Separation Of Power And Accountability Critical In Corruption Prevention

Corruption. It’s a term that floats around frequently these days and its nature causes citizens to challenge where their worthy trust is placed. Corruption is the abuse of power, which involves dishonest practices that are undertaken by an authoritative entity, for the desired return of illegal benefit or private gain. There exist many different forms, which can include embezzlement, extortion, bribery, collusion, nepotism and more. Money laundering is almost always inextricably linked with corruption.

The kleptocratic system that exists in South Sudan controls all aspects of the country. The essence of this system lies in the monetisation of government transactions, and importance of having cash continuously provided to the ruler. Elites in these systems are expected to continuously bargain through the means of force as a powerful instrument. Certain members of the executive are also members of the legislature, representing the overlap and connectedness of interests of different arms of power. Corruption within the nation is reflected by the figure of US$36 million being embezzled by South Sudan officials.

The reasons for the occurrence of corruption are vast and depend highly on contextual elements, unique to certain countries, organisations, bodies or corporations. However, two key strategies are critical in the prevention of corruption at a high level. The first is separation of power, and the second is mechanisms to provide for accountability.

The executive, the legislative and the judiciary are the three arms of power. It is through the separation of these arms that the abuse of power, conflicts of interest and prevalence of corruption can be avoided. Separation enhances the validity of mechanisms for accountability and transparency, through power being dispersed across a variety of outlets.  The gap between the government and society also becomes less pronounced with such distinction. Without separation, absolutism is almost always guaranteed.

Promotion of democracy and strengthening of state institutions must be at the forefront for true accountability to ensue. Accountability places an obligation on individuals to act with transparency and respect. It is an anti-corruption tool that is achieved through inclusivity and broader public involvement, thereby setting a standard of what is expected and acceptable. Through a decreased overlap of interests and power over citizens, answerability and liability become very real. The threat of consequence or public shame can encourage elites to conduct themselves in the interest of those they serve.

Easier written than implemented in real life, there must be a break for the good to shine through and prevent the corrupt in their tracks.


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