by Ahmed Al-Masri*
The 22nd of May 1990, a new Republic emerged by merging two dogmatically distinct regimes (Southern part of Yemen and Northern part of Yemen). This republic called the “Republic of Yemen”. The Republic of Yemen inherited many political, economic and social challenges from the former regimes and added more problems and challenges due to many reasons among them; lack of transparent government, corruption, lack of good governance and real practice of direct democracy. Direct democracy refers to the institutionalization of citizen participation in decision-making that is, creating mechanisms for making participation a regular feature of government business. State institutions are not functioning properly and corruption is becoming the driving force in citizen’s life. The number of the poor and unemployed is towering up every year and the number of the influential forces, officials, and tribal figures enriched by the abuse of power is increasing dramatically. Corruption is a very serious challenge that hits all aspects of Yemeni’s life.
Despite the facts that, Yemen has made important efforts with the aid of many donors agency; World Bank, UNDP, EU and others, to modernize the management of the country and to brings about reforms in its structures and institutions. These efforts have been accompanied with many obstacles and faced by corruption, absence of transparency, lack of accountability and rule of law, and weak judiciary. Observing this satiation in Yemen, one can find that no serious analysis or concrete procedures have been taken to tackle the problem corruption.
Widespread and growing corruption has a profoundly corrosive effect on governance and the quality of life in Yemen. Corruption is ranked as a major problem by many reports and donors comments including EU, the World Bank and the Americans. Transparency International ranks Yemen near the bottom of its corruption scale 2.4 in 2004 and 2.7 in 2005. The World Bank recently declared that the government's performance indicators fell markedly and cut Yemen's funding support by 34 percent due to corruption. As indicated by News Yemen website, this significant reduction was attributed to the failure of the government to meet minimum standards of transparency, efficiency, and improvement of investment-related conditions, and its deficiency in fighting corruption. The qualification assessment for the U.S. funded Millennium Challenge Account determined that the Yemen has moved backwards from previous assessments. Yemen ranks eighth on the Fund for Peace's "Failed State Index."(Foreign Policy Journal, 2005).
Furthermore, corruption is widespread in every branch and level of government. Most government officials and parliamentarians alike are the main law breakers and were presumed to benefit from insider deals and embezzlement.
The judiciary has been criticized for many years for its lengthy proceedings and perceived corruption. Files went missing, cases were barred before entering the docket and verdicts were delivered on the basis of false evidence. Judges were not exclusively to blame. Public attention has recently focused on dishonest court experts who falsify evidence and corrupt lay judges who are available for hire. Lay judges are members of the panels that preside over the criminal, family and labor courts.
The phenomenon of corruption in Yemen is a result of prevailing bad socio-economic and governance conditions in the country. Factors such as poverty, scarcity, and lack of access to basic services, lack of information, overly bureaucratic institutions and low incentives for civil servants come together in various permutations and combinations to give rise to corruption.
All the previous details on corruption in Yemen proved that absence of governance produced corruption which in turn serves as an obstacle against the functions of state economic policy, reform program, and redistribution of good and welfare. A clear example, the Federation of Chambers of Commerce reported that “administrative corruption is one of the reasons for the rolling down of the economy, resulting in misdetection, draining the public funds. (The Federation of the Chambers of Commerce & Industry of Yemen, 1998).
This fact also stated by Burrowes (2005) who confirm that “many potential foreign investors decided that the risks were too great relative to potential gains based partly on a number of well –publicized cases of corruption, nepotism, and political favoritism”
However, for the first time, the parliament actively challenged the executive in a number of high-profile corruption cases. These included a 2004 oil scandal for the allegedly illegal sale of government property to the Yemen Petroleum Company. Petty corruption was widely reported in nearly every government office. Job candidates are often expected to purchase their positions. Tax inspectors were reported to undervalue their assessments and pocket the difference. Many government officials received salaries for jobs they did not perform or multiple salaries for the same job.
Due to huge pressure by the international donors, Yemeni Government formed a national Authority to investigate corruption at all level of the state and public life, Supreme National Anti Corruption Committee (SNACC) has the power to investigate corruption, refer government officials for prosecution, retrieve funds obtained through corrupt practices, draft and implement anti-corruption policies and hold senior government officials accountable for financial activities.
Yes, Corruption is rife in Yemen. It undermines political, economic and social development. What happened in 2011, when people took to the streets, was an expression against corruption, which adversely affects economic development, undermines the creation of new jobs and eliminates the availability of good services to citizens.
Finally, The Government must indeed prove a powerful tool in helping Yemen erase its national deficit and restore the people's faith in the legitimacy of the state institutions.
International expert in governance
SudgestAid Project Officer Sana'a - Yemen