Corruption: The Common denominator 

Happy Thursday everyone! I hope you have all been having a blessed week – especially my European counterparts who are experiencing a rare bout of good weather! Enjoy it while it lasts. 

When I did my thesis, even though it was on Zimbabwe, I read a lot of literature on other African countries and how they had developed (or not) – since the gaining of independence. I was really shocked because as much as we know Africa is a huge continent, I was struck by the number of similarities I was finding between countries. These similarities were dominantly in the political realm. Everyone who has been reading my blogs already knows how deeply dysfunctional Zimbabwe is, but I discovered that there are actually a large number of countries (or citizens rather), who are facing the same fate that Zimbabweans are. Aside from colonization (of course), the only other thing these countries had in common was gross and inhumane corruption. Now don’t get me wrong, each and every country in the world has corruption but in other parts of the world, like the Netherlands for example, the corruption that exists does not impede the functioning of the country or the people. Whereas in most of African countries, the beats of corruption and greed take away from the people in the country and leave everyone except an elite few in extremely vulnerable and devastating circumstances. 

I was reading a book on some other African country – I can’t really remember which it was, I think Zambia or Angola and the book explained the percentage of country resources that actually went back into the country. I don’t know why I was surprised to uncover that most of the money goes to the military and financing prestigious expenditures rather than improving healthcare, education or social welfare. But I was. Our leaders preach about escaping the shackles of white imperialism and the dark cloud of colonialism, yet they miss the very obvious solution(s) to advancing the state of all our countries. Yes, we were pillaged by other nations, stripped of our resources and dignity but you tell me, what is so different between what was happening then and what is happening now? Simply the perpetrators have changed. Truly, it hurts a little more now because our leaders are meant to protect us, advance us, and have the interests of each and every citizen in mind but instead they are taking food off citiznes’ tables to line their pockets. It hurts a little more because those nations that stole from us back then did not owe us anything – they saw us as beastly and nothing more. But our leaders…our leaders now fought for liberation so that they could make life better for all of us but have followed squarely in the footsteps of the people they fought and condemned. 

Let me even play devil’s advocate for a second and highlight the fact that our leaders are not even good at corruption. To me – with greed in mind, it would make more sense to invest a little into the country, grow the economy and increase the value of resources within the country because in this instance, you would ideally have more to loot. This seems logical to me, no? I am advocating for corruption but simply highlighting the fact that laying waste to the country is really counter-intuitive to the overall goal of getting rich. Because at some point, without investment or maintenance, things will run out and what happens then? 

“A man who has never gone to school may steal a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.” 

Theodore Roosevelt

Lastly, when I was reading all of this information on the relationship(s) African countries have towards their leaders, I came across a book about Namibia which eerily felt and sounded like Zimbabwe. People were describing potholes on the road, a failed medical system, load-shedding, failing and underfunded government schools, unemployment and so on… And just like in Zimbabwe, the cause of all of these problems could be pinpointed to the corrupt government that is doing a complete and utter incompetency of ruling. What surprised me at first, but no so much as I read on, was the nostalgia everyone had about the colonial regime. It disheartens me to consider this, but I also understand why people would prefer to turn back the hands of time because while we were second class citizens with little to no rights, people had food, healthcare and a modest salary. But now, we are still treated as second class citizens (unless you are part of the elite), with no food, no job prospects, no educational prospects etc. When I say we, I also need to re-iterate the fact that I do not mean myself, I am very much aware of my privilege and my place in society. Although, even though I have never gone hungry and have always had a roof over my head, I do see the struggles of fellow Zimbabweans as mine too. 

So, I guess I am saying two things in this post, the first being that in our contemporary times, corruption, greed and nepotism are our primary problems and we need to address these if things are ever going to improve. The second is that our leaders ought to be ashamed of the mockery they are making of all of us and the states they lead. One of the major justifications of colonialism was that non-white people were not fit to rule which I am sure everyone agrees is a totally absurd and stupid thing to say/assume. But with the way our leaders are doing things right now, it is easy for the hateful to now say, “we told you so.” 

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