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Opinion | Feb 13, 2018

Your A B C & 1 2 3 Of Political Economy By Sarjo Bayang Part 6: Those in Politics for Economic Reasons

By Sarjo Bayang
The Author
The Author

Without needing to doubt, we all know that some of those who step forward to lead us in the political arena are there mostly for personal economic motives. Only a small number of them have better reasons beyond selfish possessive desires.

Voting for someone to occupy public position on political grounds grants them the mandate to keep custody and decide about what belongs to everyone. Some politicians are seen to be honest while others earn the ugly image of playing deception and lip service promising what they know is beyond their capacity or willingness to deliver.

Accountability beyond figures
Apart from the obligation to render clean financial statement for money entrusted to them as custodian(s) of public resources, politicians are accountable for their promises.

When seeking public office through the political platform, there is so much promise some of which may not be sincere.

Wanting public office through politics is another way of job hunting without the occasion of facing any interview panel. It is tricky business that when looking for normal jobs candidates are subjected to vigorous interview with very hard questions. In contrast those seeking to be given custody of entire public resources enjoy relatively easy ride at point of entry; facing lesser challenge.

Politicians promise doing what is beyond their ability knowing fully there is no worse punishment than denying them votes when people get fed up.

The wider public lacking proper instruments to hold politicians accountable is one broad avenue of escape for custodians of our laws and resources to enjoy their loot.

Looting the public is not just by way of getting rich quick through politics. Failing to deliver promises is another way of squandering vital shared time and resources. Stealing time from the wider public is very high cost that needs to be accounted.

Next time someone steps on that political podium to give the usual soul soothing promise of bringing development, their menu of engagement needs to be a balanced diet. It is not enough to say that the person seeking political office has high profile from whatever experience and possession. They need to answer pertinent questions.

Beyond words and neatly plotted figures, politicians are required to be accountable. Politics is not just another occasion for fantasised soul soothing promises and wild jokes. At both end of the bargain for position and responsibility, commitment to words cannot be compromised without consequences.

Politics as usual goes by the occasion where promises are made without commitment. Public resources are placed at disposal of the post holder with unrestricted access and no public scrutiny.

By the confidence of having economic security over a period once they win elections, some politicians simply don’t bother any longer. Having custody over all public resources with mandate to make key decisions, only those honest enough strive to meet their commitments without needing any reminder. At all times, those in custody of shared resources have all obligations to be accountable especially when they made the social contract through political high office.

To provide that high public office with all the free meals and fleet of transports is big gain for those in political position. Good question is whether they are meeting their end of the bargain. If someone or group of persons are given all good facilities to serve the public, utmost commitment is much required on their part.

Public office holders including presidents and ministers are given free economic benefit by the people. For that reason, they must have the interest of people first. Often that is not what happens. Instead those in public office use it for personal economic gains at high cost to everyone else.

Personalising the institution or institutionalising the personality

Temptation to corruption comes about when public office holders personalise the office. In worse situations, it leads to dictatorship of highest order particularly when extremely selfish persons become president.

Least selfish persons when they become president or minister of state, they respect boundaries to some extent. They are aware about difference between personal possession and public ownership.

Presidents or leaders of state who personalise their position often become corrupt in the process. The wrong perception that what belongs to the office is personal to them tempts such public office holders to excess misuse or rather abuse their position.

Not only presidents and political office bearers institutionalise their personality. This is much common with organisations within public and private sector even in developed nations. It is a human condition that can be cured if given timely remedial intervention.

When gifts are offered to the office you occupy that is different from when your friends load the cupboard with birthday presents. What is provided for the office can only be utilised judiciously with control system of dispensation. In your capacity as leader or holder of top office, much caution is needed with use of resources, funds, and facilities.

Custodians of public finance and resources not to abuse

Occupation of high office goes with the authority in presiding over resources. The challenge rises to higher pitch when it comes to resisting any temptation where you take more for yourself disproportionately.

Holders of top political office may not have their own hands that meddle with public resources openly. What they have though is a syndicate of back door dealers who operate with invisible hands. Business people often employ tactical alliance with politicians in what is considered corrupt dealings.

During political campaigns, business people perform the under hand economic power base that prospective occupiers vying for the top seat bank on. They are not merely super rich to dish so much raw cash for nothing. They become financial patrons expecting compensation.

Once their candidate settles in high office, those business people who funded the elections remain patrons. They win bids and provide supplies to the establishment. Whatever they spent during campaign period trickles down their business through various pipe lines of economic linkages. The economy is instrumental to politics. Business people perform the role of key economic stakeholders.

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