. In this paper am going to analyze critically the issue of corruption, Daniel & Cheryl (1998).
I disagree with the statement that, corruption is a western concept and that some societies with the ‘gift culture’ cannot live without it and has no negative meaning. To begin with, parties to corruption, the giver and the receiver involve in it for gains. The gains are obtained as a result of defrauding the public. Take, for example, an importer who obtains a contract to import stale low-cost milk, the importer enjoys the extra returns obtained from the cheap commodity but the detriments are borne by the public who may catch infections due to the consumption of the expired commodity.
The costs of corruption far exceed the benefits which may be realized from it. A gift culture means that top government officials are exceedingly rich. When called to public meetings, for example, they are expected to contribute more due to the economic power vested in them. There are no real benefits realized from this because the government officials only use the taxes which have been paid by the public to give the outstanding benefits. The gift culture can only be enjoyed by people who have the substance to give out bribes in order to receive the favors; Members of the society do not belong to the same class. The society is made up of different strata based on the economic class of individual.
A gift culture will only benefit those members of the society who belong to higher social classes and are able to give out bribes to receive favors, the low class members of the society are left out, the society is, therefore, divided and as such corruption can not be fully acceptable in a society. It is only practiced by a few members of the society. Even though, a society can be termed as being corrupt and seemingly embracing corruption, this generalization is in disfavor to some members of the society who detest corruption and never benefit from it.
Even though, some societies have traditions of the beneficial exchange of rewards for services rendered, this does not apply to corruption because even though, the parties to corrupt deals may benefit, this will not benefit the society in general. Take, for example, when a company is recruiting staff, and some unscrupulous company officials accept bribes from applicants. This will benefit the successful applicants and the unscrupulous official, but it would have defrauded the society.
The applicants who could even be better qualified are denied their chance by the corruption. Gifts and rewards only benefits a few members of the society and are, therefore, inappropriate to generalize the whole idea of rewards for benefits because it accounts for only a small or negligible part of the society who stand to gain from it while the larger part stands to lose. Corruption is a societal ill, and there is no society which will generically accept it.
Corruption as a cultural tradition does not apply to the whole society; it is only propagated by a few members of the society usually in public offices to their benefit and at the expense of the other members of the society. No society has corruption generic to each member of the society. Corruption in a society is classified into three categories; it may be rare, widespread or systemic. In communities where corruption is rare, there are remarkably few incidences of it, which are usually, extremely difficult to identify.
When it is widespread, it means that it occurs in large numbers, in the society, scandals abound in the society, and it is possible to identify the corrupt individuals in the society. If it is systemic, it means that it is inherent, for members of the society to receive certain services have to bribe the officials. Corruption as a cultural tradition does not suits only a few members of the society who practice it. When a government is termed as corrupt, this does not mean that all the officials in the government are corrupt, it is only some unscrupulous officials who are scandalous and painted an image that the government is corrupt and tainted its image.
The same applies to culture as a determinant of the level of corruption in a society. When a certain community is termed to have a culture of corruption, such a postulation does not go to the finer details of the society to analyze its individual constituents. When a proper analysis of the mistaken corrupt culture in a society, it will be found out that only a few members of the society taint its culture and makes it appear corrupt. It is, therefore, to judge a community as whole as having a corrupt culture.
Some public sector or public sector officials use the gift-giving tradition as a corruption tool to take advantage of the people. This is usually done by politicians to solicit for support from the people when the times for elections come. The gifts may be in the form of services that the politicians render to the society, for example, a politician may provide a free eye check to a community, the community will be will be made to believe that the unscrupulous officials funded the service from their pockets while the funding was done out of public money. This will be corruption in a sheep’s wool “in the name of gift giving”.
When the politicians are called for fundraising, they contribute enormous sums to make the public believe on their generosity; however, they do this with the intention of winning credibility from the public. The contributions they make are from the public funds. The unscrupulous officials masquerade corruption to appear like it is gifts they are giving out while it is public money they are using which is embezzlement of public funds amounting to corruption. They use the gift giving traditions to lie to the public, obtain their support and through corruption they are able to stay in their offices.
T.I website, DOI: http://www.transparency.org/whoweare/organisation/faqs_on_corruption#defineCorruption. Retrieved on 17th July 2012
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Myint, U. (2000). Corruption: Causes, consequences and cures. Asia-pacific development journal, 7 (2): pp 33-58
Daniel, K. & Cheryl, W. (1998). Corruption and development, in IMF/World Bank. Finance and development, 35(1): pp 7