TV Show Celebrates Integrity in Government
VOICE OF AMERICA
A reality TV show that celebrates honest civil servants in corruption-plagued countries has grown to reach new audiences in Mali and Liberia. It aims to enlist the public’s help in fighting graft.
Integrity Idol asks the public to nominate model civil servants and then vote for their favorite by text message after the finalists appear on national TV and radio. The show launched in Nepal in 2014 and has since spread to Liberia, Mali, Nigeria and Pakistan.
In the finals in December 2017 in the West African nations of Liberia and Mali, a nursing instructor and a teacher were voted the winners from among thousands of nominees.
“There are lots of challenges to being a person of integrity in Liberia,” said Liberia’s winner, Rebecca Scotland, a nursing teacher in the capital, Monrovia. Corruption is so common in Liberia and across the region that patients even bribe nurses to ensure that they receive the proper medicine and care, she said.
She plans to create a network with other winners to boost honesty and transparency in the public sector, she told Reuters after receiving the award.
Liberia ranked 90th out of 176 countries on watchdog Transparency International’s global corruption perception index in 2016, while Mali ranked 116th. In Mali, politicians are sometimes arrested for graft but avoid penalties because the judges also are corrupt, said Moussa Kondo, who launched Integrity Idol there in 2016.
“We want to show young generations that there’s another way to become famous, without getting rich,” he told Reuters.
Mali’s winner, Mahamane Mahamane Baba, teaches at a public high school in Timbuktu and organizes literacy classes in his free time. In Mali, people made 3,011 nominations for Integrity Idol in 2017, compared to 2,850 in 2016, Kondo said.
Liberians submitted 4,689 nominations in 2017, more than three times the number when the show started in 2015, while the reach of the campaign through radio and TV stations has grown eightfold to more than 4 million people.