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Day April 9, 2015

WE CANNOT DEFINE CORRUPTION IN THE SAME WAY AS BAZUNGU!


By Hannah Ogwapiti

The tendency in the West is to see Africa as being congenitally corrupt, and being afflicted by a pathology of corruption, a pathology that is responsible for Africa’s familiar problems. To pathologize the problem of corruption in Africa is to supply fodder for racists and those who see nothing good in Africa, those who say Africans are by their nature prone to self-destruction and point to “endemic” corruption as an example.

To get away from this pathologized understanding and come to a better delineated, more specific, and thus more insightful understanding of corruption and its moral consequences in Africa, it is not helpful to cite all instances of everyday corruption (police checkpoint bribe-taking, petting extortion in a government office, airport shenanigans, and other petty, quotidian acts of corruption) in the same frame as big figure political corruption, or to lump all of them together. It is helpful to explain them as belonging to a single tapestry of corruption in Africa or as equally destructive to Africa’s development prospects.

The approach I favor and argue for is one that:

1. Recognizes that quotidian corruption and political corruption feed off of each other and coexist symbiotically. No need to belabor this.

2. Political corruption, by sheer volume and amounts involved, exacts a greater moral damage in Africa than quotidian corruption.

3. Political corruption (big ticket graft perpetrated by politicians and high level bureaucrats) is directly responsible for scuttling social and infrastructure projects like schools, hospitals, roads, electricity. It is therefore directly responsible for the death, poverty, and suffering of Africans. Quotidian corruption has at best an indirect culpability in these moral consequences.

4. Political corruption is responsible for the huge capital flight out of the country, the illicit export of money out of African economies. For the most part, the result of quotidian corruption is the transfer and re-transfer of money between individuals and nodes within the domestic economy.

Besides, I think that, when it comes to Africa, one should clear some space for how African conceptions of politics and the political economy of citizen expectation, client-patron relations, and normative obligations of African big manhood/womanhood allows and permits some use of state resources for informally meeting the needs of constituents. Because this kind of political expenditure is often unbudgeted and unaccounted, it is technically corruption. But if the amount is small (as opposed to frittering away or diverting for personal use an entire budget or parts thereof) and it is deployed to what Nigerians euphemistically call “empowerment” people do not mind and do not see it as corruption even though in the lexicon of modern governmentality it is graft. Even if they see it as graft, they may not see it as negative or destruction corruption in the same vein as other acts of corruption that benefit the corrupt individual and his/her family and friends.

I think, for many Africans, political corruption occurs when a politician or high level bureaucrat inflates contracts, takes kickbacks, or diverts public funds to personal use. It is also a question of volume. A politician who uses the discretionary budgetary or extra budgetary powers of his office to allocate $50,000 to provide scholarships to youths in his constituency is technically corrupt since this falls outside his official remit, lacks oversight, and may not even have followed proper budgetary or bureaucratic procedure. But citizens in many African countries may not see this as corruption or at least may not see it as belonging in the same category of vice and graft as the case of a politician who embezzles $1 million from the schools or hospital budget and transfers it to a Swiss or Dubai bank.

In other words, Africans have a nuanced, complex understanding of and vocabulary for designating corruption. It is only fair that as scholars our language for talking about corruption in Africa displays some fidelity to this nuanced distinctions in Africans’ relationship with and understanding of corruption. We cannot use a Western frame to analyze corruption in Africa.

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UGANDA MAY GO VIOLENT IF M7 STANDS AGAIN IN 2016


By Mayimuna Nabagereka

If M7 stands for elections as he is going to, we are likely to see some form of violence or rebel groups starting up because people have lost faith in the elections.It is not a joke,Jerry Rawlings twice took power by force and in one of the revolution some mafisadis had to pay price by facing a shooting squad, and yes why do people feel this cannot happen in Uganda and we are immune? it may not take the Ghana way but it can take the form of anarchy …small gangs like Panya road, daytime robberies, people loosing faith, shooting politicians and NRM cadres, etc etc and yes the looting class also forgetting itself.

I am basically responding to those who think violence is not another way of resolving political tensions, and yes sometimes steer countries in a road of prosperity.

Castro and Che used violence to get rid of the Batista, Capitalism itself has its foundation on violence, the enclosure movement if people think was a peaceful means well that is a problem, only that this was the bourgeoisie against the other classes.

History have a number of cases to show. Violence may not be a way to go for Uganda– we still have institutions to take care of some of the cases we have, but if we start loosing faith even in such institutions, anarchy and yes we may go the French way of 1789, let us not underestimate what inequality or any other form of injustices can at the end of the day bring in our country.

People are tired of Museveni but they don’t know what to do. He has frustrated Ugandans in every way possible available to remove him from power. So, lets watch out for violence before or after 2016 elections.

WHY I ADMIRE PRESIDENT KAGAME


By Mayimuna Nabagereka

Because he delivers and because he does not lose sight of the prize! Another thing I admire him for is because he started from scratch and built the country up to where it is receiving international recognition. He is a realist! He started with what was in hand – the resources, the knowledge and here I mean indigenous knowledge, and then made sure every citizen knew that they had to work hard and that everybody’s effort and commitment counts! He made sure everybody bought into this vision! Once the top leadership instills a sense of urgency, focus, discipline, action and accountability (consequences) everything else can and will fall into place. He is very smart; he makes sure development in one area leads to or propels development in another area. Simple logic but somehow not so logical in some circles I am afraid.I was reading somewhere that Rwanda is currently averaging a growth rate of about 7%…that is the same as TZ at the moment, no?This from a country that literally fell to the ground just over 20 years ago.

Ugandans, on the other hand, are stuck with a useless president who now wants to buy another chopper for himself. Please God help us!

President Kagame makes it his business to be involved. He is like ‘Big Brother’! Trust him to know everything that is going on and to do something about it. I once attended an international conference on performance-based financing in health care and the Presenter from Rwanda told us how he, President Kagame, reviews quarterly reports from dispensary level all the way up. Now, one might find this similar to going into the kitchen, but he is sending a message. He had to occupy the driver’s seat to set the tone and direction. Long live Kagame!

Anyways, enough said… He does fall short in terms of human rights violations and others but that is another subject altogether.

OK, M7 AND NRM ARE CORRUPT BUT HOW DO WE FIGHT CORRUPTION AS UGANDANS?


By Mayimuna Nabagereka

Corruption in Uganda, and indeed, in other African countries, is an institutional problem–it is a problem exacerbated by the existence of weak and dysfunctional institutions. No one individual, president or otherwise, and no matter how much power that person is granted, can deal effectively with corruption, unless he or she begins by bringing together all relevant stakeholder groups in the country to reconstruct the state and provide the country with institutional arrangements that adequately constrain state custodians (i.e., civil servants and political elites).

If anyone on this forum is really interested in minimizing corruption in Uganda and creating a new foundation on which the country can build a new nation characterized by peaceful coexistence, rapid creation of the wealth needed to fight poverty and improve national living conditions, including those of heretofore marginalized groups and communities, that person should recognize the role played by the country’s dysfunctional institutions in the perpetuation of a corrupt and/or “chop” mentality in the country.

Such an individual might begin by reading Jean-François Bayart’s L’état en Afrique: la politique du ventre (1989). I believe there is an English translation: The State In Africa: The Politics of the Belly (1993). Also La criminalisation de l’état en Afrique (Jean-François Bayart, Stephen Ellis & Béatrice Hibou eds., 1997). I believe there is an English translation–The Criminalization of the State in Africa (1999). Reading these materials should help the reader recognize the importance of institutions to corruption. If he or she is still not convinced, then read the following: John Mukum Mbaku, Corruption in Africa: Causes, Consequences, and Cleanups (2010). The key point brought out by all this research is that: unconstrained power can turn even a saint into a despotic and uncontrollable tyrant. That’s why Uganda has a got a dictator in M7 who claims that all money belongs to him.

The impact of corruption on the lives of Africans is often understated and not overstated. As one who has not only researched and written about corruption, but one who has been affected by corruption, I can tell you that corruption is probably one of the most important constraints to human development in Africa. A lot of issues in Africa, such as destructive mobilization by ethnic and religious groups that are marginalized by the ruling regime and pushed to the political and economic periphery, often have their origins and foundations in the corrupt practices of the civil servants and political elites who rule the country.

Civil service pay has very little to do with corruption. Some of the highest paid civil servants and politicians in Africa are also among the most corrupt. In fact, in studies of corruption in Nigeria and Cameroon, scholars determined that the most corrupt civil servants in these countries were actually among the highest paid public workers in the country. You may want to read Gould and Mukendi’s piece on corruption in Zaire/DRC. It is quite illuminating. D. J. Gould and T. B. Mukendi (1989), “Bureaucratic Corruption in Africa: Causes, Consequences and Remedies,” International Journal of Public Administration, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp, 427-457.

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