After colonialism, different people followed the evil practices of exploiting government for their personal gains just like the colonial leaders used to use state resources to build their home countries. During these colonial times, people in African countries fought together as collective units for their countries. Nowadays, the collectivism has effectively disappeared and has been replaced by individualism, nepotism and the mentality of “every man for himself”, which disadvantage the poor, the unemployed, and fail to take into consideration the youth and disabled people or people in rural areas.
Corruption originates from these kinds of mentalities. African leaders have these mentalities; they ignore the mases, their voices, their needs and focus solely on themselves.
During the colonial struggle, a lot of people were killed and despite the sacrifices made by many citizens for their countries, most African leaders feels that they are more entitled to different resources and privileges than their compatriot, so they refuse to recognize corruption as inappropriate or as a crime, they mostly take what they want, from whoever they want, without considering who suffers the most from this practice. But war in Africa was not fought by these individuals but by collective units, groups organized in unity, with a sense of belonging, a feeling of togetherness, nationalism and nationhood, this is what won Africans the war against the European whites.
Julius Nyerere greatly questioned the benefits of independence of the African states, and if the people would be able to enjoy the true benefits of independence if corruption was allowed to continue. He was afraid that confidence in the government, including the very foundation of justice which will be shuttered if corruption is/was not confronted in all diversity.
Decades since these leaders emphasized on these issues, fears of both Nyerere and Nkrumah who cited corruption as a vice that risked gravely harming millions in Africa striving for freedom and justice, has been realized. The African leaders have since exploited the institutions and government agencies and the public resources at their disposals after being drafted into offices after independence.
Nyerere and Nkrumah’s fears have been integrated into the very social, political and the economic systems that are being used in our societies, communities, and countries. The practices of nepotism, patronage, and paternalism have been employed to secure and maintain control of resources and material benefits for African leaders.
Corruption in Africa is not a carbuncle on the body politics, but a virus in its bloodstream. If we are to remove corruption, we will have to threaten the state itself and this should include the state actors and everyone involved, as the state now act as a lubricant to an otherwise static and inefficient bureaucracy.
Corruption kills more than warfare; it takes land and money to build a hospital and buys a private jet. And the consequences are that, from that poverty pool lie the next genius to lead Africa out of this morass; the next Malcolm X, the cure for cancer, the woman/man who will make cars run on air. Many African countries have made considerable efforts to reduce, but so far they have not made any progress, this is because corruption in Africa starts from the top officials, the very same people always preaching about, Harambee, Ubuntu, Ujamaa, and many other ideologies mostly aimed at blinding people and excuses of making people believe the system is all good!
Angola’s president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, has been accused of creating one of the most corrupt ruling environments in Africa by ignoring the everyday needs and concerns of citizens and focusing, instead, on accumulating a massive fortune for himself and his family and crushing all political opposition. Zuma’s tortured journey to the top of South African politics began when he was made deputy president under Thabo Mbeki. Since then, he has been accused of murder, rape, bribery, fraud just to mention but a few.
Mugabe and Zanu-PF’s government is like Gangsters and Mafia’s operations. The only difference between Zanu PF and the mafia or the yakuza groups is that the latter are illicit organizations operating on the fringes of the formal system.
Meanwhile Namibian politics is filled with selfish and greedy people, who think of no one else other than themselves even the people they lead. Political appointments are made, dependent on the political loyalties of the candidate or perhaps on the basis of favor the appointee owe to the candidate.
Leadership should never be according to who shouts the loudest, duress, or who can make the best speeches. There is the face of power, and behind that those who have the best insight, and have a track record and the skills to best get results should be speedily selected. Real leaders do not prey and play to the passions and prejudices of the people they serve. They instruct them in ways which foster their development and enhance the quality of their lives. The new leaders that will cure AIDS, which will put a man on Mars are lost to mismanagement and corruption. And that is a sin against humanity to have tools for liberation but chose not to engage them.
Some blind supporters especially in Africa are blinded by their leader’s intention and little from a bigger portion that he/she gives them. But in a continent where 70% access 7 percent of the national wealth, as an example, would an 8% increase in 8 years really be written down as an acceptable improvement?
If the government has built two houses, where it had the potential to have built 1000 (based on your natural resources and human potential) is called “progress” then we seriously need to ask what this progress is being measured against! 2% and 5% increase in prosperity in 1% of the population in the richest continent on Earth is certainly not “good leadership”.