Weed Out Corrupt Cops Now! [opinion]

THE Longman dictionary of contemporary English defines corruption as the dishonest, illegal or immoral behaviour, especially from someone with power.

Yet when we go deeper in the quest for who are actually involved in the commission of this widely accepted bad practice, we find that it exists not only among those in the corridors of power but also the powerless.

People with little or no influence at all in society have very often been cited as being among the corrupt not because they initiate the corrupt act but simply because they accept to be corrupted.

This usually happens when one commits an offence and does not want the law to take its course.

Fearing heavy penalties, such people accept to give law-enforcement officers less than what is stipulated for which offences committed so that they can be let off the hook.

This, for instance, happens at roadblocks mounted by traffic police officers.

There is even one joke doing the rounds that whenever some police officers are broke, they put up road blocks at selected points so that they can get un-receipted money from road traffic offenders.

One survey conducted recently by Transparency International Zambia found that the Zambia Police Service was the most corrupt Government department in the country, and no one has since come forward with figures to counter this argument.

One unjustified reason given as to why some police officers take bribes is the low salaries they get which they say do not see them to the next pay day.

Yet these are not the only ones who are reportedly lowly-paid.

In fact by virtue of their employment, as Government workers, they are actually in a much more better position than many salaried workers.

This then boils down to the issue of ethics among these men and women in uniform viz-a-viz corruption.

Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) defines corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. And this, according to TIZ, hurts most those people who depend on the integrity of individuals in a position of authority.

In the case of Zambia, or any other country for that matter, it is development that suffers most from the commission of any corrupt act, no matter who is involved and at what level in society.

This is because any amount of money given to a police officer by an erring individual for whatever offence was in the first place supposed to go to the national treasury, or into the coffers of the local authority in case of by-laws.

This money is in turn supposed to be used on projects meant to benefit all Zambians or one community, respectively. This then means that giving or accepting a bribe in the long run deprives the nation of the much-needed revenue which would otherwise go a long way in developing the country.

Conversely, any corrupt act only benefits those individuals perpetrating it. These are the people commonly referred to as greedy persons who are a danger to the core values of society.

It must be noted that police officers largely depend on the general citizenry in providing services in a country like Zambia which is desperate to build a democratic, prosperous and corruption-free society.

For this reason, Home Affairs Deputy Minister Stephen Kampyongo is right to call on the Police Service to weed out corrupt police officers who are denting the image of the service and frustrating the Government’s efforts to fight the vice.

We are also of the view that the Police Service that periodically conducts recruitment exercises must be under strict instructions to avoid hiring candidates who may have low ethical standards so that the department’s integrity cannot be compromised further.

To identify these candidates may of course prove to be a major challenge.

However, as is the case with fighting corruption, police even here need the cooperation of citizens to identify good people and avoid ‘bad eggs’ to serve in the Police Service. Otherwise it will be difficult to root out of the Police Service corruption which clearly serves to undermine the overall legitimacy of law-enforcement.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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