The Effects of Nepotism in the Public Interest
Nepotism refers to an illegal form of favoritism given to people who are not qualified for a given position, simply on the grounds that they are relatives of the one appointing them. Nepotism is an ethical issue, as the relative granted the position does not necessarily possess the appropriate qualifications, but gains the position without necessarily doing so on merit. It is a common practice demonstrated by honoring, promoting, or rewarding relationships, especially in government offices. An example that best shows nepotism is for instance where a chief executive officer in a well known government parastatal promotes his nephew to a managerial post left vacant after the former manager retired due to old age, despite having better qualified and experienced personnel who would have been better suited to the position.
Since nepotism is common in government organizations, its impact is mostly experienced by the people in the public sector. It is a vice that has to be condemned as it affects the public interest in a majorly negative way. Public interest refers to the welfare and common good of the general public. It refers to the common well being, whereby everyone has a stake which benefits his/her interest. The determination of whether a given proposals or actions falls under the public interest, has brought a lot of confusion, as in an effort to satisfy their selfish gains, many have expressed self gratifying ideas and proposals to be initiated as public interest.
To ensure that something is for the common good and does not seek to benefit a few individuals, the government has given authority to various governing bodies to make appropriate investigation and research to determine the effectiveness and the benefits that something brings to the public interest. Examples of these governing bodies include, approved private commissioners, members of the legislatures, local government councils, statutory, disciplinary and regulatory bodies among others.
Nepotism in government offices is an unethical practice that undermines the common good, since it leads to unfairness, injustices and inequality within the public. The impact of nepotism is experienced in various ways by the public. For instance, nepotism does not follow proper merit while making appointments or while awarding or hiring, and therefore it presents unfairness to those who could have been hired based on their better qualifications, sufficient experience and credentials, thus being better suited for the position. In addition, the services rendered by the favored unqualified persons are inferior, meaning the public can only get poor and low quality services due to a lack of the right expertise to carry out the job.
Another major way, in which nepotism undermines the public interest, is by causing the public to suffer the burden of loss of funds and heavy taxations, due to mismanagement .This happens because those appointed through nepotism are incompetent and offer incompetent services, that compromise the smooth running of the operations of government offices. When the offices are mismanaged, it leads to loss of public resources and finances which costs the public millions of tax money ironically compensated for through taxation.
A good example of nepotism in the public service was the recent case of Anna Bligh, who after winning the Queensland election in 2008, proceeded to employ her husband Withers at the Bureaucracy. This looks even worse when one considers that the position his husband was appointed to head, was actually created prior to his appointment, perhaps pointing to some form of favoritism. Even more interesting was the fact that Withers quit government due to the sole intention of avoiding a conflict of interest. Even though the issue of nepotism might not entirely be true, the relationship Withers had with the premier must definitely have influenced his appointment and his ability to carry out his tasks effectively.
Finally, nepotism affects national unity as it may lead to sensitive issues such as racism, tribalism, ethnicity and family background discrimination. This is because by hiring relatives from the same ethnic group, one may lock out other groups, which promotes discrimination. Those who miss positions they merit, simply due to nepotism, are faced with economic constraints and are subjected to certain levels of lacking, which may promote poverty which consequently undermine the development in the society causing more harm to the public interest, resulting in a lack of unity.
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