Corruption: An incurable disease which has weakened Africa’s economic and industrial infrastructures

Corruption, the abuse of public resources to enrich, is a problem clearly everywhere globally. Like an incurable disease, corruption has affected economic and industrial infrastructures, continuing setting back developments in many places, including Africa, Asia and South America.

What are the causes leading to rampant corruption? People’s imperfection, selfish tendencies, poverty and greed are some of the causes which have plagued the world with corruption without end.

The mere mention of corruption quickly brings Africa, Asia or collectively Third World Countries into the picture, but corruption is now common in developed countries as well. It’s true that corruption has dented and retarded Africa’s development than ever imagined. It exists in many forms such as money paid in return for special treatment or to be given access to something, paying bribe to be awarded a contract, paying bribe to deny one justice and many others.

Where corruption is very severe in Africa is in politics, immigration, the police force and the customs. I can remember vividly in the eighties, travelling by bus from Accra-Ghana, to Abidjan-Ivory Coast, among other passengers, the constant demanding of bribe by immigration officers at every checkpoint, in the territory of Ivory Coast, rendered me penniless. When I finally reached the capital, I had no money to continue my journey to Dabou, a town at the outskirts of Abidjan, where I was going.

That’s that cruelty, ugliness and impact of corruption in Africa. Poor salary and living conditions of government officials have increased corruption in Africa. Passport doesn’t mean anything to immigration officers, as they demand money from travellers before crossing barriers. Every government knows this sort of thing is going on at checkpoints but nobody does anything about it. Woe betide you if you tell an immigration officer in Africa, especially, Ivory Coast, Togo and Nigeria that you have no money to give as bribe.

A job applicant must pay before employed, shoddy work is done and money pocketed. In politics, politicians can’t identify areas that need attention; they join the ring of dishonest people enriching themselves. Instead of investing into education in Africa, they send their families to study overseas, while they empty the government coffers and keep the money at Swiss Banks. The police instead of impounding dangerous and vehicles without insurance, take bribe and leave the drivers plying on the roads. Corruption is so severe in Africa to the extent that it has affected the educational, health and economic infrastructures.

In 2005, five Ghanaian journalists who returned from Switzerland, investigations revealed that about 400 African Leaders including Nigerians and Ghanaians have deposited huge sums of stolen money into Swiss Banks. The investigations further revealed that the leaders used the names of their children, friends, relatives and even bodyguards to open such accounts. The insatiable appetite for money and greed has increased corruption like a wild fire in the dry season.

The Trend of corruption in developed Countries

Many think corruption is a problem which occurs in poverty stricken or Third World Countries only but that’s not true. It’s now a national phenomenon. The political scandal of corruption involving Silvio Belusconi has dented the image of Italian politics. According sources activities of the mafia is hard to overcome because many of the mafia bosses bribe the police. Tax evasion is another means of corruption which involves politicians and rich people. Football matches are fixed and referees accept bribes to favour certain teams. That’s the way corruption keeps spreading because money is everything.

Corruption remains one of the biggest challenges in European societies, including Britain. Even though the corruption takes place in different forms it harms the EU as a whole by lowering investment levels, hampering the fair operation of the Internal Market and reducing public finances. According to the European Commission the economic costs incurred by corruption in the EU possibly amount to EUR 120 billion per year.

Can corruption ever be eradicated? “There’s enough for everybody’s need and not for any body’s greed, “said Mahatma Ghandi. Since greed is part of people’s life and poverty continues to put people in bad situation, corruption will always occur in the political, economic, administrative and in judiciary sectors, which in the course of the time its effects are massive and devastating.

Corruption as a matter of fact can’t disappear on its own but there are measures which could reduce or control it. Europe and America have effective measures of fighting against corruption but Africa and other places still haven’t found solutions yet. The only effective way to reduce corruption is the Swiss Banks refusing stolen money from Third World Countries to be deposited into accounts. That’s what Switzerland is not prepared to do because money deposited into accounts is given out as loans and they get interests on them

Former head of state of Nigeria, the greedy late Sani Abacha, stole 4.3 billion dollars while in office to Switzerland. After he died, his wife was caught trying to leave the country with 38 suitcases stuffed with cash. The Nigerian government tried to recover $4bn deposited in Switzerland and in 2006; the Swiss authorities returned $500m to Nigeria. In history this is the first time European banks had returned looted money to an African country.

Corruption cartoon of a police boss by Basati via Somalilandsun.

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