By declaring the end of third world just recently, Robert B. Zoellick (President The World Bank Group) left me baffled.

When this was declared, in all honesty, my first question was: “Is Africa included in this make-believe leap forth?” If yes, how with all the vampiric regimes made of corrupt big spenders and their cronies, armies, families especially first ladies? If no, should the west go on pumping money in the name of aid knowingly it will be frittered by our mad spenders in power?

Tantalizingly, Zoellick’s focused on the lack of inter-trading mechanism among African countries. He too pin-pointed lack of light industry in Africa and the way people, common ones, spend.

Mine is a different take. I will ponder on how big people, fat cat, fattened by the taxes of a common man, misspend. To know what I actually mean, refer to their sprees of shopping abroad where they spend more money than their government set aside for public services.

Another thing that needs to be appreciated is the fact that many of African rulers do nary think about tomorrow. Refer to the embezzlement of public funds, corruption, and lack of future and sustainable plans for their nations. Or you can refer on the fact that despite being helped for long, Africa has kept on cascading down a great deal more as her rulers become master beggars.

Today I am not going to opine with regards to this news that looks as if gods have smiled on Africa. But again, are they trustworthy? Do they live up to their promises?

Mine is to put facts together so that the reader can decide. My vector today is South African region in which, excluding South Africa and partly Mozambique, the rest of the countries are niftily poor. So too, this area has mad and big spenders amidst abject poverty.

In the list of big spenders is Fredrick Chiluba (former Zambian president), who is renowned for spending over a million bucks of taxpayers’ money on designer suits, shirts and shoes. This is the guy whose case involving corruption of $500,000 burned a cool $13,000,000. Ask a common Zambian of life. It is but miseries.

South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma follows. During his third marriage in January 2010, about 3,000 people, along with traditional leaders and VIP guests, attended the wedding. They were entertained with all luscious yum yum a person expects to get from any tycoon.

Malawi’s president Mutharika’s marriage in April 2010 to Ms Calista Chapola Chimombo (his former cabinet minister) stole thunders. The President’s first wife, Ethel, died from cancer in 2007, and his new wife is also widowed. An estimated 15,000 people witnessed the occasion at the stadium, while 5,200 guests were treated to a State House banquet. How much did they burn? Some said $1,300,000. Others said that amount was but a peanut.

To crown it all, the head of the Catholic Church in the country, Archbishop Tarcisius Ziyaye, officiated at the ceremony where he was expected of condemning such extravagance. To embellish the occasion, president arrived at the stadium in a brand new white limousine that was generously donated by Chinese government. Was it a bribe? I have no idea.

Though Malawi is famous for its generosity and poverty, on 19 December 2009,  Muluzi did not want to be left abaft in this game of spending. He married his last born daughter, Duwa off to her former Zimbabwean gym instructor, Tonderai at Sanjika palace. The nuptial festival was spiffy, classy and truly glamorous. Guess what? The news for this personal matter was broken by the Ministry of Information! This is Africa.

Mind you, this was the second time for Muluzi to show the world how rich he is though his country poor. In October, he spent $333,000 of taxpayers’ money on the wedding of his wife Patricia Shanil Fukulani Muluzi. One disgruntled Malawian had this to say: “Despite tax’s payers’ money to be spend on the wedding, officials are mum, citing the President family’s desire to keep the event “private”.”

Zimbabwean despot Robert Mugabe has his way of doing things. His 86th birthday’s concert in February 2010, not the whole function, gobbled more than US$150,000 down. If anything this is obscene. Remember this is the man whose wife Grace is known as Gucci Grace thanks to her taste of spending on expensive designer ware. To pass up the anger of his suffering people, Mugabe “thanked the Chinese embassy for its painstaking preparations for the birthday celebration and hoped to further expand friendly cooperative relations in every field between the two nations.”  Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi was quoted as saying. This Chinese style of inducing African corrupt dictators!

Sadly, this is the guy owning two palaces whose price tag is over $26 million a piece. Gucci Grace is known for her lavish lifestyle. The Daily Telegraph called her “notorious at home for her profligacy” in a 2003 coverage of a trip to Paris, during which she was reported as spending £75,000 (approx US$120,000) in a short shopping spree; and over the past years leading to 2004, has withdrawn over £5 million from the Central Bank of Zimbabwe.

Hold on. Feb 2005 saw King Mswati III of Swaziland, one of the world’s poorest countries, spent £450,000 on 10 new BMWs for his 11 wives and three teenage fiancees. His latest extravagance is equivalent to almost half the £1 million of British aid that Swaziland received in 2004. The cost of the BMWs is equal to 1.5 per cent of Swaziland’s health budget of £30 million.

In a word, Swaziland is kept afloat thanks to more than £14 million of international aid. Yet in 2004, the king spent almost £9 million on palaces, parties and cars. His 36th birthday party, which was celebrated in the national stadium with 10,000 guests, cost £330,000.

Mark my words. This is but a tip of an iceberg. What a telltale bump sort of news this is! For we know a little of the above spending and suchlike. What of unknown ones?  

Out of the cuffs: Did you know that the president of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki, takes home more dosh than Barack Obama despite being the top of the richest nation on earth? This is why Africa has always remained poor. Pathemata mathemata namely one learns from suffering. Should we suffer anymore in the hands of these selfseekers?

Nkwazi Mhango is a Tanzanian living in Canada. He writes regularly for “The African Executive” and also has a blog entitled “Free Thinking Unabii”. He is a regular contributor to AfroSpear.

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