Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Corruption in Modern-Day Africa: A Possible Remedy

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Corruption in Modern-Day Africa: A Possible Remedy

Article excerpt


Terra terram accusat - attributed to Aurelius Ambrosius (ca. 370 CE) in Codex Egberti (980-993 CE)1

Corruption2 is not inherently endemic in any particular society. Corruption has often been cited to be a major cause of stalled social and economic advancement in Africa (Bunting, 2005; Clements et al., 2004). Africa receives frequent lecturing from Europe, USA, Australia and Canada (EUSAC)3 about (among other things) the evil of corruption and the need for transparency (see, for example, Clements et al., 2004; Bunting, 2005; Commission for Africa, 2005; Easterly, 2006). This continual badgering does nothing to address the underlying economic causes of corruption. In particular, African governments are invariably blamed for corruption as a pretext to discontinue or to throttle economic aid to economically-deprived communities in Africa (see, for example, Talbot, 2000; Nelson, 2007).

EUSAC is blatantly hypocritical in its focus on Africa as the pervasiveness of corruption. Recent highly-publicized examples of EUSAC corruption include dossiers on British Aerospace and Saudi Arabia (Anon., 2011), the concessionary financial transactions of former President Wulffof Germany (Dahmann, 2012), and the extraordinary political influence of the News of the World in the UK (Halliday, 2012). The respective EUSAC governments were deeply involved in these publicly-exposed corruption cases. Indeed, corruption is everywhere, especially when there is considerable amount of money at stake. And recently the European Commission, the executive unit of the European Union (EU), an economic and political union of 28 member states primarily located in Europe has finally admitted that there is persistent widespread corruption within the public sector of many of its member states as well as in the Commission itself (European Commission, 2014).

In general, there are two basic forms of corruption. First, there is grand corruption which embodies greed and lust for power by those who already posses considerable wealth and power, and thus, large sums of money is typically involved in triggering grand corruption. And second, there is petty corruption which arises largely from economic necessity among middle ranking government and business officials (Wong, 2012). Hence, there is a continuum between the two forms of corruption which requires the participation of at least two parties. In Africa, the counter-party is often a foreign company which has a profit-driven need to secure contracts for the supply of raw materials such as minerals, petroleum, wood and other natural resources, and/or foreign governments which have certain geopolitical interest, and of course, a local collaborator is often the other party of importance in this arrangement.

During the past few decades, considerable anti-corruption funding has been provided by EUSAC ostensibly, to train African government officials (using well-paid EUSAC contractors) about public administration, governance, transparency, legal statutes, law enforcement, institution building, etc., and thus, the business of anti-corruption training and education has grown to become a thriving industry in the EUSAC.

And to date, EUSAC-sponsored activities have not appeared to have rectified the pervasiveness of corruption appreciably, and to a large extent, the underlying goal of these anti-corruption activities was to re-make Africa economically in the image of EUSAC. Del Bonido (2012) has noted the obvious double standards of the EU in its promotion of democratic principles in Africa south of the Sahara wherein in the EU vision, commercial self-interest trumps any professed democratic principles. Second, major reports issued by the UK (Commission for Africa, 2005) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA, 2008) have provided little or no guidance on an effective means of stemming corruption, and in fact, the Commission for Africa report devoted just two sentences in its comments on the impact of the business of human slavery, missionaries or colonialism in African, although the legacy of brutal colonialism has shaped the present-day dismal socio-economic status of Africa (Cabral, 1966). …

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