Transparency International launches activities in Egypt
CAIRO: Transparency International (TI), the global coalition against corruption, held a seminar in Cairo to launch their activities in Egypt and to promote an adapted edition of The Source Book on corruption-related issues.
The seminar was organized with the Center for Egyptian Women s Legal Assistance (CEWLA) and was funded by the Danish-Egyptian Dialogue Institute (DEDI).
Transparency International is a global network including more than 90 locally-established national chapters and chapters-in-formation. The coalition intends to open a chapter here in Egypt.
The organization works in collaboration with other organizations that undertake investigations of alleged corruption and expose individual cases, but TI itself does not name names.
As for the Danish-Egyptian Dialogue Institute, they search for local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and support them by funding them or by giving them technical assistance. The institute helps in combating corruption and establishing good governance. It accomplishes its aims by funding projects in the scope of its mandate and offering technical experience or advocacy to NGOs. The institute also facilitates some networking to bring like organizations to work together.
The three organizations worked to get anti-corruption activists to together in establishing a new body that would fight corruption.
Egypt is an important country and we don’t have a chapter here, there s a major gap here, says Casey Kelso, Transparency International secretariat in Berlin and director of the Africa and the Middle East department.
We re here to encourage Egyptian activists to fight corruption the way they choose, not to impose a method from outside, he adds.
The seminar was a first step and also a brainstorm session for analyst presentations on their views of the origins of corruption and suggestions on combating it.
Presentations discussed corruption from a number of angles, political, economic and ethical. Most of the analysts agreed that political oppression and the lack of freedom and democracy offer an environment where corruption can thrive.
The main condition to combat corruption is the existence of a democratic system, says Ahmed El-Naggar, an analyst from Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
El-Naggar suggests that an independent watchdog be created which has access to government information. He also stresses the importance of judicial independence, separation of powers and a time limit of five years for governmental employees in administrative positions.
Mohamed El-Sayed Said, deputy director of Al-Ahram Center, has another point of view. The relationship between democracy and corruption is complex, he says. We have to deal with wages and salaries realistically, a teacher that receives LE 200 [a month] must break into corruption, or else he would be a fool.
Said continues, referring to the inconsistency of wages and expenses, explaining that anyone would break down to be able to afford living expenses. The trouble with corruption is that the people themselves accept corruption, and they support anyone who’s able to get a bigger piece. The solution he say is to acknowledge that the problem is everywhere, change the culture and deal realistically with wages.
The second goal of the seminar is to promote The Source Book to civil society.
The translated and adapted source book, Arab National Integrity System, is mainly a source for most of the information collected about corruption in the Middle East. Instead of simply translating the edition into Arabic, the book was adapted into an Arabic context, adding relevant parts suited to this part of the world.
Two participants were invited to represent Transparency International s Palestinian and Moroccan chapters. They shared their experiences and expectations for the Egyptian chapter, Mr. Ali Sedqi from the Moroccan branch said, There are high hopes for Egypt, a chapter must be opened in a corrupt environment not an already clean one.
After listening to the analysts and the attendants comments, Kelso commented, I was shocked by a lot of what I heard, especially about the judiciary situation. The government should see anti-corruption fighters as their allies.