Irresponsibility, corruption have become the bane of Africa – Vernon Mwaanga

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Vernon Mwaanga

VETERAN politician Vernon Mwaanga says lack of accountability
and corruption have become the bane of Africa.

And Mwaanga says it is common to see African leaders assume
power as paupers and accumulate so much wealth with their
families and cronies within a short time.

He stated in a statement yesterday that lack of accountability
and corruption had sapped the very fibre of society.

“What has gone wrong with our continent? I cannot claim to know
all the answers to this question but suffice to say that lack
of accountability and corruption in all its forms, particularly
in high places and in our public institutions has become the
bane of Africa. These evils have sapped the very fibre of our
societies. They have become in essence a moral problem,”
Mwaanga stated.

“Africa has gone through many challenges in this fast moving
world. Our continent has been through many phases to get to
where we are today. The political transformation which has
taken place on our continent in the last thirty years has been
astounding. We have had military regimes, one party systems,
colonial and apartheid regimes not to forget that in 1989, we
had as few as four countries, which could genuinely be
described as plural democracies. By 1990, all but five
countries of Sub-Saharan Africa had either transformed into
full multi-party democracies or were well advanced towards
becoming multi-party democracies.”

He stated that one party systems and military rule limited the
political freedoms of African people and also retarded economic
development.

“After the introduction of multi-party democracy, many
political parties emerged and this development of new parties
has not always been smooth or painless. Every democratic
government needs a stimulus of criticism to perform better and
in a sustained way. Opposition parties act as a people’s
channel of discontent. With this new spirit of democratic
multi-partism, new problems began to emerge of leaders using
constitutions of their countries to overstay much beyond the
two terms prescribed,” Mwaanga stated.
“Using the tyranny of the majority in their parliaments, we
have seen many African leaders extend and overstay their
welcome, causing immense frustration and disappointment among
their people. We have seen this in Angola, Zimbabwe, Burundi,
Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Republic of
Congo, among others. I would like to pay particular tribute to
countries like Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi,
Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Mauritius and now
Liberia, which have respected their national constitutions by
sticking to the two-term presidential limits. Special tribute
must go to Africa’s outgoing woman President, Ellen
Johnson-Sirleaf, for doing the African women and all of us
proud by stepping down after her two terms. This may be a
signal that we probably need more women presidents on our
continent.”

He wondered why African leaders wanted to overstay by
manipulating their constitutions.

“How has this retrogressive development affected the fight
against corruption, nepotism and lack of accountability? It has
not been uncommon to see African leaders assume power as
paupers and accumulate so much wealth with their families and
cronies within a short time, which cannot be justified by their
salaries and allowances, which are in the public domain. The
founding fathers of our continent had their faults-and they
were many – but amassing wealth at the expense of their poor
people were not among them. Many of them left office with very
little money in their bank accounts or properties, because they
put their countries and people first,” Mwaanga stated.

“Many of the current crop of leaders seem to believe in a new
culture of ‘me, myself and I’. You will find that people who
were using public transport just before assuming office at
various levels, now have a fleet of private cars parked in
their yards and have built or bought real estate of
unimaginable quantity. Regrettably, we have also witnessed a
clamping down of the private media, which has been a crucial
voice against abuse of power and corruption.”

He stated that a muzzled or emasculated media was a charge to
democracy and that it did any government of the day a
disservice.

“As a former newspaper Editor-in-Chief of a major media
publication, I recognise that the media also have their own
obligations to their communities. Among these is the
professional obligation to investigate and verify their facts
before rushing to publish. Former British Prime Minister Harold
Wilson, once said ‘…Once a falsehood has been released, not
even twelve truths can catch up with it….’ Our hardworking
media men and women must have the diligence to work hard on
their stories and the courage to publish only after their
stories have been verified. Failure to do so only compromises
media integrity and strengthens the culprits,” stated Mwaanga.

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