While Cyprus seems to be fighting a losing battle against the spread of COVID-19, there is a new craze in town called corruption crusader.
Everyone wants to eliminate the “untouchables” from public life by making sure they pay their taxes and don’t get all the plum government contracts.
Politicians are fighting amongst each other to become the next Robocop arresting white-collar criminals, purveyors of bribes and give elitism a bloody nose.
The usually tame Cypriot public is starting to grind its teeth at the unequal playing field. A system loaded against them that panders to the establishment.
If the government were really going to get tough on sleaze all the lawyers, accountants and politicians would be in jail.
Not to mention their mates, hangers-on, relatives and cousins twice removed.
Nepotism is reliant on an entire eco-system where the male backhander species is king.
It only takes a wink and a nod for the deed to be done in plain sight. Done under the guise of democracy with the rules and regulations adapted to fit any purpose.
That’s the façade.
Getting people to believe that if they have talent, ability, and know-how they will get what they deserve. It’s the democracy of meritocracy.
This is a tale the rich and connected spin to hoodwink the disenfranchised.
To make them believe that those in power are working in their interests.
It’s the greatest lie ever told. A lie that people want to believe because it might become true. The crooked dice might roll their way for once.
But prison isn’t full of wealthy individuals who bribed their way to power or called in a favour.
All the bravado about not sweeping scandals under the carpet while extracting the rot is big-budget science fiction for mass appeal.
Rolling thunder over the ‘golden passports’ fiasco is just that – it will pass.
Of course, fine upstanding public officials will look at the evidence, point to a fall guy and move on.
History suggests none of the sharks will be caught or thrown behind bars.
Going for the real culprits would mean tearing down the system. That is not going to happen. There are too many vested interests.
You can feel a sense of the absurd when two independent institutions come to blows in trying to prove their anti-corruption credentials.
People’s Champion I, the Attorney General says he is going leave no stone unturned in investigating the disgraced passport for investment scheme.
In the red corner, People’s Champion II (Auditor General) wants freedom of the ring to look under some suspicious rocks that might get overlooked on purpose.
Cyprus’ top lawyer and chief accountant are throwing mud cakes at each other to see if they stick.
Have they just discovered that corruption has infected Cypriots for the first time?
Similar to when the Spanish went to South America and destroyed the Aztec civilisation through smallpox.
Dishonesty in public life isn’t a new technology to be understood, it is older than Greek mythology – there are no surprises.
Corruption happens because there is tolerance of it, the entire system is built on knowing somebody “who knows a guy”.
In this patriarchal backwater its usually always a guy delivering the goods.
We live in a society of dirty deals because the justice system is out of sync.
The public turns a blind eye if it works for them while those in authority are usually compromised.
Would we even be having this conversation if Al Jazeera didn’t set up a sting operation to catch our politicians in a lie for all to see?
Maybe public anger is driven not so much by having sleazeball politicians exploiting the system but the fact they were so confident in not getting caught.
Their Olympic-sized arrogance in breaking the rules was captured on film.
It was embarrassing in the way that everybody knew that Cypriots knew this was going on but did not care to rock the boat.
When the EU told us to put the brakes on the passport scheme, the government dismissed it as jealousy from our rivals.
Then after Al Jazeera leaked the ‘Cyprus Papers’ it was brushed aside as pro-Turkish “propaganda” designed to harm the Republic.
There was no room to manoeuvre when Al Jazeera screened the ‘gotcha’ video starring politicians and lawyers going the full nine yards to indulge a criminal investor.
You can’t ignore how rotten the political system is when broadcast globally in ultra-high definition.
State institutions running around trying to put out fires they allowed to burn with such ferocity only fuels incredulity.
President Nicos Anastasiades said Cypriots are justified in being angry about corruption in public life.
He declared that measures will be announced to restore public trust in authority.
Anything short of improving the service culture in government, rebooting the justice system, improving schools, health, and social welfare is empty rhetoric.
Lets us assume, for now, it is business as usual for our Teflon politicians.