“We are compelled to steal to make a living”, the voice of the civil servants

By Chol Peter Majoh

Our salaries are oftentimes delayed, not coming promptly in time in addition to the fact that it’s small and not able to cater for all our needs, we are forced to sin to make a living.
Yes, conditionally compelled to embezzle, steal or apply corruption in order to manage or pay our children’s school fees, medication and to provide other basic necessities such as food, shelter, clothes, et cetera for our families, loved ones and friends in need.
It’s quite a compelling situation, we are put into and said to be integral even when we see government’s money in the confers we have access to. Imagine some of us working at Central Bank, those working for Revenue Authority, and ministries and other public sectors who see money yet are not promptly paid nor given enough and life continues to press on us, what do we resort to do?  Obviously, corruption! Or, stealing! 
This is the irony making corruption hard to deal with. Even for those who are charged with the responsibility to combat corruption like the anti-corruption bodies are compelled to pardon or excuse corruption in one way or another, even by being silent about corruption.  Likewise, by not bringing to book many of us who engage in corruption. To us, we believe they know we are compelled to steal to make a living, why not?!

‎If you think we are wrong, put yourself in our shoes, kede, and see if you can manage to be clean and be able to not engage or indulge in corruption.  We swear, you would be the worse practitioner of corruption.

Look, how can’t you do that when your wife/ husband, children, relatives, friends and neighbors know you are working and they need help?

On the other hand, your in-laws need something.  It could be you had not settled the pride price and they keep reminding you just after work. Every weekend, they come to you to ask if you are ready to settle with them.

Remember, someone committed suicide because his in-laws took his wife and children because he had not paid anything, could this person have done that if he had any access to public money? I don’t even think so. 

‎If you feel this, that is the very reason we, the civil servants, are engaging in corruption in the eyes of civil rights societies, anti-corruption bodies, and the government so far.  We are just compelled to do that and it’s not about just giving corruption excuse. Truely, we are compelled, very compelled to embezzle, to steal; to sin to make a living.
‎Okay if you don’t want corruption, try this. Pay us promptly. Give us enough and see if corruption would still be existing next year, 2023. If you increase our payment and be able to pay often in time, no corruption will continue to invade our economy. Believe us, corruption would be nowhere. It would find its way to other countries were civil servants are being paid less. 

This is the simplest way corruption could be combated. No other way than this. Are you an anti-corruption agent? Are you a government?  An NGO?  Or a civil rights activist wanting corruption to vanish? Oh! You want a corruption-free zone? 
It’s simply, as those who engage in it(corruption), we know how it would best be dealt with. You want to know that? Simple, pay attention to the salaries of those who engage in corruption and they fear law. 
‎Don’t you know that when a person is hungry, he even forgets that he is alive and begins not to fear death and thinks about where to eat no matter how risky it may be? 

That’s the same when it comes to corruption and embezzlement, no one adheres to law against corruption when he’s empty stomach.  Get this point very clear: Corruption won’t go as long as we still sleep hungry. 

‎As long as our children can’t go to school because of school fees, as long as our salaries are not able to cater for our needs and when prices keep hiking, soaring higher and higher without any control by the concerned authorities, guess what?  Corruption will not go. It will continue to abide, bite and invades us.
Do you think we don’t know what corruption does harmful to the development of any country? We know corruption is bad! We know it retards development and it wrecks Nations, but what do we do? Should we choose to suffer or die when corruption is able to save us?  Absolutely no! 
There, if you think as a government, NGO, individual or institution you are not corrupt, check yourself. You might be in any way nurturing corruption. For example, in the area of low payment of your staff.  Otherwise, don’t just come out to tackle corruption without having thought big.
Tackling corruption is not only arresting the indulgent (the practitioners) of it, it’s not just a formation of anti-corruption body, or a mere advocacy against it, it means more than that. It goes as far as where its root is firmly established. Do you know where?  In low payment of civil servants, in no accountability, in no proper and legal follow up, and no critical watch at the public funds.
However, to deal with corruption amicably, means seeing why it happens; what compels those who engage therein and finding a remedial solution to that.  By doing so, it’s quite simple to bring corruption to non-existence.

The author is reachable via email:,
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