December 9th was International Anti-Corruption Day. The annually observed event came into being after the United Nations Convention Against Corruption was passed in 2003 and raises awareness of the need to combat corruption on a global scale.
“With so many other days now reserved for special causes, it’s easy to let this one go by unnoticed,” says Shahied Daniels, Chief Executive at the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA). “We encourage all members of the public, especially professional accountants, to recognise the need to quell misconduct at every level of society.”
What is corruption?
Corruption is a two-way street, comprising the party that corrupts and the party that becomes corrupted. Both are in the wrong.
The corrupter uses various approaches to influence the latter to act in a manner contrary to accepted laws, policies, rules and regulations, in order to achieve some selfish end. These inducements can include abuse of their authority to command the target to submit, bribery to reward them for their compliance, or intimidation that causes them to fear for their livelihood or even their lives if they do not comply. Sometimes, the target may be a willing accomplice, believing their act will assure their standing with the corruptor.
“In fact, corruptors are nothing more than common cheaters, who believe they can get away with stealing more than their fair share by defrauding the rest of us,” says Daniels.
December 9th should be used to build awareness of the effects of corruption. Daniels says anti-corruption organisations and concerned parties, including SAIPA’s own members, must especially take the opportunity to promote how to report corruption and to whom.
Every organisation must also have systems in place for anonymously providing tips but, if those are ineffective, informants should be aware of alternative, independent channels to use. SAIPA is a founding member of the Anti-Intimidation and Ethical Practices Forum (AEPF) and can provide guidance to informants or targets of corruption who are under threat.
Becoming an active combatant
“If we use this one day to rally support but do nothing more afterwards, we’ve achieved very little,” warns Daniels. He urges anti-corruption supporters to take what they learn from the essence of this day and intentionally apply it throughout the coming year.
“As a Professional Accounting Organisation (PAO), we have strong investigatory, legal and disciplinary structures in place to deal with misconduct,” says Daniels. SAIPA members are also required to sign an annual Code of Conduct and Ethical Pledge to preserve their good standing with the Institute. This ensures they remain conscious of their responsibility to act as good citizens within the Profession.
We all need to do our part
Being one of the country’s leading professional accounting organisations and an active leader in the war on corruption, SAIPA calls on the South African public to work with it to make lasting change.
“From state capture to petty fraud, we can make a difference if we all do our part,” concludes Daniels.
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