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CORRUPTION: The Need To Strengthen Our Enforcement Agencies


Corruption has been in existence since time immemorial. However, over the past fifty (50) years, especially after the attainment of Independence for many African countries, it has reached an alarming level! If care is not taken to put proper checks in place, Africa will continue to wallow in poverty. Most countries around the world experience some level of corruption, but in Africa, it can simply be described as outrageous. You have a Member of Parliament or a minister siphoning money and other resources, meant for the provision of portable drinking water, accommodation and food, to his foreign account without even thinking twice. When investigations are done and the culprit found guilty, then the long bureaucracy sets in.  You find many people, mainly in the ruling party, backing the culprit and playing all sorts of delay tactics with the case and its procedure.

Many institutions have been put up to check cases of corruption as well as the legal instruments to make their work possible. However, the greatest challenge we face as a continent is on law enforcement. You can have the best of laws available and the institutions to apply them, but as long as the human beings running them are easily compromised, you will certainly not make any headway in solving the crisis! It is like having the best architect to plan your building, however well-schemed the building is, if you don't have the requisite people with the necessary tools to carry it out. It will only remain a mirage, or to put it better 'just a plan on paper'.

Politicians have taken us for granted for so long! They easily forget how discerning the electorates are and after some time in office they begin to show arrogance, impunity and abuse their incumbency. In Ghana we operate with a unitary system of government, hence if there is a shift in power we experience a phenomenon of 'winner takes it all'. It sometimes leads to the abuse of incumbency, since a simple majority vote gets bills passed and contracts signed, regardless of whether it is at the benefit of the nation or otherwise. An example of this is when the majority of Parliamentarians also have their presidential candidate as president or when a member of the ruling party is found guilty of corruption, the incumbent government tends to 'shield their own'. 

One case that has remained unresolved to this day is that of a Judgement Debt wrongfully paid to the financier of the then incumbent political party. After so many years of haggling and protracted court dates, he was finally asked to refund the money wrongfully paid to him. He has shown no remorse of his action and has not yet paid a dime of the whooping amount - over $10 million dollars (GH¢51.2 million)! The Attorney General, who during his tenure in office, approved such a payment is alleged to have had a share of the loot along with many other prominent people in the same party. We as citizens had to organize a series of demonstrations and press conferences to drum home our demand to see justice served. We still keep our fingers crossed, keeping in mind that that tax-payer's money is safely returned to the national coffers.

I was marveled when recently the South Korean president was impeached according to the laws of their land for using her office to compel corporate organizations to donate to the charity organizations owned by her close friend whom she has known for close to over forty years now. When I saw the news, I simply smiled and asked if this could have ever happened in any part of Africa? Everyday more institutions are being set up and legal instruments enacted. But as long as we don't focus and challenge our mindset on issues of enforcement and needless interference for them to work, then we surely have a long way to go.


Abdallah Issah
Ghana

Posted by ITY AFRICA

CORRUPTION: The Need To Strengthen Our Enforcement Agencies

Corruption in Malawi: The "Hot Chick" in Town!

Photo Credit: SABC News
It is unfortunate that corruption has become a serious problem among many countries in Africa. It's even worse that the corrupt practices are usually associated with the swindling of public resources by some state officials. What makes it unimaginable is that the resources being misused are the resources that are meant to benefit a greater community of those people who really need such resources for their daily survival.

In Malawi, corruption has gone way too far! So much so that the future of economic development in Malawi is just too hazy. Considering that Malawi was rated  the poorest country  in Africa by World Bank rankings (2015), shows we have a huge problem that seriously needs to be addressed otherwise it will be hard to call Malawi a developing country - rather it is an non-developing country. Statistics from Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index show that Malawi is rated 31%. This tells a huge story about how, out of all the activities that involve money, 69% are through corrupt practice. Building our argument on this premise, we can narrow it down to say out of all the government expenditures that are done, day in day out, 3 out of 10 activities are clean activities.  It is hard then to realize a change in some of the negative situations that are affecting the citizens of Malawi.

Looking at the bigger picture, one would conclude to say that some of the socioeconomic challenges that Malawi is facing are largely as a result of corruption. Recently there has been the famous “maize gate” where just a few individuals accumulated wealth over a situation that is already dire.  The people of Malawi stay hungry and instead of doing something to solve that undesirable situation, some people are coming in to take away that which the majority values a lot. 

I wonder whether the term “humanity” does exist in our societies today. Why all these cases of corruption? Will they ever come to an end really? Efforts have been put in place, yes and that can be seen through the election of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), another entity which is controversial in my view. Because you would not expect to kill a rat which has found its way to walk on the edges of your plasma. Even if it chooses to stay there longer, you would not dare to kill it. The only moment you can attempt to kill it its only when it has left your plasma. Similarly the ACB director is appointed by the reigning president and its hard for the ACB operations to work against such a reigning government! And so the existence of such bodies remains nonfunctional insofar as tackling corrupt practices, especially where members of the current ruling party are involved, is concerned. 

However, people should not give up this “tough fight”. There still is a need to work tirelessly towards reducing and eliminating this “hot chick” in town that is forcing many people into believing that corruption is part of life anyway. As young people, we need to aim higher and fight our way through to occupying decision making positions which will give us our most wanted opportunity to influence some of the decisions. This is something that will, in a way, condemn this animal for the majority’s sake.  Yes, in Malawi and many African countries, for one to be voted into power they need financial muscle to defeat the Big "Recycled Politicians". This should not be a draw back. Gone are the days when the youth could not say anything on the global or whatever platform of public significance. Now we know we have the voice and that we can speak against any objectionable act and so we must!


About The Author

Thokozani A. Chiwandira Chimasula
Malawi
Thokozani is an entrepreneur (farming) and also a corresponding youth activist from Malawi. Based on her experiences, growing up as a woman in Malawi, her activism is focused on Gender Equality, Social Inclusion and Youth Empowerment. 





The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of IGNITE THE YOUTH are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the entire society of IGNITE THE YOUTH.

Posted by ITY AFRICA

Corruption in Malawi: The "Hot Chick" in Town!

The Rotten Windfall

Photo Credit: Reuters 2015
The rotten windfall we all scorn but don’t want to throw away...
We have all at some point moaned against corruption. According to a 2016 article by The Guardian, corruption robs Africa of US$50bn annually. I don’t know how much every single country contributes to this leaked bucket, but I’m certain my country has a substantial allotment pouring into it. Corruption has so many evils. Rightly, we ought to be past the stage of such discourses because the phenomenon is no longer alien. The question we should be attempting now is: why is fraud and embezzlement in public offices still towering debates on the continent at a time everyone claims to be corruption’s sworn enemy?  

The most important perspective to the response lies in the question itself. It makes corruption appear as a phenomenon that is projected onto Africa by some alien forces bent to rid the continent of its citizens. Corruption has been othered in our discourses. When governments, Civil Society Organizations, politicians and ordinary citizens sit and debate on corruption, they all want to look in the other direction. Nobody wants to grab a mirror to check what is under their very nose. We don’t want to think that we sometimes do practice or encourage corruption.   

I have boarded minibuses where after being impounded by traffic police, I have worried about the driver’s insistence that he isn’t on the wrong instead of just bribing an officer to let us go. I have been bypassed on queues at college cafeterias by friends well-known to service providers. Friends have testified about how being connected has helped them get assistance earlier than first-comers in hospitals. I have heard of friends who have been employed way before interviews simply because the boss is their dad’s friend or relative. Or worse, comes from the same village as them. After that, we all praise each other, and hail how warm-hearted we are. 

Interestingly, when we want to talk about corruption, we will think of our governments first-and no one else thereafter. That is like slamming your son after catching him ravening a rotten fruit when that has always been your survival ploy every time you are hungry and away from home. The politicians plundering our economies are products of our society. They do not just become thieves overnight. We see them rise and we praise their small shady deals. Until they are too big and can no longer steal from the same pot as ours. 

Then, tails between legs, we start barking. A little too late. The politicians are as corrupt as ourselves. Just that we do not have access to what they plunder. That is why everyone is talking about overhauling our government and political systems but nobody is willing to execute the plan once they get into power. 

There was a time during the 2014 Malawi General Election campaign when the incumbent president travelled around promising to make the Anti-Corruption Bureau as independent from the presidency as possible once voted into power for example. When he won, and there were calls for the body to be made independent, he shrugged his shoulders. A bill to have the ACB seceded from the Executive arm of the government never passed in parliament. Ironically, the president went to the public and lambasted the opposition, bragging he wasn’t letting the ACB go. 

Of course I understand the president. I would do the same if I were him. Here is the reason. Our politics is fuelling resistance to change because of its power-hungry nature. If the president would make the mistake of giving away some of his powers, he fears he would be dead and buried. And that is true. Unfortunately. Independence has cursed the continent with politicians who are determined to do all it takes just to unseat an incumbent regime. They will use all techniques to make a country ungovernable. The aim is for them to be at the helm. It is not about the voter-or the farmer they mention in their daily discourse in the media. Such politics of greed and lust for power are creating mistrust in the people’s desire to unite and combat corruption. 

We are always afraid we will be used. By the opposition. By the government. By CSOs. The feeling is ‘everyone has pocketed something to do this.’ Why bother? This is why corruption is far from over. We are always bribing others, being bribed, in our different fields-however small. With that, we have normalized the phenomena. It isn’t a crime to be corrupt. Provided you do not fall prey to an antagonizing political set-up, you are okay. 

When scams are reported, we all joke about it on Facebook, point fingers to others and call them names for voting thieves into power. This also contributes to the disunity among the masses in combating the conundrum. If, for instance, instead of asking me on the way forward first, a friend hurls insults at me for electing thieves, will I listen to what he will say afterwards? I shall be forced into defense-and I will defend my reasoning with all my might.   

There are many ways we can defeat corruption and they aren’t new. They range from revolutionizing the political systems to the government systems-with a focus on law. Empower graft-busting bodies through legislations that divorce them from politicians. Everyone wishing their country and future well must join in the lobbying. But we need to re-emphasize change of the self first. We are the people who vote for the politicians -and the politicians who are voted by the people. The relationship between stakeholders in the fight against corruption must also be reworked so that there is trust between the people, the government, the CSOs and the different political groupings. We must all look at each other as enemies against corruption so that when we protest, it must be out of sincerity.


About The Author

Beaton Galafa
Malawi
Beaton is a youth activist from Malawi and his key concern is bad governance in his country. He is active in speaking out against corruption, nepotism and poor policies, also dedicating a lot of his effort to rallying for improved youth participation in politics.









The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of IGNITE THE YOUTH are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the entire society of IGNITE THE YOUTH.

Posted by ITY AFRICA

The Rotten Windfall

#IgniteConvo - Public Sector Corruption

The highlights of our Tweet Chat with Mr. Gerald Witherspoon on "Public Sector Corruption in Africa". In case you missed our discussion on Twitter, here are the highlights of the conversation!

Posted by ITY AFRICA

#IgniteConvo - Public Sector Corruption

Akinte R Abiodun (Nigeria) - African Youth Role Model Series

Akinte Raphael Abiodun
From Nigeria hails one inspirational orator, who dedicates his life and work to the development of people’s individual capacities. Akinte Raphael Abiodun serves his immediate community through his passion for helping people to develop themselves and is a change-maker focused on breathing a new truth into the lives he has the opportunity to connect with.  In line with his priorities as a Human Resource Professional, Akinte is an astute learning and development specialist in Nigeria, known for his illustrious track record in community outreach and activism for children and youth. Apart from these obligations, Akinte also features as a political analyst and philanthropist, for which he contributes to homegrown youth initiatives such as the “Youth Campaign Against Local Terrorism & Violence” (YouCALT).

YouCALT Team on #GiftAChildASmile Expedition
YouCALT is a Non-Governmental Organisation founded by Akinte and his colleagues to campaign against all forms of violence in their local community. The NGO lends a special focus to violence perpetrated against women, having campaigned against domestic violence and the prevalence of ‘Jungle Justice’. Akinte has made a long-standing contribution to the group’s activities as a selfless volunteer, most notably with one of his flagship projects being the “Gift A Child A Smile” campaign. The project is an ongoing venture in which Akinte and his colleagues voluntarily select a community with underprivileged or neglected children and spend time engaging with them or delivering donations. Their humble but vital donations are scraped from their own pockets, not to mention their own time. Their most recent expedition was the third in an ongoing series, which saw the YouCALT team visit Makoko (a slum neighbourhood in Lagos). As Akinte reflects on the experience: 

“The theme was Make Makoko Smile (MMS) ....and that we did successfully. We broke language barriers and the community's physical cum psychological constraints to put smiles on the faces of the kids.”

Akinte’s Philosophy for Africa
Akinte Raphael Abiodun is an Alumnus of Ignite The Youth, having participated as an African Youth Activist of the network in 2014. He was an esteemed orator, most lauded for his catchy video speeches in which he called on all youth in Africa to secure their generation. His philosophy for African Youth was one which encouraged the youth to begin to take responsibility for their immediate surroundings, one which urged for maximum participation in the socio-economic and political aspects of the community and country at large. He advocated for young people to conduct themselves with honour and not to blame their circumstances, emphasizing that the agency to elevate themselves was always within them. Read his article “Not My Fault, But Could be My Fault” to grasp his views on youth participation and responsibility. For one who remains loyal to the mission to “Secure Our Generation”, Akinte is an exemplary figure for many young people in his country and abroad!   

Watch Akinte Speak Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mriZuyxZub4






Posted by ITY AFRICA

Akinte R Abiodun (Nigeria) - African Youth Role Model Series

Bisharo Ali Hussein (Somalia) - African Youth Role Model Series

Bisharo Ali Hussein
Bisharo Ali Hussein is a Kenyan-Somali activist and outspoken champion for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in Somalia. She channels her activism through her career as a Protection Officer for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Galkayo, Somalia and also served as an African Youth Activist of Ignite The Youth from 2015 to 2016. As an Ignite The Youth activist she shared on the youth experiences of conflict in her country and “Ensuring Access to Education for all”. Her most spirited campaigns however were part of her Women’s Rights agenda; which focused on demanding an end to Female Genital Mutilation and early marriage, and her advocacy for Gender Equality; arguing for gender-biased inheritance laws to change. Bisharo is currently pursuing her Postgraduate Diploma in ‘International Gender Studies’ at the University of Iceland.

Almost 2 years after serving as a corresponding activist for Ignite The Youth, Bisharo insists that Somali women remain one of the most vulnerable groups in the country. “Although some progress has been made to improve women’s participation in all sectors, there is still a need for more improvement. Women should be given full opportunities to participate in politics, join labor markets to gain skills and experience which will eventually lead to sustainable development and economic growth in Somalia.” Despite attracting mixed reactions for her activism, especially on issues of gender equality and early marriage, Bisharo remains resolute in her advocacy for women and active humanitarian engagement.


Bisharo’s message for girls and young women in Africa:

Girls, 

This is your time, this is your life and you are the only one who can decide what you want out of it. I remember when  I was young, I always wondered if I would ever make it to where I am but trust me through my guts and risking it all to pursue my education, I was able to strive and survive against all the odds. I believed in myself and my capabilities, you should also do the same.

Know that the obstacles you are facing now or will face in future are just temporary. Try to overcome them and focus on your goals and ambitions. You can be whoever or whatever you aspire to be. All you need to do is to focus on your education, which may eventually lead you out of the poverty cycle. Education is power and will transform you in ways you may never imagine. Be positive and optimistic about life! Be patient and do your part, the rest will fall into place. Otherwise, I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. I believe in you and the world also believes in you!


Your beloved sister .

Bisharo Ali.



Read Bisharo's Articles for Ignite The Youth here:










Posted by ITY AFRICA

Bisharo Ali Hussein (Somalia) - African Youth Role Model Series