A forthcoming survey of Kenyan youth conducted by the East African Institute at Aga Khan University found a startling “integrity deficit.” Half of the respondents believe that how one earns money is irrelevant, and a third said they would readily give or take a bribe. Three-quarters would not report corruption, fearing retribution.
By Michael Meyer, Dean of the Graduate School of Media and Communications at Aga Khan University in Nairobi.
NAIROBI (Jan 7, 2016) – To the chagrin of most Africans, the world has long viewed their continent through the prism of the three “Cs” – conflict, contagion, and corruption.
Yet the first two are anything but general. Civil war is confined mainly to particular regions – for example, South Sudan or the Democratic Republic of Congo. And Ebola in West Africa spread more to Europe and the United States than to the rest of the continent. But the third, corruption, has been universal, blighting almost every country.
… And nowhere is drawing as much attention than Tanzania, where newly elected President John Pombe Magufuli has set a rare standard for leadership.
After visiting a hospital where patients lay in corridors, Magufuli downsized an opulent dinner marking the opening of parliament and spent the money on hospital beds. He also canceled Independence Day celebrations and put the savings into stemming a cholera outbreak. He banned business-class travel and expensive government retreats, sacked allegedly corrupt senior officials, and began streamlining complicated regulations that crooked bureaucrats exploited to extract hefty bribes.
In East Africa, where Twitter is popular, users are pressing their own governments to act with hashtags like #WhatWouldMagufuliDo? That question is most salient in Kenya, the face of a rising Africa – and the continent’s third most corrupt country, according to Transparency International, surpassed only by two near-failed states, Liberia and Sierra Leone
In the last few weeks, Kenyatta, a son of Kenya’s first president, fired a third of his cabinet, in his own words, “to curb rampant corruption.”
… In July, US President Barack Obama signed a pact to help Kenya in its war on corruption. As with bilateral cooperation to fight terrorism, the pact focuses on illicit financial flows, in addition to the recovery of stolen assets. The US has since imposed an entry ban on an unspecified number of public officials. European countries should follow suit, in Kenya and elsewhere.
Most important is ending the culture of impunity. A forthcoming survey of Kenyan youth conducted by the East African Institute at Aga Khan University found a startling “integrity deficit.” Half of the respondents believe that how one earns money is irrelevant, and a third said they would readily give or take a bribe. Three-quarters would not report corruption, fearing retribution.
Changing that mindset is crucial. Corruption will never be wiped out in Africa or anywhere else. But it should be an aberration, not an absolute.
Michael Meyer, a former communications director for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, is Dean of the Graduate School of Media and Communications at Aga Khan University in Nairobi.
- Project Syndicate | Africa’s Growing War On Corruption
- Footprint to Africa | Analysis: African Economies Will Grow Faster If Governments Tackle Corruption
- Transparency International
- Mareeg Media | Africa’s Growing War On Corruption
- Jamaica News Bulletin | Africa’s Growing War On Corruption
- K24 TV – Media Max | World must appreciate Africa’s growing war on corruption
- East African Community
- BBC | How Deep Is Corruption In Africa?
- Wall Street Journal | Why Foreign Aid Is Hurting Africa
The 1970s were an exciting time to be African. Many of our nations had just achieved independence, and with that came a deep sense of dignity, self-respect and hope for the future.
— Excerpt from “Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa
In the African nations of Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Somalia, Mali, Chad, Mauritania and Sierra Leone from 1970 to 2002, over 70% of total government spending came from foreign aid, according to figures from the World Bank.
— Excerpt from “Why Foreign Aid Is Hurting Africa
Corruption is the single biggest threat to Africa’s growth.
Corruption is one of the most formidable challenges to good governance, development and poverty reduction in Africa.
The solution lies in good, ethical leadership, strong and enforceable laws against corruption, severe sanctions for corruption crimes underpinned by a national culture of promoting ethics from family to national level.
— Ali Mufuruki, CEO of Tanzania’s Infotech Investment Group and member of the IMF’s Group on sub-Saharan Africa
Research, Insight & Perspective by A. Maherali