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Saturday, 20 March 2010

Corruption experiences..

David Bramlett (Jubilee Centre, Ndola) has a wonderful blog on his recent experience with corruption in Zambia, after being stopped by a police officer on the road :

While paying my ticket (you have to pay on the spot), the lady told us that we could pay half the amount of the ticket, but that we would not get a receipt. That means the money would go into her pocket, and that there would be no record of my wrong. It was very tempting to just pay her the money and move on. The way they said it made bribery feel innocent and harmless. I internally debated what to do for about a minute. I finally decided to pay the full amount for two reasons. First, I knew that it was the right thing to do. I could not contribute to a corrupt society. I wish this was the main reason that I paid the full amount, but it was not. The main reason was that I would much rather have more of my money go to the Zambian government than some of my money to a corrupt policewoman. If she had been nice to me, maybe I would have decided to pay her the pocket money.
I find  David's main reason interesting because it assumes that there's no corruption down the command chain. In short there's no guarantee that money was really going anywhere other than in the pocket of the lady officer's superior! We might even extrapolate that the fact that the lady was able to ask for the bribe was because the commanding officers are comfortable with corruption. I recall doing the same journey as David. My wife and I had "hired" a taxi from Lusaka to drive us to Ndola and back. The driver had forgotten to get some sort of permit that allowed taxis to drive outside Lusaka. On our way to Ndola, we were stopped by some police officers. The officer tried to persuade the driver that if he did not "drop something" to him, his superior would demand a greater "price".

1 comment:

  1. what's interesting too is the psychological effect this had on the recipient; a decrease in respect for the law.
    I have to add however, why is it always the cliched traffic cop scenario which comes up in corruption debates? I was stopped on every journey in Zambia over a 2year period,basically by traffic cops who pointed out the unsafe status of our buses ( bald tyres and smashed windeshields )and extracted a payment from the driver. Okay, police abusing their position is bad, and the fines are not going to the State like they should. However isn't corruption where public funds are stolen from schools and hospitals far worse and detrimental to development ? Why does this recieve far less coverage ? Is it merely because it less well known, and visitors are far more likely to experience traffic police corruption ?

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