The latest scandal to blow up in the government’s face – the forgery by Volunteerism Commissioner of high school grades and submission of an allegedly fake college degree – has its roots far deeper than the election campaign for a new parliament.
All political parties have avoided talk of accountability for fear of upsetting civil servants who might switch votes if they feel threatened by finger-pointing or even prosecution.
For now, opposition parties are comfortable using this gaffe to convince the public that the Anastasiades – DISY administration is the most corrupt we have ever had.
The government has lashed back, albeit with a poor excuse, saying the ‘initial’ review and recruitment was the doing of the then Akel-DIKO alliance.
There is no mistake that the blame for the appointment as Commissioner lies primarily with the incumbent president and his associates.
They should have screened the candidate before offering him a job, especially one of near-Cabinet rank.
If any other proposal, even to an unimportant public sector board or council, is subject to excessive scrutiny, why wasn’t this the case for creating the Commissioner’s post and subsequent appointment?
Worse still, if you were unfortunate to study at a foreign university not regarded a global top 10, due to your family’s financial constraints, then the academic accreditation board, KYSATS, will do its utmost not to recognise your degree as if punishing anyone for not attending Cyprus state universities.
And why was the Volunteerism Commissioner’s alleged fake college degree not flagged when he first applied to the Youth Council (where it seems he was still employed, enjoying a double salary)?
Should there not have been a stamp of approval from KYSATS, or were instructions given to override this glitch?
The Anastasiades administration cannot exclusively blame the Akel-DIKO coalition for the faulty first appointment when it knew (or should have known) what one of its own had done.
And will we ever find out who the selection committee members were for those appointments? Hardly.
Another scandal is to be swept under the carpet, this time passing the buck onto the prosecution authorities.
If the punishment for forgery is up to 3 years in jail or a hefty fine, will this penalty also be imposed on those who should have screened the appointments?
When Transparency International ranked Cyprus 42nd in its global corruption index in January, the Anastasiades administration blamed the disgraced Akel MP and the former Speaker of the House who brought the Al Jazeera revelations about dodgy ‘golden passports’ upon our heads.
It simply ignored the fact the government cultivated an entire industry, unsustainable as it was, saying it was the lifesaver the Cyprus economy needed to get out of bankruptcy inherited from the previous administration.
That was almost 10 years ago, and the same dirty tricks are at work.