Jackie Wilson Asheeke

SMS pages, letters to the editor and social media conversations give great insight into public points of view. Through these avenues, I have seen an alarming misuse of word ‘corruption.’ When people label everything as ‘corrupt’, it is like crying wolf. After a while, no one listens to the cry of alarm anymore – that powerful word loses value and impact.

Look at how people have killed the impact of the terms ‘terrorist’ or ‘fake news.’ These loaded words had solid meanings once upon a time. But, now, they have been co-opted by people on the left or right with political agendas. The term ‘corrupt’ is moving in that direction.

There was an SMS written where the person is angry because a civil servant has a second job whereas they have no job. They deem this as ‘corruption’.

It is NOT corruption. Bravo to the work ethic, luck and tenacity of the person who is working their butt off to do a second gig to try to live their best life.

To the person upset with having no job, join 40 percent of your fellow Namibians who also have no jobs. There will be thousands more joining the ranks of the unemployed due to Covid-19 fallout. Unemployment is a major problem and not a new one. Namibia was facing severe unemployment numbers before the pandemic hit. Rather than expressing jealousy and calling it ‘corruption’, look to your own situation on its own merits.

How can an unemployed hotel worker (for example) be upset at a teacher who runs a hair salon in her house on the weekends? What has the second hair braiding job have to do with no tourists coming into the country that has caused empty hotels? There is no corruption in this scenario at all.

In my view, more people should be looking at a second gig immediately! On a half salary and yet doing the same or more work, how do you make up that gap? If you are retrenched, having that second flow of income could buy bread for a while longer.

I often read or hear people saying that someone from another area (meaning another ethnic group) came to ‘their area’ and applied and earned a job offer. Local people gnash their teeth over this. They call it ‘corruption.’ There is nothing inherently corrupt about anyone who meets the criteria applying, interviewing and winning a job. If there is evidence of nepotism; or if a person that does not fit the criteria his hired, then complaints must be made, through the available avenues.

Most of those complaining in situations like this, are upset that THEY (or their loved ones) did not get the job. They throw the term ‘corruption’ out there just to express their jealousy and frustration.

That kind of self-centered action abuses the word, ‘corruption.’ People think: if I benefit from something then it is ‘good.’ If I don’t benefit from it, then it is ‘corrupt.’

It seems to me that the same people overusing the word ‘corruption’ are quite content to benefit from it. They accept ‘gifts’ from their unemployed husbands, sons and nephews without asking a single question about where these items (or cash) come from. They are part of the problem causing so many street robberies, store break-ins, shop-lifting and burglaries. They happily take whatever comes their way and complain about other people being corrupt. Their integrity is corrupted and they don’t see that.

A person working in a finance office that diverts money into their own personal accounts instead of the company or government account is not corrupt. They are a regular, ordinary thief. That is not a job for the uninspiring and grossly underfunded ACC. This is a straight-up criminal case for the cops.

People see real corruption and say nothing. It is ‘someone else’s’ job to report it, collect evidence and testify. That is where people have it wrong. It is everyone’s job to report wrong-doing using verifiable facts. We all must strive to collect evidence and documents. Each one of us that witnesses wrong-doing must blow the whistle. We all have phones. Let us film, tape, and photograph crimes and then stand up in court and testify to help obtain a conviction.

Those who are not willing to do anything (not just TALK!) to stop real corruption, should at least stop overusing and destroying the word.