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National Unity Government and the Struggle against Corruption

Published Date: July 14, 2018

 

A new inspection body became established as a result of a decree by President Ashraf Ghani for the purpose of making more effective struggle against corruption and inspecting the activities of senior governmental officials. The inspection body, however, is being established while there are many other institutions on tackling corruption including Supreme Audit Office (SAO), and thus, the recent action of the government was accompanied by different reactions.   

Looking at recent struggles against corruption, former Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology, Abdul Razaq Wahidi was tried at bar being accused for embezzlement and corruption; and it is for the first time that a senior minister-level official is tried for corruption allegations.          

The efforts of National Unity Government (NUG) are come to ground while a spokesperson of Presidential Palace (ARG), Shah Hussain Murtazawi, on Tuesday (July 10, 2018) admitted that 700 Million USD is defalcated in the Afghan customs and so the government is making effort to increase domestic proceeds through eliminating corruption in the customs.       

Besides NUG’s 3-year tireless efforts against it, corruption is still considered as a big challenge for Afghanistan and thus, the country is still listed among the world’s corrupt countries. United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has released its report on Afghanistan’s fight against corruption which includes the period between January 2017 and April 2018 where it considered corruption in Afghanistan as massive, inhumane and brazen.      

Here, you will read about the 3-years struggle of NUG against corruption, the failure of government in tackling it and the roots of it in Afghanistan.    

 

Corruption; a Big Challenge to Afghan Governments

Afghanistan is not the only country which is faced the problem of massive corruption; but there are also plenty of modern countries that encounter the challenging problem. Corruption was a big challenge for Afghan government in 13 years of Karzai Administration where is caused the Afghan people to have their rights suppressed, and for the country to be disreputable on international stage.      

With arrival of foreign troops and abundant amount money in Afghanistan, corruption also spread to different sector and as time was passing, it reached the point where various surveys conducted in last 17 years revealed that corruption was one of biggest challenge for Afghan people. We can point of the numerous surveys of Asia Foundation, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and other national and international institutions in this regard.        

As some measures were taken against corruption and a number of institutions and laws were made for this purpose in the Karzai Administration; however, Afghanistan, for several years, has secured its position at top among the world’s most corrupt countries, according to Transparency International. Meanwhile, Afghans were faced massive corruption in the whole mentioned period. According to the surveys of Transparency International, the level of corruption increased from 2005 to 2009; however, its level decreased between 2009 and 2011. Nevertheless, the level of corruption, once again, increased in 2012 and 2013. As a consequence, the problem was, then, inherited by the National Unity Government (NUG).             

 

Efforts of National Unity Government

At the beginning, however, President Ashraf Ghani took harsh position against corruption and reopened the Kabul Bank Case for investigation immediately after he took office; however, the policy of NUG and its 3.5 years of fight against corruption were not fruitful. Lack of coordination between authorities and creating barrier by senior officials were among the problems which has had put shadow on government’s fight against corruption.       

Reopening of Kabul Bank Case in 2014, banning a number of senior officials accused with corruption from travelling abroad and introducing them to the Attorney General Office and establishing National Procurement Authority (NPA) were the efforts which made Afghanistan to secure 4th position instead of 2nd one in the ranking of Transparency International.     

An amount was also received from the borrowers of Kabul Bank in 2015; however, due to the cases of release of an important suspect of the case, Khalilullah Ferozi, and massive internal disputes caused Afghanistan to, once again, secure the rank of second most corrupt country.    

Afghanistan got out from world’s three most corrupt countries and secured 8th position this time due to many reasons; among them are: inauguration of Judicial Anti-Corruption Center, registration of possessions of government authorities, dismissal of 600 judges, 20 attorneys and 25% employees of customs in all over the country, restrained passports of more than hundred senior officials, prevention of embezzlement of 220 Million USD in 1250 contracts and etc.    

The fight against corruption, once again, became affected by political disputes and security instability in 2017; because this year was full of problems and challenges for Afghanistan. For this reason, Afghanistan, over again, became the fourth most corrupt countries in the world.      

 

Numerous Bodies for Tackling Corruption

When we evaluate the anti-corruption efforts of the National Unity Government (NUG), we would conclude the government’s strategy was mainly focused on making anti-corruption bodies, strategies and laws and besides that, on taking practical measures in this regard.

There are more than 10 anti-corruption bodies in the country from which four of them were built during the NUG. Both Jirgas of National Assembly, Judicial Anti-Corruption Center, Supreme Audit Office (SOA), Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption High Council, National Procurement Special Commission, High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption which is recently combined with the Attorney General’s Office, and the body of President’s Special Envoy in Reforms and Good Governance which is removed now.   

Recently, a new body of inspection is established as a result of 9-article decree of President whose working area covers inspecting complaints related to the administrative units of the offices of the President and Chief Executive, heads of independent budget authorities and other senior officials; however, inspecting President’s activities are not included in its working area. The head of the body will be appointed by the President for a term of 4 years that will be responsible to President only.             

A promise of President in the London Conference (2014) was to establish an independent anti-corruption mission with a limited time and executive power. If the recent body is what the president had said, perhaps, it may be proved effective; however, for now, the opposition of the president thinks that the body will be used a political weapon by the President.   

Moreover, existence of numerous anti-corruption bodies is a problem which has put negative shadow on fight against this phenomenon. The large number of them has caused, from one hand, in lack of their empowerment and capacity building and, from the other hand, to blame each other for failure in fight against corruption.      

 

Corruption Centers

In addition to activities of plenty anti-corruption laws and bodies, the level of corruption has not only decreased in the country, but it has increased day by day; and the reason is, the coalition formation of the National Unity Government (NUG), itself where, last year, the President also accused the Chief Executive of supporting corrupt officials.   

There are some bodies where corruption is at the peak and there are also some anti-corruption bodies that have failed the NUG’s fight against corruption; a number of them are as following: 

  • Judicial Organs: Surveys and researches of various domestic and foreign institutions on corruption indicate that courts and attorney general’s office are most corrupt bodies from the perspective of Afghan people. This trend has put very negative shadow on NUG’s fight against corruption.
  • Security Sector: The Interior Ministry was the most corrupt organ in the term of NUG and President Ashraf Ghani, himself, had called the mentioned ministry as “the heart of corruption”. In past years, for example, the most mistrust was in security sector as most people had paid bribes to police, according to 2010 Survey of Integrity Watch Afghanistan.
  • Mines: The Integrity Watch Afghanistan released a report named “The Plunderers of Hope” in 2015 which show massive corruption in this sector. SIGAR also had indicated in its reports of April 2015 and January 2016 that Mafia and Strongmen, Less Observation and Mismanagement are most important factors behind corruption in the mine sector.  
  • Customs: the Customs are turned into corruption centers where ordinary vacancies are sold with high prices and hundreds of millions of dollars are embezzled there every year.
  • National Assembly: National Assembly is responsible to observe the government’s activities; however, this organ not only did not participate in fight against corruption, but it also had massive role in increasing its level. UNAMA in his latest report released two months ago (May 2018) has harshly criticized the National Assembly and has considered as part of the problem of corruption. The National Unity Government (NUG) has been accused of corruption many times before that as well.     

Besides all of them, foreign forces in Afghanistan are also involved in corruption on high level and are still causing in expansion of corruption. The efforts of government are fruitless in fight against corruption when it comes to them as it possesses a weak position in this regard. For many times, head of SIGAR, John Spoko also has confirmed involvement of Americans in corruption.       

End

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