SERIOUS CORRUPTION UNDERMINES DEVELOPMENT.
Many African countries are characterized by weak and vulnerable national governance institutions, such as parliament, the judiciary, civil service and police; a limited democratic culture; and, human, natural, technological resources that are not developed. Many of these countries are also characterized by an environment where there is limited awareness on the part of wider population with regard to consequences of corruption.
African elites of today have acquired wealth through connections to the state or via participation in the state itself through politics, the civil service or military. They are the ones who win most government contracts, are able to obtain loans from state-owned financial institutions most easily; are able to apply successfully for government allocations of public land and are able to lobby most effectively for government tax concessions, changes in investment regulations and the like. Corruption, the serious corruption that undermines development in the most sudden and debilitating ways, is an elite activity.
When elites that are part of informal structures of power perpetrate much of the most harmful corruption, it exacerbates already serious levels of poverty and economic inequality. This is partly because in the economies where such elites flourish the governance institutions are weak and members of the elite and their associates are almost literally beyond the law. As a result the well-connected people don’t have to pay the same taxes like everyone else; policemen and other junior officials seeking small bribes don’t dare solicit cash from them. At the end of the day it is the poor and the weak who face the true brunt of corruption.
The fight against corruption in many developing countries like Kenya is economic because it deepens poverty, exacerbates inequalities and makes for economies whose very structure is skewed. It is also political because corruption breeds impunity and undermines vital governance institutions sustaining shadow power structures. The fight against corruption is also social and cultural because where impunity with regard to corruption prevails one finds the corrupt transformed into latter day heroes and the principles of
honesty and hard-work become unattractive.
The fight against corruption is not an insurmountable struggle. The first step in dealing with a problem is recognizing it exists and this has happened in Kenya. The second stage involves understanding the nature of corruption and facilitating the implementation of viable anti-corruption strategies. This book, analyzing as it does the links between corruption and poverty, is an important step in promoting this understanding that exemplifies the second phase in the global struggle against corruption.