Corruption in Africa

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Corruption in Africa can be overcome. Period.  How? By having outstanding leaders in the community. This can only be achieved if we start at the grassroots level. In other words, with our children. The right upbringing for a child brings wonders to the child themselves, family, community, country and Africa at large.

Today Africa is covered with corrupt leaders. Not a day goes by during which you don’t read something about how corrupt the continent of Africa and its leaders are, from the “little” leader at school to the “big” leader of a country. The citizens of the continent of Africa are forced to pay bribes left, right and centre in order to get by. So, with money, however little it might be, and as long as you are willing to part with it, there is very little that you can’t achieve.  If you can afford it, you can go a long way. To the poor who can’t, their fate is forever sealed. Unfortunately, the latter are the majority. With this happening each and every day of their lives, how does one expect the poor to ever develop?

Corruption in Africa has been going on for centuries, even during the slave trade when the traditional rulers would sell their own people for their own interest.  Since then nothing has really changed. It is just that, due to Western infiltration, Africans are becoming more educated and thus aware of this foul play. Most African leaders are power hungry and greedy. When they come into a leadership role they put themselves and their immediate family first rather than the interests of the country. They forget that they are there to serve us – the people who put them in that position in the first place and the same people who can bring them down too. I don’t have to name any names because you already know who they are.

Can it also be argued that most African leaders are bound to be corrupt because of the poor background they come from? Many steal as much wealth and plunder as many assets as they can before they are deposed from power. Whatever the case, it does not give them the right to oppress the poor by making themselves richer at the expense of everyone else.  What happened to throwing someone a little bone, or you scratch my back and I will scratch yours? (I am not encouraging this.) What about sharing? After all, that land that you are stealing from is my land too!

Corruption in Third World countries will be very difficult to eradicate if the mentality and the perception of the people and leaders does not change. A solution to this problem, I think, should be to allow every leader a maximum of two terms in office because the longer they stay in power, the more they instill fear and oppress their people.

So to reiterate, corruption in Africa can be overcome by having outstanding leaders in the community, starting with our children.

Without a more rapid change, it will take Africa another century to eradicate corruption that has become so embedded within our society.

 

 

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  1. ade says

    Really interesting blog – I think there are number of things to add though:
    1. Corruption is not limited to Africa (the current News International scandal in the UK shows that corruption is alive and kicking in the West)
    2. Even in countries where leaders are in power for two terms (see Malawi, Nigeria) there has still been corruption
    3. In trying to deal with the issue of corruption in Africa, our focus should be on the small acts of corruption – the bribing of police officers, the non-payment of tax etc that ordinary citizens do and we will find that it will be harder for our leaders to be so corrupt when we stop being corrupt (at least they will be less blatant about their corruption)

  2. says

    Welcome to Africa on the Blog Salha

    Corruption in Africa is indeed getting in the way of development and hurts the most vulnerable in society. I do like the stance Rwanda has taken to stamp it out. Hopefully other countries can learn from your experience
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  3. Tony Burkson says

    Hello Salha,

    Welcome to Africa on the blog.

    Thanks for you interesting piece, however I think you make some fundamental assumptions that are both wrong and bit short-sighted.

    As Ade points out above Corruption is not an African problem, but rather a Human problem. China, India and many other countries have all developed even with huge amounts of corruption.

    The Corruption excuse is usually used by the “Development Industrial Complex” to explain away the failure of the billions that they pour into the continent – If Africa stops corruption, Our Aid programmes will work, which is a ridiculous assumption.

    You also say Most African leaders come from poor families, I think if you looked into that a bit more, you would soon see that’s its rather the opposite. Africa is run by a bunch ignorant Western Educated plutocrats whose parents sent them to school in the West during Independence struggles.

    I will write a fuller response in due time, however I think we need to be careful not fall into the trap set by NGO’s and Western Governments, that somehow if corruption stopped in Africa everything else will be fine.

    That is not realistic, as events in the UK show us, Corruption is a Human Condition not an African Affliction.

    • Nshuti Michael says

      I can’t agree more than what you have said Tony Burkson…..!Salha thanks for you’re post but you have tackled very pertinent issues Like corruption quite lightly…!otherwise will continue to follow and contribute towards your blogs this being a first one please carry on..!

      • says

        Hello Nshuti, quite lighty you think? .. This topic could go on forever… I guess there is more that I need to put on paper. There is always a next time. Thanks

  4. says

    Salha, I think that your article makes a good points and sums up a decent number of root causes of corruption. Some other comments refer to corruption as being “not just an African problem” and, although I agree, I would say that you never claim it is just an African problem.

    What is interesting therefore is that our ideas as Westerners is often tainted by those who are corrupt destroying the image of the whole continent. Say “Africa” and people will think of characters such as Mugabe, Amin, Museveni and Barre. The images we get never tell of the broader successes of the continent. This is no doubt down in part to the unscrupulous few.
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  5. says

    Hello and thanks for the warm welcome…

    One thing I would like to point out is that the post does not say that corruption only happens in Africa. I am aware that it does happen elsewhere in the world too but my focus was on Africa.

    When the campaign to stamp out corruption in Rwanda started we all thought it was a joke because we did not believe it would happen. Now in Rwanda you would not dare think of bribing anyone because that person you are trying to bride will report you to the police and you the “briber” will be in very hot water. This does not mean that corruption does not go on under the radar with a few people but at least the local person is guaranteed a service without having to pay extra. We have a long way to go if we are to see the change in the habits of Africans when it comes to corruption. However difficult it maybe, we all have to begin somewhere. With our children.

  6. says

    Welcome….interesting post and you are right corruption is not only limited to Africa alone. I think the largest portion of blame (if I can call it that ) relating to the perception of Africa lies in the hands of those who tell the African reality.More Africans need to tell their story so that we don’t often see Africa as a place full of corruption and so forth. There is another side to Africa that I personally feel need to be told.
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    • says

      Couldn’t agree more! Africa has a lot to offer to the world. Great stories come from Africa too. Unfortunately I focussed on corruption because I know that it is one of the things happening on a daily basis and is hindering all the good things we could achieve.

  7. says

    This post brings my mind to something I read that Mo Ibrahim mentioned on one of his visits to the Royal Academy of Engineering, he said, “Corruption does not exist until the opportunity to corrupt presents itself.” Mostly, it is the giver of the thick wad of money who presents that opportunity.
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  8. Ian says

    Corruption in Africa is a very serious problem, and you’re right to raise it. Others say that corruption is not confined to Africa, and of course it isn’t, but the article didn’t suggest it was. Corruption is everywhere, always has been and always will – but it can be challenged by developing a robust democratic framework where politicians are answerable to the people. Hard to do, and you need a free press as well – to expose corruption where it arises.

    One way to help stop corruption could be for Western countries to stop aid to African countries and initiate fair trade measures instead. As far as I can see, aid doesn’t work. Countries that accept aid become aid-dependent and see poverty increase, and corrupt politicians use aid to enrich themselves while letting the country starve and die. The excellent economist Dambisa Moyo pointed this out in her book ‘Dead Aid’ – she said that in countries that had come to rely on aid, poverty levels continued to escalate and growth rates steadily declined while millions continue to suffer. On the other hand, she says, African countries that have rejected the aid route have tended to prosper. Aid feeds into corruption.

    I also like the point you made about slavery within Africa – for this is certainly true – however, it’s a sensitive subject, though the topic deserves to be aired. Lastly, a personal beef – if only the armed forces in those countries would stop protecting the corrupt politicians, many more countries would climb out of the cycle of corruption and poverty. I hope that day will come.

  9. Terri Ann says

    This is great writing … I just wish we Africans could accept that this is happening in our society and deal with it accordingly. Unfortunately many wont speak up against corruption because what they get out of it is what upkeeps them. They have anaged to put their children in school thanks to the corruption and many others. I dont see how it will change if we dont start combating it NOW.

  10. says

    In response to the question about people coming from poor background.It think corruption has nothing to do with an economically disadvantage. People are not thieves because they are poor. Its part of a nations moral character and its the govts job to ensure that they teach ethics in their country. In reference to corruption occurring world wide, Africa is not the worst in this area, according to data by Transparency International (check out their website), its the new countries of the Eastern bloc that have the highest level of corruption, but in one of their surveys, everyone agreed Africa is the most corrupt, even the people from the eastern bloc countries. Corruption is a problem in Africa but its also something Africans are unfairly stigmatized against. There a lot of honest people in the continent and corruption is not inherent to African people. I blogged on this topic at: http://rebrandafrica.blogspot.com/2010/09/truth-about-corruption-in-africa.html for anyone that is interested in another perspective on it.

  11. says

    In response to the question about people coming from poor background.It think corruption has nothing to do with an economically disadvantaged background. People are not thieves (corrupt) because they are poor. Its part of a nations moral character and its the govts job to ensure that they teach ethics in their country. In reference to corruption occurring world wide, Africa is not the worst in this area, according to data by Transparency International (check out their website), its the new countries of the Eastern bloc that have the highest level of corruption, but in one of their surveys, everyone agreed Africa is perceived as the most corrupt, even the people from the eastern bloc countries. Africans tend to think they are the most corrupt because that’s what is repeatedly told to them. We need to consider the facts, corruption is a problem in Africa but its also something Africans are unfairly stigmatized against as the most corrupt place in the world. There a lot of honest people in the continent and corruption is not inherent to African people. I blogged on this topic at: http://rebrandafrica.blogspot.com/2010/09/truth-about-corruption-in-africa.html for anyone that is interested in another perspective on it.

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