Perceptions and realities of corruption in Africa

The poorer the country, the more vulnerable are its citizens.Petty corruption annoys the rich and makes life miserable for ordinary people.

According to a survey undertaken by Transparency International, 37 % of Kenyans who had contact with public services admit to having paid a bribe. In many countries police and the courts, institutions which exist to safeguard citizens`s rights, are seen as the most corrupt..


The donor community has provided millions of dollars to governments and civil society to fight corruption, with few positive results.

To fight large-scale and illicit money flows is hard work, time-consuming and sometimes dangerous.

As long as rich countries provide safe heavens for looted money and loopholes for companies cheating national tax-systems, they function as enablers for problems other representatives of rich countries say they want to fight. It is also discouraging to note that the best lawyers and accountants in the world so willingly help with illicit money flow.

One cannot expect the beneficiaries of corruption to engage in efforts to stop corruption. As long as it benefits both the giver and the taker, corruption will continue.

Any private company being tempted to speed up processes by paying a bribe is easily caught in vicious circle. Once you start, there is no end.

Sometimes the reports on corruption are exaggerated. I don’t always trust the perception reports about corruption. I believe there is some “overreporting”. In Zambia there is a tradition that politicians continually accuse each other for corruption, without having to substantiate their claims.

A culture of allegations has developed.The general perception is therefore that there is corruption all over.

One example is when the former president of Zambia Kenneth Kaunda lost the election, his successor accused him of having $60 billion in Swiss banks. Six Scotland Yard detectives were brought in to investigate. They found nothing.

Rwanda has chosen another development course. The country has achieved impressive results, including reduction of corruption. The government has decided to restore some of the indigenous values and institutions. The system is based upon a centralized and authoritarian government, but with considerable freedom to the lower level of the hierarchy with some of the old systems of checks and balances being reintroduced.


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