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An Ethiopian woman's musings on Africa, the world and everything in between

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        Monday, February 27, 2006
        Easy times ahead for the corrupt in Africa
        This post falls under the category of government culture – in case you’re wondering.

        What prompted it is my kids giving me instructions on how to drive. Whenever we pass a car in which their school friend is riding (while we driving to the same school, I would like to stress), I get these very excited, contradictory and urgent orders. The sudden screams are going to cause a traffic accident one of these days. The instructions are: slow down, Mommy. It's so-and-so behind us, go to the other lane, go back. Keep on stopping after the traffic light turns green, they are almost catching up with us.... Today, I put my foot down and said enough is enough. I explained that they are all going to sit in the same class for 7 hours, and play in the same play ground, eat lunch together... So my wise advice was give up waving at them from the car now because you'll have all the time with them when we get to school.

        It must have been some news item which was on the radio that triggered this chain of thoughts (I can't be sure because remember kids were screaming at me), but the car episode made me think of corruption in Africa and the US. I really believe that if African government officials learn to contain themselves now and help Africa develop economically, they can have an easier time being corrupt later. The recent corruption scandals in Kenya have ignited demonstrations, arrests and general fear in the government. If Kenya were as developed as the US for example, government officials would not have struggled to save their reputation. In the US, you don't see much drama after a major corruption story breaks out. Actually, in most cases, such news serves as free PR for the accused. Therefore, I have come to this sociologically significant conclusion that postponing corruption until Africa develops will have a multiplied effect in favor of government officials.

        Again in Kenya there was a recent chaos because government officials are wasting money driving Mercedes while the majority of people are poor. So a valuable lesson from the US is that it is OK to be a government official and ride a bicycle or a motorcycle, and you don't need a license if you are that important. Just be careful.

        In all seriousness though, I think it is becoming very clear that before a presidential candidate and his staff take the Oval Office, a thorough test should be conducted to determine whether the individuals’ motor and sensorial skills are well developed. I used to be convinced that the group needs a crash course on culture for both domestic and foreign policies, a permanent staff of shrinks to interpret some complicated human issues and a geek who would compile important comments and suggestions from blog sites and turn them into policy materials…. I used to also think that strict rules should apply to corruption and a feeling of being above the law (not having proper license/permit,) which are connected with most of these clumsy accidents. But, now I see that a much more basic skill is in question – motor skills (trust me on this one, I’m a Montessori mom). You give them bicycles for leisure ride and they run people over. You take them hunting and they blast their friend’s face. You give them a motor bike and they bust their lips making their speech even funnier… What is going on, people? It's really becoming a habit.

        See for yourself

        Bush crashed into a police officer
        Bush falls off his bike again
        At least he fell here trying to see if saving fuel is good for the environment
        Should have listend to Mum's advise about eating properly!
        To shoot, or not shoot?
        It's rubbing off on governors
        posted by Fikirte @ 2:29 PM   Digg!
        • name<="c114126981473424124" id="c114126981473424124">

          At 10:23 PM, Blogger zinzi said…

          If I start a blog on the corruption of African leaders it will be longer than the Nile River.

          In Kenya, a country in which most people live on a dollar a day, the Parliament has just voted for their members of Parliament (please tell me there is a conflict there) for an allowance of $656.00 per day or close thereto when they travel to the US. The allowance is higher depending on what country they travel to. In most of these cases they are traveling to meetings with donors to ask for more aid or a waiver of the current foreign debt. By the way this is in addition to a $4000.00 per month salary for non-cabinet ministers. Other perks include a cook, (otherwise known as a chef), a nanny or two depending on how many kids they have and a driver, all paid for by the State.

          These same characters spent in two days on gas for their expensive cars paid for by tax payers' money enough money to educate all the kids in elementary school for eight years. The two day seminar was on money management. There is no end to their folly.

          This sad tale reminds me of an alcoholic. If his mother continues to give him money and cancel his debts she becomes an ENABLER.
          The World Bank, IMF, OXFAM, the UN and many other international agencies make half-hearted threats to the government to toe the line in respect of corruption. The line is toed for two miles and all is forgiven or famine breaks out and all is forgotten.

          Why do they do this, you wonder? Simple answer, because they created the fork in the road and with promises of economic freedom enticed Kenya to attempt the impossible. That is partly what caused the country to split asunder. In the 80's they peddled Structural Adjustment Programs as the blueprint for development and solution to all political ills. Ten years later, Oops!Wrong number...IMF and WB's theories were different, truly a fork in the road. Kenya followed both and the rest is history. I said before that the graduate student gets his degree whether his dissertation derails a nation or not.

          I agree that logically if the politicians built the country's wealth up first it would sustain their greed. Instead of milking the cow while they give it the best feed so it can multiply and fill the place with lots of grade cows so that if they steal one or two they go unnoticed, they try to drink the milk and eat the beef from the same cow, at the same time. They are then surprised when they are caught with the blood of the one and only cow on their hands.

          It is time for change. Oops! Change came by way of the elections of 2002 but again, sometimes the more we change the more we mean the same thing...(Animal Farm: George Orwell).

          It is a zoo out there!

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