Monday, February 14, 2011
By The Post
Mon 14 Feb. 2011, 04:00 CAT
Hosni Mubarak has been consumed by his own corruption. The man who over the last three decades appeared to be all powerful and in command of a powerful army and police force left like a thief in the night, without even having the courage to directly communicate with his people and say ‘I am off’.
The man who thought he owned Egypt and its people was over a period of 18 days reduced to nothing. This is the usual ending for corrupt people, for politicians who get intoxicated with power. It is said that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Truly, absolute power had corrupted Mubarak absolutely.
Mubarak had all the glory he needed, more money than he needed. But of what value is all that to him today?
And as Jose’ Marti once remarked, “all the glory in the world fits in a kernel of corn”.
Mubarak and his family are believed to be worth US $70 billion. Where did they get all that money?
How was this possible in a country suffering from such high levels of unemployment and many other economic and social problems?
How did they manage to amass such wealth in a country that is said to be broke and that still receives aid from the United States?
There can be only one explanation for this: Egyptian public funds were stolen by Mubarak and his family.
With the absolute power Mubarak had, he and his family could do anything and get away with it – of course not forever.
And the true disgrace of Egypt lies in the corruption Mubarak had introduced and entrenched in that nation; it is in the corruption that has become imbedded in a society where the idea of service – health, education, genuine security for ordinary people – had simply ceased to exist.
Mubarak created in Egypt a society where the first duty of the police was to protect his regime, where protesters were beaten up by the security police, where young women objecting to Mubarak’s endless regime were sexually molested by plainclothes agents.
Mubarak developed in Egypt a kind of religious façade in which the meaning of Islam had become effaced by its physical representation.
Under Mubarak, Egyptian civil servants and government officials were often scrupulous in their religious observances – yet they tolerated and connived in rigging elections, in violating the law and in torturing prisoners.
And amid all this, Egyptians had to live amid daily slaughter by their own shabby infrastructure. It gets dark sometimes, but the morning comes. The people of Egypt didn’t surrender to Mubarak’s corruption and tyranny.
They suffered and resisted for many years. And suffering breeds strength and character.
Character breeds faith.
In the end, their faith triumphed. But who ever thought the people of Egypt would get rid of Mubarak so easily!
It wasn’t easy. And we shouldn’t just focus on the last 18 days of Mubarak’s reign.
This was a long struggle spanning more than two decades by people who could not surrender and who were not worried about whether they would get there or not.
They were confident that whichever way, Egypt would get better one day. They kept hope alive and their faith did not disappoint them. Mubarak’s rule that appeared to have been cast in stone melted like wax on fire.
We can only hope our people and our political leaders have learnt something or are learning something from all this.
No one has the capacity to abuse a people that is prepared to say no and stand their ground.
It is said that a lion respects the brave – those who are in harmony with themselves may meet a lion without fear, because he respects anyone with self-confidence.
We started by saying Mubarak has been consumed by his own corruption.
By corruption, we are not only talking about the billions of dollars he has stolen from the Egyptian people, but also about the abuse of power, of public office, arrogance and lack of humility.
All these constitute corruption.
We see this every day in our country.
Some people begin to change, to be deformed, as soon as they have a little responsibility – a little, not much, power – and we think that the more power people have, the greater the risk; that’s a fact.
We think it requires being aware of the danger and ever alert, ever vigilant against it.
Truly, power does corrupt – let’s call it power, but we could just as well say having important posts, important functions, important responsibilities, which is what is usually called power.
But if you are honest, truly honest, you won’t be corrupted. If you are unassuming and have a clear understanding of the worth of people and of yourself, you won’t be corrupted.
There is need to maintain eternal vigilance about this throughout one’s life and be very self-critical, always examining everything you do, checking to see whether it is correct or not, whether or not you have let yourself be carried away, whether or not pride has anything to do with your decisions or actions.
The bells tolling for Mubarak today may tomorrow toll for some of our leaders if they don’t change their ways and start living and working in an honest way, in a selfless way.
Corruption in Zambia has reached alarming proportions.
And the harm being done to our people due to corruption cannot be measured in monetary terms alone.
We say this because corruption is destroying the moral fibre of our nation, especially when it takes place among government officials and even the forces of public order.
Our state institutions are today reeking with corruption in every pore. And there is no state institution that is not affected by corruption in our country today.
This regime of Rupiah Banda is making things worse because it’s combining its own corruption with that of Frederick Chiluba; it is defending every corrupt deed of Chiluba and his tandem of thieves.
The corruption of Chiluba and that of Rupiah’s regime has been joined in some form of evil matrimony and the two have become one and inseparable.
Chiluba thought he would get away with the corruption of his regime. He didn’t.
He was arrested and prosecuted just to be rescued by another corrupt regime. It’s really a question of a bandit rescuing another bandit in trouble.
But in the end, both will be arrested, prosecuted and convicted. This game will not go on forever.
They are simply cheating themselves.
Mubarak thought he would get away with it; he didn’t, and neither will they.
It seems clear that our people are not yet satisfied that this government has taken the necessary steps to end corruption in its ranks.
Stronger leadership at the highest levels needs to be shown to build up public confidence and to set examples and standards of honesty and selflessness.
A start must be made to share the goods of this country more equitably and fairly among all our people. If people have to be hungry, let us be hungry together.
To avoid what has taken place in Egypt would require a search for viable means to end corruption in our country, bearing in mind that the sources of corruption are both structural and personal.
We have to teach ourselves and others the importance of incorruptibility as part of the essence of self-respect.
While there is nothing wrong in appreciating opportunities to live well, to enjoy the good life, no one should be allowed to use his position to get himself, his family or friends anything that isn’t his due.
This was the essence of the law Rupiah and his servant George Kunda repealed – the law against the abuse of office. In doing so, they have institutionalised corruption.
This is what they wanted; it was not an oversight – they knew very well what they were doing and why they were doing it.
Again, time will tell, time alone will tell.