How do we get rid of corruption?

Zdravko Saveski

They have abused power for personal benefit. They thought they would hide it from the public, but they failed. They thought they would go away with empty promises and throw crumbs at citizens. They thought they would continue their old ways. But everything was in vain.

This story of the fall of the previous government also applies to the present government. And in some weird irony of fate, “bomber” Zaev might fall victim to the so-called “bombs” himself. Even more so, he may have destroyed himself with the “bomb” in a statement that contained insults to the LGBT community and journalists. The indications that Boki 13 did not act in isolation, that not only Katica Janeva was involved, but also the SDSM leadership itself- are growing every day. It is increasingly clear that the government will not be able to get out of the mud by sacrificing only smaller fish.

What kind of bad luck do we have for so many corrupt individuals to govern our country for 30 years? Is it so hard to find a normal one?
I don’t think that it is really about luck. A system of corrupt governance, with high resistance to change, has been established. And because of this resistance, only corrupt individuals within corrupt party structures, closely intertwined with the oligarchs, can come to power. It’s up to the system, not the people. That is why people who do not have corrupt affinities cannot come to power. The system prevents them from succeeding and squeezes them out if they do not play by the rules and jeopardize its “normal” functioning.
If we understand that, we will finally be able to make a move forward. And rather than relying on the smiling politicians at the head of clientelist parties over and over again, we will concentrate on changes in the corruption-based system and reproduce it, regardless of replacing one another.
What are the changes that need to be made?

Giving higher salaries to officials so they won’t steal? That is one of the most frequent suggestions. As if the salaries of officials are low! How can officials, besides pay, not enjoy a series of privileges that further increase their income! And in the context of this scandal involving the SPO, the hollowness of this suggestion becomes even more apparent! How high is Katica Janeva’s salary?
To date, the public has not been informed about this. Scandalously, SPO hides the salaries and allowances of its employees! Although they are paid for their work by the citizens, they have the right to know how high the salaries of all officials are. However, Katica Janeva’s salary is very high, certainly much higher than the salary of 99 percent of the citizens. And that has not prevented her from abusing her position for personal benefit.

Maybe the solution is for rich people to be in power? Janeva might have a high salary, but she didn’t have a lot of money before, so her high salary made her even greedier. Therefore, people who have already gained a lot of capital need to be in power. They already have money so they won’t steal. It is tragic how naively people believe in such fairytales! Here’s your Zaev! He is precisely the man who has great capital and is now in power. Does he govern in a non-corrupt way because he has already acquired capital? He is the only politician in Macedonia who is abolished for corruption in the “Global” case. If he was innocent, why didn’t he prove it in court? And why were the proceedings stopped against him in the “Bribery” case? Because he was so evidently innocent?

Regarding the mentality of the capitalists (both in Macedonia and elsewhere), a statement made last year by respected businessman Sashko Stanoevski, a member of the Board of Directors of TTA-Textile Cluster Macedonia, speaks volumes: “You know nothing about the textile industry. When we talk about the problems in the textile industry, we are usually told that we drive Jeeps. What are we supposed to drive, this is the 21st century. Businessmen abroad have their own airplanes! ”No matter how much money they have, they will want to have even more! So the claim that rich people’s wealth is a guarantee of their corruption is just a fairy tale that needs to be urgently dismantled.

Laws should be applied, there should be the rule of law! Of course there should! We constantly hear about this “should”. Why it doesn’t work at all is the real question. So the corruption in Macedonia under capitalism has come to be bigger than it was in socialism! Although we are supposedly devoted to the “rule of law” today, we actually were not even then. Very depressing data for the defenders of capitalism in Macedonia, especially since the standard of living of ordinary people is also pitiful.

Of course, there is no magical solution that will enable us to get rid of corruption today. But that does not mean that nothing should be done. Or that we need to keep standing still, looking for individuals who will behave non-corruptively in a corruption-based system.
The typical liberal discourse on corruption completely ignores inequality in society, the major class differences in society, as a favorable climate for the development of corruption.
Liberals ignore this aspect because they do not want to take anything against it. But if people in a public position do not have enough income for a decent life, does that make them more prone to bribery? Moreover, if the oligarchs are concentrated in enormous financial power, will they not take advantage of the politicians’ moves in their favor that are not in accordance with the laws and the public interest? The persistent ignorance of the social situation and the concentration of exclusively on the law demonstrates the futility of the liberal discourse on corruption and the inability to make a serious breakthrough in the fight against corruption. Without reducing inequality in society, it is unrealistic to expect the root causes of corruption to be eradicated.

The second extremely important thing that must be done is to break the monopoly over clientelist party politics. If there are only clientelist parties in one country, how can we expect a non-corrupt government? And in Macedonia that is how the system is set up that only clientelist parties have real chances of success. First, political party registration is associated with a financial cost of around € 6,000, a sum that is small for any boss but extremely high for any group of self-organized citizens who refuse to sell to a “financier”. Second, the electoral system punishes the participation of non-partisan initiatives by requiring them to have six times as many signatures (!) As to state candidate lists at the state level than required by parties. Third, the power of election campaign money is enormous, and the “limitations” of campaign spending are just make-up and do not prevent the privileged position of parties with a strong “financial back” in the election.

Fourth, the media, often associated with clientelist parties and business lobbying, has in practice sought to limit the coverage of parties that are “intruders” from the standpoint of the established corrupt system as much as possible. If we want to have only clientelist parties on the menu – all this has to change. And one thing is for sure – the clientelist parties will not do it without pressure.

Yet again, the mega-scandal “Racket” put the problem of corruption on the agenda. Lamentation, anger, and even appropriate penalties for offenders will not prevent the problem from being reproduced. The problem is the system that enables corruption. And it has to change.

Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik