The Integrity Commission, IC is important, needed, vital, and critical. Please feel free to add your own descriptive for flavour. This does not in any way make its existence far more important than any other body responsible for the guarantee of good order and principle in society. The courts, police, teachers, clergy and many others must also be expected to conform to expected and accepted principles under which they exist. They will all fall short of perfection, so it is only normal and natural that checks and balances allow the public to hold them to account. There appears to be a rather glaring light being shone into the eyes of those who dare to challenge the integrity of the commission, its leadership and handling of its affairs.
It is four lengths past the post of asinine to believe that seeking to keep the IC in line is an attempt to undermine its function and mandate. Certainly, no institution can be free to function and fair if left on its own to frolic. The reliance on a strict adherence to tenets is like asking trusted dogs who guard babies to not lick their faces or expecting those with big umbrellas to never get their feet wet in heavy showers. It is foolhardy to believe that well oiled machines and mechanisms will always work perfectly if left to run on their own. So it is with the IC. The constant preaching of a sermon against those who wish it well, but insist on seeing it function well, is actually giving support to its undermining of itself.
In recent times there has been much public debate about parliamentarians signing an issued “code of conduct” supposedly created and crafted by the IC to ensure adherence to good governance by elected officials. Interestingly, it appears there has been the signing of an edited and returned document by an official. We have no idea if this “version” added, removed, improved or diluted what was sent by the IC, but it was approved by them and declared “signed”. However, as I had said then and maintain now, was that the regular procedure? Can that lead to several different “versions” of a code of conduct being signed by different officials? Was the one approved by the IC made to become the new “version”, and if not, does it mean the other officials have been sent a document that is not the same?
I keep these questions in mind with very little answers to offer, as the IC has a very convenient and curious “gag clause” it uses as a conduit for information. I also find it rather irregular that the IC took a long time researching, investing its resources and expertise in creating this document, only to be brought to the realisation that it is almost plagiarism at best. The much touted and talked about document outlining the needed tenets to be followed already exists, and in fact, has been used by elected officials for twenty odd years. It must be seen as reasonable on my part for disappointment to be my best expression of emotion.
I, being well aware of the constituted members of the IC leadership, was of the firm belief that this code of conduct would be new, another level on the ladder, something to desire for all public officials and a move in the right direction. I was mystified about the seeming reluctance on the part of the government elected and selected officials to sign what I believed to be a most detailed and deliberate effort to dictate decorum and duty. Frankly speaking, its eventual revelation was a let-down in the laziness it displayed, its dismal attempt to distract from how little attention had been paid to detail and a reminder that leaving custodians on their own is never a good idea.
Instead of public arguments and convenient revelations in the public interest that happen to flower political plants, the IC should sit and do some damn work. It needs to create a code of conduct, not a carbon copy of what already exists. If a politician has always been required to sign a document and he or she has complied, it is of no real value to be demanding they sign the same code to merely prove an already established fact. The IC should show that what they have to offer goes several steps ahead in the mandate and mission of holding officials accountable, giving us something to serve as the “new order”, not old, cold codes already being signed. The attempt at giving the impression that those who fail to sign an already signed code are corrupt is actually what is corrupt. There is no way an individual can be asked to take an oath on the bible before giving evidence, deliver the oath, then be told he or she must take it again while in the same proceedings. That is not only a waste of time, but seeks to undermine the integrity of those who take the oath, when in fact, one should question the integrity of those insisting it be taken a second time. The IC needs to do some introspection, step down from the saddle of ego on its high horse and do something meaningful, instead of preening itself as a conduit of codes already created and common.