Africa’s developmental challenges have been well documented, discussed and dissected a million times over, yet solutions to the grinding poverty that is so pervasive and which continues to hamper progress across the continent remain elusive.
To this day, Africa still depends on handouts from primarily Western donor countries and now China, to survive. The lot of the ordinary African hasn’t improved substantially since the white man was given his walking papers nearly sixty years ago. Millions across the continent still live in abject and debilitating conditions, and prospects for a better tomorrow are still years away.
Blame and responsibility for the continent’s struggles to catch up with the rest of the world is consistently put on the shoulders of the international system which has been accused of everything under the sun; exploitation of Africa’s natural resources, paying ridiculously low prices for her commodities, lack of technology transfer and deliberately denying Africa her rightful place at the table.
While these accusations are true to some extent and ought to be condemned vociferously, it is foolhardy and misleading to point the finger at a foreign entity for Africa’s glaring problems of crippling poverty and severe underdevelopment. One group that has escaped scrutiny and deserves to be singled out is Africa's slow march towards progress is her political leaders.
Over the years, in fact, since independence, a few of our political leaders have demonstrated an honest commitment to the plight of the people they rule. Instead, a majority of them have looked to enrich themselves through dubious means, which in the layman’s language is corruption.
Because of their proclivity to steal public monies without an ounce of shame and their glaring inability and gross failure to institute measures that will hold them responsible and punish them accordingly, public trust in our political leaders has been damaged significantly. Ordinary Africans no longer have faith in their national institutions and in their leaders to provide answers, once and for all, to their decades-old problems of slow economy growth and the absence of prosperity.
Realizing that their inability to enact policies that will improve the conditions of their citizens condemns them to uncertain futures, African leaders met last week in the seaside city of Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, ostensibly to find an anti-dote, a solution to corruption.
However sincere and committed the leaders may be towards tackling a problem that has plagued our continent for years, I take this latest attempt at fighting corruption with a grain of salt.
How many times have we heard our political leaders vow to take the fight to corruption and yet fail miserably to punish members of their cabinets snared in the diversion of public funds, and worse, how many times have the leaders themselves engaged in this despicable act, and not unexpected, swept away accusations of financial malfeasance, much to the consternation of the people they swore to serve?
African political leaders are collectively responsible for the continent’s stagnation and severe lack of progress. And, it is about time the spotlight was turned on their greed, avarice and insatiable appetite to enrich themselves, their families, friends, and hangers-on at the expense of their citizens. We can blame colonialism and neocolonialism all we want, the real culprits for our twin problems of poverty and underdevelopment are our elected political representatives.