It’s business as usual for the corrupt – despite all the lip service

Issued by Transparency Vanuatu (Currently Suspended)



It has become virtually impossible to pick up a newspaper in Vanuatu without reading some form of headline highlighting alleged corruption by government leaders or officials.

In recent issues of the Vanuatu newspapers, articles have reported about:

Such is the avalanche of corruption allegations that the National Council of Chiefs has called on the Vanuatu Government to weed out corruption within its ranks, as Chairman Chef Seni Mao Tiruspe stated “people are not happy with what they hear about corruption and the leaders today. This a wakeup call for the Government to pull up its socks if it is serious about its determination to weed out corruption”.

He called on the Prime Minister, Government Ministers, Directors and public servants to carry out their duties to Government not for personal gain but for the best interests of the country.

VANGO has also recently started an initiative to fight corruption with civil society and, as reported in the Daily Post front page on Wednesday this week, the Opposition bloc has spoken directly with the Prime Minister to cooperate in stopping alleged corrupt practices within Government.

Despite years of public statements by government leaders committing to fight corruption, little or nothing is has ever been done to investigate and dismiss or convict wrongdoers. This perpetual official indifference to the cancer of corruption has diminished the reputation of successive Governments and individual leaders, and shows no signs of changing.

For more than 12 years since being established as a local NGO, Transparency Vanuatu (one of more than 80 Transparency chapters worldwide) has been exposing allegations of corrupt practices and calling for official action against corruption, but the sad reality is that little or nothing has been done by anyone in authority to tackle this burning issue.

The pattern concerning corruption is now well established - something corrupt occurs, the incident is reported in the media, there is an outburst of indignation by journalists and the public in letters to the editors, there is silence and inaction from the Government, and the matter gradually fades into the background.

For many people, it is as if corruption is now so well entrenched in our political culture that there is no realistic way to prevent it occurring, that it is in fact inevitable. All we can do is shrug our collective shoulders and say “i olsem”. Given the lack of action against corruption, that response, and the accompanying despair, is certainly understandable.

Despite the public funds allocated to those in authority charged with “policing” public conduct (ie: the Ombudsman’s office, the Auditor General, the Public Prosecutor, the Police themselves) the sad reality is that corrupt leaders know there is very little risk they will face any consequences other than fleeting embarrassment; they will not be dismissed (they may even be promoted!); their names will not appear in Ombudsman’s reports, they will not be charged and they will not be punished.

This impunity leaves the most corrupt leaders in their posts, continuing to destroy the country from within, eating away at fabric of society, robbing its coffers for personal gain, continuing to diminish the country and the future lives of our young people.

The battle against corruption goes on, it must go on, and it needs everyone to stand and fight against it. Transparency Vanuatu welcomes any individual or organization to join us as a member, to unite with us and help form the strongest possible alliance against corruption. If you are interested, contact the Transparency office on telephone 25715.

Recently formed groups such as Youth Against Corruption highlight the growing disgust and frustration felt by all ages in the country.

The result of the widespread corruption in the country, and in particular the lack of any serious action at Government level to fight it, has meant a decline in nearly all Government services, at a time when the population continues to rise rapidly, and the economy has suffered from several successive years of decline since the Global Financial Crisis, with the corresponding decline in Government tax revenue that logically has followed.


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