Learner’s Submission: Case study on the Anti-Corruption Fight in Georgia

“Georgia, one of the break–away republics from the former Soviet Union has had its share of corrupt practices in the public and other spheres of life just like any other developing countries. Corruption was much more pronounced in sectors that were more vulnerable such as the police, document processing, higher education entrance processing offices, etc. the corruption practices also did not spare other sectors; it was virtually a way of life.

Some of the consequences of this status quo were decreased revenue collection by the government, because, for example, people bribed their way to evade tax, government did not have sufficient resources to run the government and give the citizens better services that would improve their well-being. By 2003, the corruption in Georgia had reached a dangerous level with some institutions of the state working hand in hand with criminal gangs and other bad elements of the society. What also that appeared not to have given hope to remedying the situation, were flawed elections; one of such that was held in late 2003.

The then President, Eduard Shevardnadze was giving his inaugural address to the newly elected parliament when a large crowd of disgruntled citizen gathered at the entrance of the parliament carrying roses which symbolized the peaceful nature of the anti-government demonstration. This single act was the beginning of the anti-corruption reform in Georgia. The citizens (at least some of them) have had enough of the corruption practices and are signalling to the government to do something about it.

The rose revolution had some pioneers. Many of them who were now in the opposition, had served in previous government positions and understood the nature, extent and enormity of the corruption practice. One such reformer, – Mikheil Saakashvili, a former justice minister, who later came to succeed Shevardnadze had started experimenting with some positive anti-corruption efforts to gain the trust and confidence of citizens.

The new government that came to power in January 2004 after the rose revolution had popular support among the population because the theme of anti-corruption resonated well with them. Secondly the new government did not waste time in delivering on it manifesto of fighting corruption. Innovative measure were used such as limiting contact between citizens and public officials, aggressive use of technology to enhance service delivery, paying decent wages to public officials for an initial limited period, demonstrating political will, enforcing zero-tolerance for corruption in key sensitive areas such as revenue collection, jailing corruption official as well open communication and regular information to the public about anti-corruption measures being taken by the government.

The move, I would say were both reactive in the sense that the government was responding to the appalling state of affairs by putting in place all these drastic measure for the short-term; preventive by putting measures and systems in place to deter or make it hard for officials to exercise corrupt practices – examples being limited contact between citizens and government officials, widespread use of information technology to conduct business transactions, jailing of corrupt officials and assets recovery as a way of setting examples and finally some the actions were proactive as demonstrated by developing policy and regulatory frameworks, enacting appropriate legislations to mitigate corruption, strengthening the anti-corruption agency and constantly communicating with the public about measures in taming corruption. The citizens were actively involved in these anti-corruption activities: they gave the mandate to the new government, voting it overwhelmingly. The citizens were given the power to report cases of corruption, using technology and other means and the government providing the populace with regular information on cases of corruption.” Robert Palmer – Bonn, Germany


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