Fighting corruption

Alaa Thabet
Sunday 29 Sep 2019

The lead taken by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in fighting corruption has been one of the leitmotifs of his presidency, transforming Egypt for the better

The decision to refer a number of presidential and construction company employees to trial is an example of the decisions taken by the political leadership to fight corruption wherever and whoever is responsible. The decision is part of a systematic and comprehensive process to eradicate corruption.
For the past four decades corruption has been digging its roots so deeply in this society to become the mainstream and a major challenge because those involved have created endless circles of protection and a ceiling that one would hardly be able to penetrate. This mafia created a pillar of power of its own that stands still and challenges the government.
When President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi took over, corruption was hindering the process of production and development. A well-designed strong and systematic strata of corrupted fellows pervaded, along with detached administrative and legal advisors that help them evade the law.
As ordinary people felt helpless, bribery and cronyism became part and parcel of our day-to-day life. Circumventing legal procedures and rules spread like social spyware, hardly raising an eyebrow. People felt that fighting corruption is not only "mission impossible," but suicidal because of the protective power attached to the corrupted. Those gangs created the image that whoever dares to stand against them will be the loser. Therefore, more and more people either kept their distance from such gangs, or found their way to join the party of the corrupt, by offering services, looking for a tiny slice of the large cake. The question here is whether to take a share of a decaying edifice that is everyone’s heritage, or work hard to reconstruct this ailing house and protect it from decadence.
Fighting corruption was not an easy task since it had become the mainstream. Recognising the challenge, a well-planned system was put in place by the political leadership. The first phase of this plan targeted minimising the scale of corruption and opening the door to those willing to return to fair rules and make amends by adjusting their status, especially those who laid their hands on the state’s properties. The government showed its willingness that whoever is ready to adjust but cannot return the property should pay for it. The purpose here was to help those who had not yet become an integral part of the corrupted mafia. The target was reforming the behaviour of those who were tempted to make mistakes at a time when it was easy and possible. Reconciliation in such cases is difficult, but beneficial. It is easier to punish than change negative behaviour into a positive attitude that entails good citizenship. Hundreds of cases were closed when trespassers on the state’s properties all over the country made amends and paid the price for the land illegally acquired; thus the gang of the corrupt lost a wide base of people who sided with the government in its long and hard attempt to fight corruption.
Many tend to believe that corruption is limited to bribery, embezzlement or seizure of public monies. But such crimes are like the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface, corruption has many complicated facets that developed technologically over the years, and thus became more and more difficult to investigate. Money laundering, tax and customs evasion, and electronic crimes have become more sophisticated processes one could hardly trace.
Therefore, the National Academy to Fight Corruption was established two years ago. The main purpose of this academy is to train cadres capable of tracing such crimes, tightening their grip on the culprits and then referring them to trial. Fighting corruption is not an easy task and should depend on a well-developed administrative system that has also been part of the government plan over the past few years. A modern administrative system, difficult for hackers, designed with precision and efficiency to be more difficult for the corrupt to manipulate.
President El-Sisi has always stressed the need to fight corruption as one of his main goals. He said that he will fight the corrupt wherever they are, and such an attitude gave a boost to government regulators who have been working round the clock investigating and probing government officials as well as members the corrupt mafia to uproot them throughout the country.  
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