Dishonest Citizens Lead Society Astray

Dec 11 , 2021
By Eden Sahle

Last week, while using one of the taxi-hailing providers, I met a driver who was using his employer’s sedan without their knowledge and consent to provide transportation service.

Shortly after I got into his car, he received a call from one of his colleagues who was speaking very angrily. He put the call on loudspeaker and started talking to a man he later described as a difficult colleague. The driver was asked where he was, and he answered that he was out for lunch.

His colleague told him to come immediately. Instead of agreeing, the driver picked up an argument saying that he would not come before finishing this meal.

“This company is treating me unfairly. I am not even allowed to have proper mealtime?” he insisted.

He was not ashamed about his misappropriation of his employer’s property. He was bold defending himself, adding one lie after another.

His frustrated colleague hung up the phone. The driver turned his head to me and smiled.

"Can you believe this guy? Why does he care about the employers who are rich and have it all?" he said to me.

The driver expected my affirmation for his lack of integrity and wrongdoing. He continued without expecting a response.

"My salary is not enough for me, so I must support myself," he said.

While doing multiple jobs was admirable, I told him, what he is doing is theft using his employer’s vehicle for an unintended purpose, affecting their work. I added that it was staggering how he treated his colleague.

"He deserved it," he said. “My colleague always wants to come in between my benefits.”

Seemingly angry with me, he complained about how we live in a country of many problems.

How could I blame him for lying for a good cause of supporting himself financially?

He was not willing to admit he was caught red-handed, misusing company property.

Cutting my destination by half, I told him to drop me off when he was out of the long traffic queue. He was unhappy but agreed to my request.

"Relax," he told me. "I do this all the time."

Apparently, he earns between 700 to a thousand Birr a day providing transportation service on top of the 10,000 Br his employers pay him for a full-time driver position. Even the general manager of the company does not earn his total monthly income, according to him.

Amid unmoving traffic, there was a white minibus vehicle next to us with an image of a woman pictured in a hospital bed. A loudspeaker was playing, asking for contributions towards hospital treatment. A man’s pre-recorded voice said the bedridden woman needs to go aboard for tuberculosis illness – a disease fully treatable in Ethiopia.

The diver turned his head towards me again.

"You are disappointed that I used my employer’s vehicle," he started. "Look at these people. I know what they are doing. They are the ones who are thieves, not me who is earning every penny I make."

He said the minibus and speakers are hired for 600 Br a day. The volunteers collecting money in cardboard boxes make 250 Br a day. He said he has close friends who provide such services around Addis Abeba. It was a profitable venture for his friends.

People like this driver and his friends erode trust in individuals and undermine societal merits. They are hypocrites that see and magnify others' faults instead of theirs. They destroy values that can help us grow and develop as a country.

Many do not hold themselves accountable but point fingers at someone else carrying out the same offence in a different tactic. With such a mindset, reform becomes a far-flung dream with individuals justifying their misuse of responsibility.

By degrading social norms and civic virtues, criminal behaviours destroy the foundations of an economy. The damage will be catastrophic if people do not take responsibility for their actions.

Many do not realise what they do on an individual level one way or the other impacts the nation and the public. Lack of integrity costs the country too much. The more irresponsibility, fraud and dishonesty are embedded in the day-to-day life of the public, the higher chance it becomes an accepted norm causing lasting damage. Being a good citizen starts by having integrity even when no one is watching.

PUBLISHED ON Dec 11,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1128]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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