MOST OF the political parties issued strongly-worded announcements on the occasion of International Anti-Corruption Day on Monday. They all cited the most recent World Bank report which said that, since 2013, Cyprus’ corruption indicators had recorded the biggest increase of all EU countries. The parties had a field day using terms such as “champions of corruption” and “avalanche of scandals” while calling for “transparency and clean-up.”
It was convenient that the period under review was after 2013, allowing all the opposition parties to heap all the blame on the Anastasiades government, while they took the moral high ground, acting as if corruption is the monopoly of the executive. It is not and it has never been, even though it is only fair that the government of the day should take biggest share of the responsibility for the rise in the corruption indicators.
It is also true that this government has not exactly been irreproachable in the seven years it has been in power, with many reports, both in Cyprus and abroad, referring to the links of President Anastasiades to his former law office and casting shadows over the citizenship by investment scheme, among other things. We are still awaiting the findings of two investigations – one by the financial crime unit Mokas into the allegations of big money transfers and one by the auditor-general regarding the use by Anastasiades of a private jet.
There have been other investigations of Anastasiades while in office – Ryanair and the Pera Pedi development – but the auditor-general, who conducted both of them found no wrongdoing in either case. In their anti-corruption announcements, the parties focused on the citizenships and the closing down of the co-operative bank, which was a bit rich considering it was the corrupt practices of the politicians of all parties over the years that led the co-ops to bankruptcy.
What happened to the co-ops was not as a result of government corruption, as the parties have been claiming, but a result of the corruption in which all parties were involved. It is not only the government that engages in nepotism either – public jobs and promotions are shared out among the members of all the parties even though the governing party’s receive the bigger share. The total domination and control of public life by the political parties that fuels corruption was not mentioned in any of Monday’s anti-corruption messages.
The ministry of justice meanwhile, is preparing a National Strategy Against Corruption, which, in theory, is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, it is difficult to see it working because anything that threatens the deeply-rooted party clientelism is unlikely to be backed by political parties.