African heads of state recently congregated in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and made noises about strategising how to tackle corruption in Africa. Those who know how and why corruption is blessedly endemic in Africa, the agenda raised eye brawls after hearing such a pipedream dreamt by the very culprits. In looking into how fighting corruption in Africa can be actualised or not, I'll look into the following to see what is into them:
First, are African rulers really serious about this grand standing? If they're, what have they individually already done to address the problem in their countries? Ironically, the president who is renowned for practically fighting corruption, Dr. John Pombe Magufuli didn’t attend. He instead, sent his PM. Why? Maybe, he doesn’t see any sincerity and seriousness in this or doesn’t want to waste money on palaver. The same applies to Davos annual congregation his predecessors liked to waste money on.
Secondly, is there anyway one can fight corruption in Africa without firstly fighting and stamping out internal colonisation presided over by black colonisers who are legally above the law as a motivation for becoming corrupt knowingly that they'll never been brought to book? I don’t know; if the presidents who tampered with the constitutions of their countries have any moral authority left for them to fight corruption.
What corruption are they fighting without defining it? As I know, there are many types of corruption from mega, petty, institutional and systemic revolving around the mother of corruption namely political corruption in which clientelism and other menaces such as the politics of ‘it is our time to eat’ thrive. It is under this system notably, wherein politicians took over and became the masters of everybody including other bands of elites. It is this juncture at which serious opposition; political parties and politicians are eliminated or corrupted so as to join a gravy train. Indeed, it is at this juncture corruption was legalised by the backdoor while accountability divorced.
Thanks to political corruption resulting from internal colonisation, African rulers or black colonisers have never injected any accountability to their people. They're only accountable to their masters who seldom change guards when need be. Thanks to the demands from their masters, corruption and rent-seeking have become rampant so as to allow rulers and a few “untouchable” elites to hold their countries to ransom pointlessly. To survive, many black colonisers purposely decide to deprive their people of services. For, once people are deprived of services, apart from facing hardships, miseries and poverty, they spend much time struggling to just survive; and thereby, black colonisers thrive in power.
Further, due to political corruption and internalised internal colonisation, officials elected in public offices after bribing voters, normally use their positions to recoup the money they spent on their election. As well, such officials are easily bribed by big corporate which use them to pass the laws that favour their businesses. To cap it all, electoral malpractices involving individuals and their political parties mainly the ruling ones seem to be systemically accepted. When Al Jazeera Television aired its program Witness depicting how political corruption has become cancer by covering the presidential election at Majaoni Secondary school in Kilifi where students were spending money and meat to bribe other students to vote for them, Van Velzen made this conclusion “it was an eye opener for me. In Kenya, corruption appears to be a survival mechanism, the only real way to get anything done. As if there is no other way. And because this is so interwoven throughout the society as a whole, children are picking up on it from a young age; be it consciously or subconsciously. They don’t know any better and copy their parents’ behavior.” Does this need AU or Kenya to address?
What should Africa do to root out endemic and systemic corruption? Africans need to rebel against the current institutions and systems governing Africa as ex-colonising powers passed them down; and were accepted, applied and replicated by post-colonial rulers. They are purely colonial by acts and nature. Further, Africans must have institutional and systemic powers of auditing and controlling their governments to see to it that their expenditures and general practices are compatible with fiscal discipline and laws. For example, apart from stealing and wasting public funds, African governments have another carte blanche. They are at liberty to borrow and spend money as they wish without necessarily involving those who pay the debts resulting from their borrowing and abusive expenditures. Failure to decolonise Africa, whoever comes with proposals of tackling corruption without touching on the root causes is wasting our time not to mention making a noise. I would conclude asking African rulers to go to Dar es Salaam and meet with Magufuli instead of going to Addis Ababa to burn their poor taxpayers’ money on empty talk needlessly.
Source: Citizen, Feb., 14, 2018.