For every bribe offered, every bribe accepted, for things stolen and stolen things bought, for every crooked manner in which money is involved we are slowly sliding into a state of anarchy. Corruption in the public sector or private sector is irrelevent, its nature destabilises our society and its continued existence will result in a social revolution.
The question is, in our pursuit of short term goals, how much of our future stability, sustainability can we sacrifice in the process? Democracy is relatively young on the African continent. Colonial abuse followed by liberation movement's difficulty in adapting to a systematic form of governance and rule with adequate control of State resources. Subsequent developments meant that modern democracy was adopted very late in the history of most African Countries. Perceptions of African countries, due to a combination of colonial throwbacks and African Dictatorships, are largely negative. This perfection is a key contributor towards stunted development and the general state of impoverishment. According to Transparency International, of the 10 most countries considered the most corrupt, 6 are in sub-Saharan Africa. Transparency International is a global watchdog on corruption. According to their study, corruption cost the continent approximately $150 billion annually. To compare, developed nations total contribution in aid for Sub-Saharan Africa was $22.5 billion.
Economic experts suggest the best model for combating corruption and improving perceptions among foreign investors will be to adopt a policy of transparency and accountability. These two words have been used ad nauseum by politicians in South African. Briefly they mean that public officials will be held to account for their actions, that their actions are open to public scrutiny and that should any foul play be committed, those officials will suffer the full effect of the indiscretions.
Daniel Kaufman, former director at the World Bank breaks down anti-corruption measures into 3 categories.
Create Anti-Corruption Agencies – these agencies are largely seen as ineffectual and according to a UN survey in 2005, the only countries in Sub-Saharan Africa with watchdog groups deemed as effective were in Namibia and Malawi. In all but a few these groups were not independent from the Executive Branch of government or in the case of certain democratic structured electoral systems, the legislature functions a rubber stamping facility for the decisions of the Executive. Bottomline: They don't really work if they are extensions of government and not founded on a principle of absolute independence.
Strengthening of existing institutions – Weaknesses within facilities strengthen opportunities for corruption. Instead of by passing old institutions, investment should be aimed at often neglected institutions such as police, the judiciary and civil service according to some economists. Further suggested, the disbursement of funds to be separated from policy making powers. The need for a free and active press is stressed, the implication obvious if a policy of transparency and accountability is implemented.
Ending dependency on foreign aid – A few economists have argued that foreign aid has made African countries dependent and accountable to foreign donors and investors instead of the citizenry which in effect breaks the relationship between government and its electorate. Some have argued that destroying Africa's reliance on foreign aid would increase accountability and force governments into being more frugal with public expenditure.
Corruption hurts the people that can least likely afford to be hurt. Whether its a bribe to receive preferential treatment on a tender or whether its reckless spending, our public servants need to be held to account. Our Democracy is young and cannot afford to be threatened by unscrupulous attempts at raiding the pork barrel for private benefit. There is no government or corporation that doesnt roof corruption of some form, but the question we need to ask ourselves is, can we afford to ignore it for much longer?