Because political leaders control the levers of development needed for change and transformation, political commitment is imperative for change.
As citizen activism translates into institutionalised support for intolerance toward corruption, a critical mass could develop into a national consensus for transformation.
When such critical mass of voters put pressure on government to transform, political parties will realise that they could lose voters' support if they do not comply. Political incentives (voters support) must exist before governments transform.
Frying the big fish
Once political commitment exists, one of the most effective leverage points is to “fry the big fish” (Klitgaard). Some examples include President Andrés Pastrana's actions against corrupt mayors and governors in Colombia; in Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Corruption Eradication Commission successfully prosecuted many public servants, some of them extremely senior, as well as business people giving bribes; and President Enrique Bolaños of Nicaragua locked up the former President Arturo Alemán, under who Bolaños had served as Vice President, on charges of corruption (Klitgaard). The first big fish “to be fried” should preferably come from the political party in power. In Hong Kong's turnaround strategy, an ex-police commissioner was extradited from England and “fried” in Hong Kong, sending out a clear message that a change is taking place and that no-one is above the law.
“Frying big fish” causes scandals. Such scandals can trigger transformation.
The authority to “fry the big fish” can be given to an anti-corruption agency provided that such an institution has the political clout, support and credibility - unlike our Anti-Corruption Commission.
To date, no minister, deputy minister, permanent secretary, deputy permanent secretary, under secretary, director or deputy director (with the exception of one director and deputy director), or board member within the public service or at public enterprises (with the exception of a Chief Executive Officer of the NBC) has been “fried” in Namibia, sending out a clear message that “big fish” are untouchable and that it “pays to be corrupt”.
Few namibian examples
The “worst” that happened in Namibia was that CEOs were suspended.
Eventually these suspensions ended with a “golden handshake”.
Effectively it meant a highly paid holiday for their remaining contract period while they look for even bigger opportunities of “tenderpreneurship”.
The “big fish” to be fried should include cabinet members. Reports of the more than ten presidential commissions of inquiry into corruption should be made public so that the knot of mutual-serving behaviour can be disentangled in public.
All three presidents of Namibia have party-leaders to protect, all allegedly tied up directly and/or indirectly in the knot of systemic corruption. Once the “big fish” are fried, it will send a clear message of transformation and stimulate a more open and transparent culture in which information will be disseminated with fewer restrictions. Based on the best practice experiences of Singapore and Hong Kong (both mid 19th century), and the United States of America and United Kingdom (early 18th century, beginning 19th century), we will have to wait for decades before the public could be educated as such that the majority of voters would support transformation of our public and private sectors and political motivation would exist for executing such transformation. Political motivation for any transformation is critical.
Klitgaard, R. 2010. Addressing Corruption in Haiti.[email protected]