Corruption: abuse of entrusted power for private gain
By Denko Maleski
We all know how corrupt affairs in a normal democratic society come to an end: a charge, a verdict, a prison sentence or a fine. But no one knows how corrupt affairs end in a corrupt society. I wrote this when, with published footages about abuse of power by senior state officials, I was asked to predict the course of resolving the scandal. Lucky that, through SJO charges were raised, we did not understand then that the accusations were, in fact, the lightest part of the work. The judicial system, the parliament and other organs of government are yet to show what the society really is like. Now, a few years later, we know a little better what coping with corruption in a corrupt society is like. In one word: hard. The legal state, as well as democracy, cannot be proclaimed, they are conquered by labor and sacrifice, with the will to disentangle those cursed tangled Balkan strings of personal and state interests that begin who knows where and end up who knows where. The brave prosecutors, namely, are only the starting point of a longer judicial and political process.
As citizens, we demand an example of honest behavior at the top of the state, but we are turning the head from corruption in front of our nose, in the environment in which we live or work. Simply, we refuse to personally involve ourselves where we might influence. It is uncomfortable for us to come into conflict with people in the search for truth and honesty. But that combination of corruption from above and that underneath creates a feeling of anger, despondency and despair that there is no salvation. The problem, however, “up” and “down” is the same: irresponsible power that is a consequence of the absence of a democratic control system. It is the disease of our society. The problem is not whether this or that political orientation will win, as young politicians say, using hollow expressions such as: center-left, center-right, conservative, social-democratic or liberal…Hollow, because the basic problem is s whether the power, widespread throughout society, is under control.
American fathers – founders of the Republic, started from the regularity that anyone who has entrusted power to decide on behalf of other people and to have other people’s money at disposal is a potential criminal. About this regularity they built the construction of their constitution in which they foresaw an entire system of control “obstacles and balances”. Their fight against corruption is based on this, as abuse of entrusted power for private gain. While we do not absolve this basic lesson of democracy, control through accountability, the politicians will continue to “throw dust in people’s eyes” with expressions that have no meaning for them. Namely, parties should first reach a consensus on these democratic values and establish a common system of accountability, control and responsibility, which will apply independently of party affiliation. Only in such leveled ground for political competition, parties can fight battles in the interests of the citizens and be called by their names.
The feeling of living in one of the most corrupt European countries is terrible and everyone has their own story about the pernicious effects of corruption on his life. I have written a lot about my education and my Faculty of Law. The other day I received another confirmation that it is not different in sports. The young man, a coach of a group of young people, introduced himself as a former representation footballer of Macedonia. He has played abroad so financially he is fine. He is a coach now. He asked me to explain how decisions were made in high politics and why good proposals did not pass. A quick course followed a realistic policy. A quick realistic policy course followed. The politician, I tell him, is upright before a “conflict of interest”: on the one hand is the personal interest to survive and advance in the structures of government, on the other hand, to take care of the interests of the people who elected him. The personal structure that is established around a power center is people with their own interests, I tell him. These interests, very often, have a decisive influence on the decisions that are being made. If there is no system of accountability, if you do not know who is accountable to who, you have a fertile soil for corruption. But not everything is in the system. People’s virtue is also very important, because no matter what controls of power you establish, the absence of virtuous people is not compensated by anything. On the other hand, only virtue does not help because power tends to corrupt the honest ones, too. It is complicated, we both conclude.
My interlocutor tells me that all the things I say about high politics as structures of power and interests reminds him a lot of the Football Federation of Macedonia whose policy he disagrees with and with whose representatives he leads a verbal battle. He says that the interest of the group for personal gain impedes the development of football in Macedonia. What gain, I am asking. He gave the fact that ten millions of Euros had been given to our football federation from FIFA for football development. Sufficient reason for corruption in terms of uncontrolled power, I thought. It was followed by an explanation of how money was corruptively spent, which I do not have to repeat because it is so familiar…
So, “up” is the same as “down” he is asking rhetorically. Wherever there is abuse of entrusted power for private gain, it is same, I tell him. His training and my jogging continued.
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