Africa Leaders 

Opinion: The inherent corruption of democracy in the context of Africa

By Sylvester Ayuba James writes

As we keep talking about Sattar and how he has had the whole government in his pocket, one day we should also stop and talk about the inherent corruption of democracy, particularly in the context of Africa.

Think of my dear friend Lazarus Chakwera, for example. A pastor who stepped down from the pulpit a very financially invisible man to join politics as a Presidential candidate. All he had were decorated ideas of how to end corruption and build a ‘nu’ Malawi. He inherited a dilapidated MCP office with a party that had no known means of raising funds for its daily keeping. Only a pool of peasant ethnic group members wearing tattered Kamuzu Banda regalia spread across the central region of Malawi and few pockets of old remnants in the North and South.

And yet he had to run a campaign billed in billions of kwachas. A fact we all well knew.

When, suddenly, he started managing to pull long lines of whispering TX Prado’s, Hummers, Land Cruisers and Range Rovers, we all joined the frenzy of celebrating the competition of class between DPP and MCP in the campaign. Class commanded by a man who had all his life never been any closer to affluence. And we did not care where all this had emerged from, just at the click of his new political fingers.

Saulos Chilima and his gang of disgruntled goons left DPP to form UTM just within months of counting down to the ballot board. He had been Vice President for just four and a half years. His only know source of wealth was his salary as VP and his previous earnings at Airtel. We hear he had had few business interests jointly held with a certain Malawian who is established in real estate development in Lilongwe. But we have never known him to have wealth that can shake heads. As for his fellow rebels who helped him discredit the DPP, you and I know how they lived that time: the cars they drove, the powder they used to wear on their faces- if they did not come close to applying maize flower on a face that cannot leave the bedroom without powder.

It was not even surprising that time to hear rumours that a respectable number of Chilima’s cheerleaders had been sinking deep into the dung of debt…

But within few weeks of forming his UTM, Chilima had managed to secure brand new Nissan Hardbody vehicles counting in dozens, branded, and scattered across the country. His tout boys and girls were all over Facebook and other places showing off the apparent opulence of their party. Again, no one cared where all this was sourced from. And he ran a very financially stable campaign that gave even his then boss a tough running.

Today, when we hear about Sattar having effectively contaminated and disabled the whole executive arm of government, we rise with rage, raising our fists in agitation against corruption as if we care at all. What mental disease is this?

What did you think would be the reward for the foreign well-wisher who ‘donated’ all that fortune to the campaign that you celebrated? Why should a foreigner just care about which presidential candidate you elect as a nation to the extent of pouring his scaring chunks of dollars into your campaign without holding any commercial interests in your country and its thin resources?

What the President only got wrong was to suggest that we benefitted unknowingly from corruption. Noooo! It was not ‘unknowingly’. That is a lie, Mr. President.

The President should have looked us in the face and boldly told us that if we want to end state-capture corruption, we must do away with the idea of multi-party elections that require competition of ability to mobilize voters and spend resources.

He should have suggested a military coup as they do in other countries. Of course, I cannot suggest this, for I am told by the law that it is illegal. But while the coup is illegal, although it can end state-capture, democracy is inherently corrupt.

And corruption is both legally criminal and spiritually evil. It is also murderous. So, simply said, if we choose to remain with democracy, we ought to know that you cannot choose to swim but refuse to get wet in the water.

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