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Bilanki Andang

RWS 1302

Literary Review
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ABSTRACT

For years and years, the vast majority of the African continent has been an afterthought

to the rest of the world. Whether its sporting competitions or meetings between the biggest

economies in the world, Africa is rarely ever involved in a significant capacity. It is rare that

Africa is even perceived in a positive light in the western media. Even though this perception is

not always justified, most of the time there is more than enough truth to it. These can all be

tied to the inefficiency and corruption of the political leaders of Africa

INTRODUCTION

Despite a plethora of natural resources and countless of the brightest minds in the world,

the majority of the African continent is vastly underdeveloped. Too many sovereign African

states are considered third-world countries despite massive potential. One of the main reasons

for this is the rampant corruption that is omnipresent in most if not all African politics. In truth,

no country in the world is free of corruption, but the levels this practice has achieved in Africa

are astronomical. The continent is infamous for dictator like Idi Amin of Uganda and Muammar

Gaddafi of Libya and those are just the ones that have been popularized by the western media.

If you ask Africans, they will tell you about Ali Bongo, who became President of Gabon after his

father died. They will Tell you about Paul Biya, who has been president of Cameroon since the
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1980s. Since taking over as President, Biya has consistently altered the Cameroonian

constitution in his favor. He has more or less outlawed all other political parties barring his own.

Biya is clearly a dictator posing as a president. Swaziland, a small landlocked country in

Southern Africa, is actually governed by a King! I will be doing a literature review on the political

corruption that has gripped Africa since most countries gained independence in the 1960s. In

this literature review, I will be searching for answers to these four crucial questions:

1. What is the root cause of widespread political corruption in Africa?

2. What role did colonialism play in the current state of African politics?

3. How has political corruption in Africa affected future generations?

4. What steps can Africans take now to erode political corruption?

WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF WIDESPREAD POLITICAL CORRUPTION IN AFRICA?

Our aim here today is to find a solution for corruption in Africa. To do that, we must first

identify the root cause or causes of the situation. When conducting my research, I found that

there is no one reason that can explain the corruption of African politics. The most universally

agreed-upon decision I found was simply money. Income inequality has been a huge problem in

Africa since the days of independence. It is very difficult to escape poverty in most parts of

Africa, as there is really no guarantee that a degree will land you a job. It has become so bad

that many Africans will do absolutely anything for money, often times scoffing at the

consequences. (Uzochukwu M, 2017) To many people, it appears as if government officials are

the only ones capable of making any real money. They are constantly pinching money from
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wherever they can get it, whether it is funds that have been set aside for specific events or even

research grants. Often times, government officials will only embark on projects that are

guaranteed to line their pockets. One of the unwritten rules of modern-day African politics is to

only do the jobs that bring you wealth. Whether the job or project actually benefits the people

seems to be of no concern to African politicians. (Adam M, 2015)

Another reason for rampant corruption of African politics is nepotism. I already gave the

example Gabonese president, Ali Bongo, who is only in power because his father was president

before him. I mentioned the fact that Swaziland is a monarchy, where the king holds absolute

power. The current King of Swaziland also came into power after his father died. This practice is

not only limited to Heads of States. Once in power, African politicians are notorious for giving

high-ranking offices to family members who might not be properly qualified. Jacob Zuma,

president of South Africa gave his 25-year old daughter the position of Chief of Staff. The

president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who also happens to be the longest-

tenured Head of State in Africa recently appointed his son to the Vice-Presidency. African

leaders are giving their family members all the power and spreading their corrupt ideas and

tactics all over the government. In addition, they are taking opportunities away from other

politicians with fresh and new ideas, who might be more capable. William Gumede said it best

(Gumede W, 2012):

Giving jobs to members of the same faction, ethnic group or region means the idea of

merit-based appointments is thrown out of the window. This means that even if the

newly empowered independence movement launched economic development
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programs to transform the colonial economy, such reforms are hardly ever going to

have any impact given that unqualified cronies are managing key public institutions.

Jobless cadres are also forced to seek out the patronage of leaders who have control

over the distribution of the “spoils”. In most cases, cadres critical of the dominant

leaders or policies are likely to be excluded from work in the public and private

sectors.

PRIMARY RESEARCH

Last year, an organization called Afro Barometer conducted a continent-wide survey to

determine how free Africans felt they really were. Surprisingly, a relatively high percentage of

the Africans surveyed believed they had complete political freedom. These were the key

findings according to the survey conductors (Afro Barometer, 2016)

On average across 36 countries, eight in 10 Africans feel at least “somewhat free” to

join any political organization they want, including a majority (58%) who feel

“completely free” to do so. About one in six citizens (17%) say they feel “not very” or

“not at all” free to associate as they wish.  “Complete” freedom of association is a

minority perception in 15 of 36 countries. While more than eight in 10 citizens feel

“completely free” in Senegal (85%), Malawi (85%), Ghana (84%), and Botswana (83%),

fewer than one-third say the same in Algeria (32%), Zimbabwe (30%), Sudan (27%),

Egypt (27%), and Swaziland (7%).  Across 20 countries tracked since 2008/2009, the

perception of “complete” freedom of association has been stable. In six of these

countries, however, this perception declined significantly between 2008 and 2015, led
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by drops of 23 percentage points in Benin and 21 points in Burkina Faso (Figure 2). In

four countries, the proportion of citizens who feel “completely free” increased

significantly: Uganda (by 18 percentage points), South Africa (15 points), Namibia

(14%), and Cape Verde (5 points).  Women are somewhat less likely to feel

“completely free” than men, 55% vs. 60%. The perception of being free increases

modestly with age. 2 For more on the United Nations’ 50th -anniversary celebration of

its two human rights covenants, see: http://freeassembly.net/foaa-at-50/

http://2covenants.ohchr.org/ #FOAAat50  In general, perceived freedom of

association is correlated with higher levels of actual engagement in civic and political

activities.  Freedom of association also goes hand in hand with democracy: Citizens

who feel free to associate also tend to feel free to speak and vote their minds, and to

see their countries as well-functioning democracies.  Despite high perceptions of

freedom of association and its linkages with democracy, one-third (32%) of Africans

“agree” or “agree very strongly” that governments “should be able to ban any

organization that goes against its policies”

I believe the main benefit of the article was the broad number of people they surveyed.

Roughly 54,000 people from almost 40 different countries were asked the survey

question. This gave a survey a great amount of variety. One of the main drawbacks is

that people in many of these countries were either ignorant or simply refused to say

anything that would seem insulting to their respective governments. I mentioned that

Cameroonian president Paul Biya has all but outlawed all political parties, save his own.
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That is why find it hard to believe that 60 percent of Cameroonians believe they are

completely free to join any poli

tical party

of their choosing.

WHAT ROLE DID COLONIALISM PLAY IN THE CURRENT STATE OF AFRICAN POLITICS?
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While identifying the root causes of widespread political corruption in Africa,

there was one explanation that caught my eye in particular. We have every right to talk

about all the bad post-independence African leaders have done and to identify the harm

they have caused their respective countries and the entire continent as a whole. But

let’s look a little deeper. Western leaders love to chastise Africa and blame their poverty

and failure to advance solely on the African people. They seem to forget that the lasting

effects of colonialism deserve to shoulder a fair share of the blame for Africa’s

shortcomings. Europeans came in droves starting in the 15 th century. They carved up the

African continent and divided its vast riches and minerals amongst themselves. They

forced warring tribes who hated each other to live and work together, for little to no

pay, I might add. Additionally, colonialists started taking Africans from their homes and

sending them to the Americas in order to become slaves. They forced their language

and customs on the native people. They gave the Africans in their charge very

rudimentary educations, if any-save for those few who were bright enough to study

abroad. Then when they had neither the power or the money to keep control of their

interests in Africa, they simply left. The Europeans did not bother to teach the Africans

how to take care of themselves after forcing them into centuries of dependence.

Because of this, the majority of African leaders just followed the colonial lead: nepotism,

and greed (Gumede W, 2012). What’s curious to me is that after colonialism, the

brightest African leaders, such as Patrice Lumumba of Congo and Kwame Nkrumah or

Ghana often found themselves either ousted of power, or assassinated. Belgium has
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even admitted to their role in their assassination of Lumumba. It’s almost as if the

western world wants Africa to remain in a chaotic and developmental state.

HOW HAS THE POLITICAL CORRUPTION OF AFRICA AFFECTED THE YOUTH AND FUTURE

GENERATIONS?

Just as the bad habits of colonial leaders have rubbed onto the leaders of post-

independence Africa, it seems to be doing the same thing to the next generation of

Africans. All across the continent, there are people with masters’ degrees that are taxi

drivers, simply because the governments make no effort to create jobs. Because of this,

many African youths grow up thinking government jobs are the only way to make any

real money, and an education won’t necessarily help in the pursuit of wealth.

Additionally, a disturbing amount of Africa’s youth has turned to a life of crime as a way

of getting money. There is also the matter of the diaspora. From a very young age, many

of the continent’s brightest minds are thinking of a way to go study abroad. These are

minds that could be developing the continent, but they see no future there. Who can

really blame them?

WHAT STEPS CAN AFICANS TAKE NOW TO ERODE POLITICAL CORRUPTION?

Now that we understand the causes and the effects of this problem, we must

now work toward finding a solution. One thing I believe the African people absolutely

must do is focus on the development of the youth. As mentioned before, too many of

the continent’s youth believe the only way to become rich is to procure a government

job and begin syphoning funds into their pockets. They have to be made to understand
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that there are other solutions to poverty outside of the government. The African youth

must be taught the values of honesty and true vision. Additionally, more of an effort has

to be made to cater to the youth, in terms of job creation. An unacceptable amount of

recent college graduates are unemployed. This is partially due to the lack of viable

private sector jobs available, which is another problem that must be addressed.

Poverty causes too many Africans to be short sighted, only thinking about the here and

now. Many of Africa’s current leaders started out dirt poor, and as a result, when they

got in office, only catered to their own needs, often leaving their countries in shambles.

Africans must find those people with long-term goals and aspirations for their countries

and put those people in public office. In a generation of Paul Biyas and Robert Mugabes,

Africa needs to find a few Patrice Lumumbas and Nelson Mandelas

CONCLUSION

Africa is the second-largest continent in the world with 55 diverse countries.

There are countless natural resources that are waiting to be developed. There are even

more bright minds ready to soak up knowledge and change the world. Corruption has

plagued this continent since the Europeans first stepped foot on it. Africans and
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Europeans alike must accept responsibility and work together to end corruption and

create a better Africa. We are all on the same planet, so why should we as Americans

look down on Africans, and not want them to prosper? Let us do the right thing. The

road to a better Africa will be long and difficult, but when it’s all said and done, it will be

worth it.
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REFERENCES

 Dionne, Kim Yi. "Only 7 Percent of Citizens in This African Country Feel Free to Join Political

Organizations." The Washington Post. WP Company, 16 Dec. 2016. Web. 03 July 2017.

 Mike, Uzochukw. "Corruption in Africa: Overview, Causes, Effects, and Solutions."

HubPages. HubPages, 06 Apr. 2017. Web. 03 July 2017.

 Woestman, Alexander. "." The Root Causes of Corruption in African Countries —

Alexander's Gas and Oil Connections. Alexander's Gas and Oil Connections, 23 July 2012.

Web. 05 July 2017.

 Adam, Mohammed. "Adam: The Reasons for Corruption in African Countries." Ottawa

Citizen. N.p., 12 Mar. 2015. Web. 05 July 2017.

 International, Anti Corruption. "Youth Political Participation in Africa." Anti Corruption

International. N.p., 23 Mar. 2017. Web. 05 July 2017.

 Norman, Joshua. "The World's Enduring Dictators: Paul Biya, Cameroon." CBS News. CBS

Interactive, 19 June 2011. Web. 05 July 2017.
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