The past few months have been crucial for ICAC. The findings of the National Survey on Corruption published in March 2015 were a wakeup call, leading us to an introspective exercise with a view to amend our global strategy in the fight against corruption and money laundering. We have kick started a comprehensive sensitisation campaign as our first response. However, ICAC wishes to ignite a national debate as to whether fighting corruption and money laundering is the sole responsibility of just the anti-corruption agency? Or else the fight of each citizen of this country. Indeed each member of the community should feel concerned and take up arms in the fight against corruption and money laundering.

It is an undeniable fact that corruption exists in Mauritius, as everywhere else in the world. However, the knee jerk reaction to this by some ‘opinion leaders’ continues to be the fallacious blaming of ICAC. Are we responsible for this state of affairs? The answer is a resounding NO. Corruption happens for several reasons: personal greed , decline of personal ethical sensitivity, no sense of service when working in public or private institutions etc. ICAC is mandated to spearhead the national fight against corruption and money laundering. This fight is not solely the responsibility of a single agency and the whole community should feel concerned.

ICAC is not breaking ground with this claim. The top three mandates of the Commission as per section 20 of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PoCA) are to:

  1. educate the public against corruption;
  2. enlist and foster public support in combating corruption; and
  3. receive and consider any allegation that a corruption offence has been committed.

ICAC has always worked with a number of stakeholders in that respect.

the Commission… is still being unfairly hammered as a “political punching bag” by some.

ICAC has, nonetheless, come to the conclusion that there is a missing link in the fight against corruption and indeed some components appear to be dysfunctional. The cornerstone of any national strategy in the fight against corruption is public trust and support. True it is that ICAC has to go to some length to garner this trust and support, but it is unacceptable that some quarters still undermine this national fight. Despite countless appeals to reason by the Commission, it is still being unfairly hammered as a “political punching bag” by some. These people, whether they wish it or not, are stakeholders and must realise that the ultimate damage they are causing is not to their political nemesis, but to the national fight against corruption.

The Commission realises that just a sensitisation campaign is not going to change mindsets overnight. ICAC is therefore moving towards the next step by laying stress on the fact that an effective and efficient national fight against corruption will not be possible without legislative reforms. But we are reassured to learn that the policymakers are already working toward bringing legislation to tackle issues such as whistleblowing and witness protection, declaration of assets, financing of political parties, among others. Such amendments will no doubt plug long identified loopholes in our current legislative framework in addition to propositions made by ICAC on amendments required on unexplained wealth and corruption in the private sector.

However, even with such mechanisms, a national fight against corruption will only materialise if all stakeholders rally together and we all look in the same direction and say NO to corruption and money laundering.