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Monday, 16 April, 2001, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
Bribery and corruption: How prevalent is it?
New corruption allegations have emerged in South Africa as investigations continue into a multi-billion dollar arms deal with European weapons manufacturers.
Over the last few weeks the scandal has engulfed some of South Africa's top politicians.
Opponents of the arms deal have accused the governing African National Congress of accepting bribes and have demanded an independent inquiry into allegations of corruption.
But the ANC has consistently denied any charges of wrongdoing, and has resisted attempts to bring in an independent judicial investigator to examine the deal.
Has corruption eaten so deep in the fabric of African countries that nothing can be done about it? Or is corruption in Africa widely exaggerated?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Madalfa Diallo, USA
The question is: DO WE REALLY CARE FOR ONE ANOTHER?
If the answer were positive, I believe the words bribery and corruption wouldn't even be in our dictionary, certainly then not a topic for talking point, let alone it prevailing to such an extent that it's become a cancer.
It's just too sad. There seems to be no sense of patriotism in any African. It's all about how do I get mine. And previous regimes that looted and bribed their way through should all be punished irrespective of who you are today. To think that in Nigeria today, someone like IBB can do what he did and still resurface with talks of a civilian bid for the presidency shows you the extent of corruption in Nigeria and Africa. Those who voice support of such abominations should simply hang themselves in disgrace.
George Mutua, Kenya
While we are having this debate about corruption in Africa and African governments as a Nigerian I am more concerned about the foot dragging of the British Government concerning Nigeria's stolen money in English banks. Nigerians in the UK need to come together and hold regular demonstrations in London until The British Government do the right thing.
Corruption is prevalent and will not go away until we as Africans change the way we think. I also believe that the Western institutions that have loaned money to African states have exacerbated the situation by supporting the corrupt leaders. In the same breath, it is our responsibility as Africans to see to it that our leaders are held accountable. This presents a highly contentious situation because in Africa those being led are 'traditionally ' supposed to bow to the whims of their leaders. Our leaders are using this, saying that we should stick with 'tradition ' yet on the other had they are embezzling millions.
In Zimbabwe if anyone is said to be doing very well in life definitely it's not honest but has some strong links somewhere with the chiefs. Education is no longer a guarantee to a decent life. The key is corruption.
Rahul Shah, Kenya
Corruption cannot be stopped, it can only be reduced. This is a problem all over the world. In the US, there are efforts to reduce the amount of money in politics. Japan has had its share of top-level corruption cases. Recently, the former German chancellor was on trial for corruption. The problem in Africa is that there are few cases of corrupt officials being brought to justice.
It is far too easy to find blame in socio-economics and politics. In the end it is each individual who makes up the fabric we call Africa, it is each individual who has to
make an obligation to honesty and integrity. I cry for the paradox that is Africa, the most beautiful continent on this earth.
Adelaide Shava, Zimbabwe
Corruption is so rampant in Africa it's almost legal.
From airports to government offices you have to "tip" someone to gets things done.
Many are writing as if there is an agreed definition of corruption. It is certainly not a specifically African problem. Much of the theft of resources that takes places in Africa does so with the blessings or indifference of the donor communities and other foreign powers and corporations.
Corruption (however defined) is clearly a problem for everyone. But it cannot be properly addressed until we are quite sure what it is.
Tejan Fadlu-Deen, United Arab Emirates
Corruption cannot be looked at only in a single context, but rather as a series of socio-economic factors which, together, make up what we lightly refer to as corruption. Remember, also that many counties learned this practice from their colonial masters who were very good teachers. The only drawback is that they are not as adept at concealing their misdeeds.
As a Cameroonian, I can speak with authority on this subject: corruption is endemic. It has reached a point where you feel embarrassed by either not bribing or not being asked to do so.
Hilary Binta Pius, Uganda/ USA
After over thirty years of self-rule for
most African countries, we appear to have
developed a very novel and unique ethic
in governance - excessive self interest.
As long as we do not realise that this will
take us nowhere but will only lead
to decay at all levels and in all sectors
of societies, corruption will triumph. What
Africa needs for starters is to realise
the benefits for everyone of being guided
by an ethic of national interest or at least
some semblance of it.
from the top with
leaders so they can
be awarded business
like a cancer with
from public funds,
as they come to
see the state as
offering the capital
they need to get
into private business,
given the under-
developed nature of
with no meaningful
industries to talk
about. Because of
this lack of
development of most
the state cannot
revenues for its
like public service
salaries. Due to
poor salaries, the
imitate senior public
officials in taking
bribes. The general
this behaviour as
they see the offering
of bribes as the
fastest form of
making public officers
attend to them.
Bonny Ibhawoh, Canada
Corruption in Africa is just like corruption in developed countries many decades ago. The problem with Africa's corruption is that it has deteriorated to the lowest level such that the lowest level worker must be bribed in order to get any service in any government institution. With the high rate of unemployment, Africa could weed out corrupt employees in a month. Just fire a dozen managing directors and ministers plus low-level workers as an example and you will see results.
Corruption is endemic in every country in the world, Africa's problem is worsened by poverty, How does the West expect Africans to believe that they are corrupt yet they are abetting the crime by allowing this money to be kept by banks in their countries?
Corruption in Africa is both a cause and a symptom of poverty on the continent as well as a reflection of the fact that many Africans have little or no sense of obligation to their artificially created countries. Without such a sense of selfless obligation, there is hardly any qualms regarding the pillaging of resources. In my country, Nigeria, for instance, Government resources are regarded as no man's and every man's property. As a result it is hard for embezzlement of government funds, to use an obvious example, to be seen as larceny.
But it is not a hopeless situation. We need to put in place constitutional and judicial safeguards that are replete with punitive provisions and are backed by enforcement. More importantly, we need some form of ethical revolution through which the virtues of hard work and honest reward and the dignity of labour would be entrenched in the continental psyche.
Each new regime in Africa demonises the previous regime and the corruption that was in it. It promises that it will be different. Unfortunately that has never been true so far. With each new regime appears a new sophisticated way of corruption tolerated and sometimes sponsored by men in high governmental positions. This results in people getting extravagantly rich within a few months (not to say overnight) without doing anything different.
There are of course those who start with a genuinely new idea and become rich very quickly. That should be praised and encouraged. But when you see a taxi driver become the owner of a multimillion dollars company overnight you smell something really strange. Because of the involvement of high officials nobody dares to raise questions. When is this going to change?
Corruption in Africa is not exaggerated, it has corroded the fundamental fabrics of the African society, but it can be controlled.
A tough leader with conventionally accepted values could do something about it. That is exactly where we lack. Africa has run out of those.
How does one explain the preponderance of offshore banks - which accept money without questions being asked - that are invariably controlled by Western banking interests?
Unless Western banking institutions stop providing a safe haven for Africa's looted resources, Western governments cannot complain about economic refugees, because we are attempting to move to the West to claim what is rightfully ours.
08 Apr 01 | Africa
SA arms deal scandal widens
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