Columnists

Corruption ends where integrity begins

KELVIN Siwale.

Analysis: KELVIN SIWALE
CAN corruption end? The answer is ‘YES’ but only if we all decide to stop it now. Anything that is man-made can likewise be man-ended. Just as corruption begins with an individual so it can end with the same individual making a choice to be corrupt free.

Corruption will never cross the line of Integrity, it stops right there.
Integrity is a matter of choice, each one decides whether to live a life of integrity or a compromised one. It is a pity that nowadays someone who decides to live a life of integrity is seen to be abnormal because they cannot employ their relatives, they cannot steal public/company funds like their counterparts and acquire those expensive automobiles and mansions.
Leading a life of Integrity, indeed comes with a price to pay, your own family members may hate you because you are determined to do the right things in public interest. Further, men and women of integrity normally attract few friends, probably because integrity is a rare commodity, and we all know that like attracts like.
Now integrity entails being able to stand for what is right regardless of the consequences. It means being ethical in all our dealings. Integrity is a continuous process, it is not a one off activity or a virtue we are born with but one that is learnt and grown over time. In view of this, no one can say they are naturally corrupt, so they cannot do anything about it. Integrity is a virtue that we all need to embrace, the very first step is to decide to lead a life of integrity, then you begin to nurture it step by step.
Integrity grows as we’re exposed to good values, just like a tree that draws the right nutrients from the ground will stand out in the forest and bear good fruits. Therefore, Integrity is about the choices that we make as individuals. If you are comfortable doing wrong activities such as theft of public or private funds, then you have serious integrity issues, your conscience has died and you need redemption. If this describes your position, not all hope is lost just make up your mind to lead a life of integrity, strive to avoid performing acts that are ultravires. Are your actions and decisions something you would not mind showing on the public big screen? If you would mind then something is wrong and it is high time you stopped engaging in activities that fall short of integrity and are parallel to the provisions of the laws and regulations.
Some officers cannot go on leave not because they are hardworking but because they have a lot of dirty under their carpets to protect. Further, they have a lot of clinched corrupt deals which pour in moneys every day and so being away would mean loss of income, imagine somebody reporting for work even when they are unwell. Such behaviour is actually one of the red flags to corrupt behaviour.
A philosopher by the name of Albert Camus says; “integrity has no need for rules”. This is very true and means that if we all embrace integrity, we will do the right things without being compelled by the law. Integrity is an internal gauge that tells one their rights and limits. Integrity will tell someone that if something is not theirs they should not get it. Therefore, with no doubt, it can be concluded that corruption ends where Integrity begins. If all would begin to cultivate Integrity and bear fruits thereof, then there would be no room for corruption. Corruption is tormenting us because of lack of integrity in our dealings. We need to work hard to develop a robust national Integrity system so that Integrity can be cultivated in all corners of society, children need to grow in the right environment, and new employees need to find the right environment in their work places.
As discussed in one of the issues on this platform, entitled “A Corruption free Zambia begins with me”, leaders should always lead by example in issues of integrity. As a chief executive officer (CEOs), what message does your conduct send to your followers? Leaders are duty bound to transform your organisations into beacons of integrity by exhibiting high levels of integrity and punishing any corrupt behaviour. How can you remove a speck from your friend’s eye if you have a log in yours?
If we can build integrity, corruption will be the talk of the past. Therefore, Integrity Committees, should be supported by all well-meaning CEOs so that we can put in place Integrity Infrastructure in all private and public organisations. We conclude by saying the organisational or societal environment matters most in Integrity building.
The author is an anti-corruption activist.


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