Columnists

When trustees can not be trusted

KELVIN Siwale.

Analysis: KELVIN SIWALE
EVERY public officer operates under an entrusted authority, they act on behalf of the public.
All public resources are entrusted to be administered prudently by public officers.
Everyone holding a public or constitutional office is a trustee.
They are expected to serve their principals who are members of the public diligently and with accountability.
Politicians are elected to represent their electorate.
This is the core purpose of their election to public office not to draw allowances or to have access to some public deals.
A time comes when trustees betray their people and forget why they are holding the public offices.
All public officers in whatever category, whether elected or hired, are in office to serve the public, they are servants.
A servant can never be greater than their leader, whatever they do is unto their master. This should never be otherwise. This platform provides a moment of reflection before some of you public officers can forge ahead in your duties. Think about how you have been operating, do you think your master is happy? Are you living up to public expectation? Are you still the same person that your ministry employed, or electorate voted for? Please do not answer these questions hastily, take your time? We want thoughtful answers directed to your conscience. Hopefully, that will bring change in the way you handle that public office.
One of the avenues of a public officers’ betrayal to the public is engaging in corruption and abuse of office? When people get into offices, they develop an insatiable appetite for wealth and end up taking the illegitimate path to acquire it. A person who uses any means possible to gain wealth is dangerous because any means include corruption, theft or even killing. When the public service commission employed you, they were at least 95 percent sure they had got it right and, in most cases, yes, they did. Unfortunately, it looks like some officers or even politicians tend to undergo negative social and moral metamorphosis along the way and begin to pull corrupt surprises which nobody could fathom.
Dear public servants, in whatever circles you may be, put public interest ahead of personal interest. Public transactions are meant to benefit the public not personal endeavours. Let’s learn to live within our means. If you desire what the next person has and it is beyond your reach and you have public resources at your disposal, you end up abusing your office or stealing. Mind you, leaving beyond your past and present emoluments attracts the attention of the anti-corruption eyes, to look at your activities by putting your life on the microscope. This is because it is suspected you could have been abusing your office or you are involved in other illicit activities. We are all urged to never view this process as persecution, everyone must account for their wealth, even if it dropped from the skies or you received miracle money, you must justify. Those who rush to complain against such processes are themselves corrupt or do it without understanding. Failure to account for your accumulated wealth will lead to prosecution and eventual forfeiture of such wealth.
Reasonably, you will not expect a public official who barely works for a few years to amass a lot of wealth when they are not in business or any other legitimate economic ventures. Questions begin to arise; are you a drug lord? Are you a thief? Are you abusing your office? Certainly, at least, one of the three questions has a silent yes, if you cannot account for your amassed wealth. This is the reason why we must insist that all public officers/constitutional office holders declare their assets before assuming office and regularly do so at least once every year and this information should be verified and well documented. If your wealth is legitimate, register all your properties in your names, spouse’s properties in their names. The moment you see someone registering properties in other people’s names then be sure something somewhere is very wrong! All you public officers who have registered your properties in other people’s names, reflect on why you did that, most likely you wanted to conceal that property because you know the source is illicit.
The idea of public officers abusing public funds for personal gain should come to an end. Should a lot of our citizens suffer while a few selfishly enjoy an undeserved luxurious life? No ways!
As we put this subject to rest, public officer, I hope you have not turned into a former trustee. If you can no longer be trusted by your employers who could be government or people, who elected you into office as the case may be, then you need to shake off that demon that is leading you into the ways of corruption and restore the passion to serve with dignity, integrity and accountability. We cannot afford to have trustees who cannot be trusted.
Lastly, whatever has been said here can be summed up as a trustee acts on behalf of people and thus puts people ahead of personal interest. This calls for a lot of discipline.
The author is an anti-corruption specialist.

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