I have always taken a position that politicians all over the world are the same when discussing corrupt politicians in Africa with my friends. The only difference is that in Africa every corrupt practice levelled against elected official is politicised while in advanced countries there are institutions to deal with it.
The strange thing is that it is always the poor who would come to the rescue of corrupt politicians thus making them untouchables.
This is in contrast to politicians in other democracies. The poor do not support any corrupt politicians, it is the politicians themselves who most of the time resign and in extreme cases kill themselves.
This very year, Roh Moo-hyun, President of South Korea from 2003 to 2008, jumped to his death while hiking in the mountains behind his rural home.
Reason: he was ashamed of corrupt charges against him. The former President who was alleged to have accepted more that $6 million in bribes from South Korean businessman while in office wrote on his computer before killing himself: �Too many people are suffering because of me. What�s left for me for the rest of my life is just to be a burden to others. Don�t be too sad. Aren�t life and death both part of nature?�
This is a leader who had conscience and felt that he had disappointed his supporters. Twelve years ago two ex-presidents of South Korea were also convicted of taking bribes while in office.
Not quite long ago, the speaker of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom resigned over expenses scandal. Prime Minister Gordon Brown went to the extent of saying that no Labour Party MP who broke the expenses rules would stand in the next election.
Recently in the United States, a two- year corruption and international money laundering investigation resulted in charges against 44 people including three New Jersey mayors, two state assembly men and five rabbis. Irrespective of their influence, the arrested people would face the full rigours of the law.
The point I am trying to make with the above examples is that corruption among politicians and elected officials stretch over all the continents but there are institutions particularly court of law to deal with it.
In Africa, any politician who is charged with corruption is seen by his supporters as a victim of a �witch hunt� or political victimization instead of allowing the law to take its course.
The question then is, why do the electorate who are supposed to demand accountability from their elected officials fight to maintain or come to the rescue of corrupt politicians? The answer is pure ignorance even among the educated ones. The mentality of some supporters is that an accusation of corruption against their party leaders is a criminal display of irreverence and almost an attack on themselves, forgetting that corrupt politicians do not care about them.
In the eight years of NPP rule under President Kufuor, all the past government officials who were dragged to court for corruption was portrayed by their supporters as victims thereby undermining the investigation. Those who were even convicted still see themselves as victims.
For Africa to overcome her numerous problems the masses should hold their elected officials accountable instead of condoning their corrupt practices. After all, they use their ill-gotten money to live ostentatiously while their supporters live in abject poverty. Hopefully one day, we would get a crop of politicians who have conscience to do the right thing.
At the moment, I have my doubts that we have politicians with particular reference to Ghana who have conscience. I am waiting for the day that an elected official in Ghana or any other African country would be bold enough like the former President Roh Moo-hyun did to accept that he was ashamed of corrupt charges against him.
Aren�t life and death both part of nature?� Then why an African politician should be spared. I bet my life that no African leader, past and present, will be courageous to take his life for being corrupt.
G. Fiifi Owoo
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Source: G. Fiifi Owoo, Canada
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