St Louis Gate: Can we still call it Corruption?

26 juin 2020, 07:25


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Lawlessness, beyond corruption. There is reason for concern in our society. Not so much for the state of corruption itself but for the sense of lawlessness that is gaining ground at the highest level of the political class. Acts of corruption look the same in their essence, at least society views them as equally morally reprehensible and deserving equal treatment under the law. However, there are acts of fraud that fall outside the control of the official justice system, and where the culprits are not governed by the normal law to which all citizens of the country are subjected. It’s a matter of concern, as it is dangerous for a society to exclude a group of people outside the ambit of its normal law, the criminal code, the POCA and all national legislation, enforced in our criminal justice system. Lawlessness, secretive or open, is recipe for disintegration of societies.

The string of frauds that has marred our society over the years and which is pursuing its course, confirming the persistency of a trend, requires that acts of corruption are not to be construed as constituting a monolithic bloc. Distinctions are usually made on the basis of factors as complexity amounts involved, territorial localisation among others. But focus needs be laid on the status of the perpetrators, because depending on whether the fraudster is related to politics or not, does really matter, and makes a huge difference on several fronts.

When it comes to politics and politicians, the term corruption is hardly adequate, it has limitations. It is a gross underestimate of the dangers that a society face in its very existence. The term lawlessness, so this paper argues, is more appropriate, as to qualify the scourge facing the country. And activists for a morally sound society should, as the leitmotiv of their struggle, seriously consider attacking lawlessness, the territory where the normal law does not apply, and where acts of corruption of political origin enjoy a special regime, go unpunished, with no sanctions as those imposed by the state justice system.

Just as in secretive societies, lawlessness does not mean a total absence of law. If there is defiance of the normal law, and that there is no police, no ICAC, no court of law to challenge the conduct of politics-related fraudsters, this does not exclude the existence of an inbuilt mechanism within the political party, for checking on the conduct culprits. And acts contrary to the law of the country become governed by rules that apply to relationships within the group that holds power.

politicians, a distinction needs to be made between a reprehensible act which is unknown to the public, but of which the party is aware on the one hand, and those acts that become known and which are exposed in the local media. In the first case, no information will go public, only some persons very close to the leaders in the political hierarchy will be made aware. This does not mean there will be no sanction. The culprit, depending on his or her contribution to the party will be sidelined, and will have no ticket at the next election. At the core of the judgment is the question: what did the party get out of the fraudulent act committed by its member. Also to be taken into consideration, the political weight of the fraudster. The more electorally important a member is, in terms of ensuring greater political support for the party, the lighter the sanction will be. A simple reprimand accompanied by an advice to take precaution may suffice.

The reaction of the party once the act comes to public knowledge, depends on certain variables. It may consist of a total and almost aggressive defence of the culprit or it can be a lip service support by the group. Corrupt politicians can therefore be either ‘let down’ or saved.

The act will go unpunished if it was done to the knowledge or with the consent of the leaders or if made for the benefit of the group, as when the funds so collected are to be eventually injected to support the activities of the party. Alternatively, if the public opinion pressure is too strong, and cannot be brushed aside, there will normally be a lot of dilly dallying in place: an internal inquiry, a commission of inquiry, to be followed by a committee to study its recommendations, and then the case would go to court, we are talking of a 15 years span of time, before the judgment.

It is dangerous for a society to have a parallel system of justice, it signals the end of the rule of law, it opens the door to anarchy and the rule of force. It announces the beginning of a state where people takes justice in their own hands, and clans and cliques compete for power: the state criminal justice system becomes an empty shell. Justice becomes a sham. The country disintegrates. 

It all started with politics experimenting with lawlessness.