Lest the Achievements of Upstanding Citizens Are Soiled By the Corrupt

Tributes have been pouring in for the legacy that Alemayehu Atomsa, the erstwhile president of the Oromia Regional State, left behind ever since he passed away some ten days ago.

The Oromia regional government and the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Front (EPRDF) both attested to the commitment he displayed in combating rent-seeking in statements they issued in honor of the late president. We offer our condolences to the family of Alemayehu.

Alemayehu was widely acclaimed for the bold measures he took soon upon assuming the presidency of Oromia. He is particularly remembered for the tireless effort he made to put a stop to the seemingly uncontrollable land-grabbing in the towns of Oromia adjoining the capital Addis Ababa and bringing to justice officials of the state mired to their eyeballs in corruption. Though he was prevented by ill health from seeing through the campaign to root out corruption from Oromia, many acknowledge his positive contribution in this regard. May his soul rest in peace!

The EPRDF has been reiterating beginning from the tenure of the former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi that corruption and the lack of good governance are the greatest challenges facing the country. It tried to demonstrate that it was committed to tackling corruption by arresting and prosecuting a year ago a slew of senior government officials and prominent businesspersons on corruption charges. And it said on several occasions that the anti-corruption drive focuses not only on putting behind bar suspects, but also eliminating the causes that give rise to the practice.

Nevertheless corruption continues to be the worst enemy of the people of Ethiopia as does the absence of good governance. Some government and party officials who hide behind grandiloquent slogans and pseudo identities are to blame for this sad state of affairs. They encourage criminality over legality, perpetrate miscarriage of justice and human rights violations, prevent the equitable distribution of the country’s resources among citizens and generally are involved one way or another in the bad things the government is to blame for.

These wily characters lay low when the anti-corruption drive intensifies and grips the public’s imagination. And when the fervor dies they resume with their usual practice even more brazenly. Admittedly there are upstanding authorities within the ranks of the government who loathe corruption, work hard to aance the interests of the nation and the public, empathize with trials and tribulations their fellow citizens are going through, and do whatever is within their power to address the grievances expressed by the public.

Unfortunately these are being outnumbered by crooked officials who disenfranchise the public, rob the nation of the invaluable services of professionals and other citizens by intimidating them or driving them abroad, foment hatred instead of preaching love, and actively engage in acts which flout the rule of law. To make matters worse they cover up the true state of things through patently false reports and derail the positive course charted by dedicated leaders. And in a twisted paradox they rush to take the limelight that citizens who lose sleep over how their compatriots can be extricated from the clutches of poverty deserve and they certainly do not.

It’s high time that government officials who, by disregarding the grave responsibilities entrusted to them, illegally amass wealth are brought to heel. How long should a few corrupt, self-serving and narrow-minded individuals and groups be tolerated to abuse their power, to bleed the country dry, and to have the ascendancy over honest and hard-working Ethiopians?

While we honor citizens who served their country with distinction and can be held up as role models, we must condemn those who are bent on promoting their selfish interest at the expense of the interests of the nation and the public. We need to guard against the achievement of upstanding citizens from being soiled by the actions of the corrupt and small-minded.

Source : The Reporter

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