Whenever I meet or watch some ministers in Canada driving their cars I remember home with indignation. When I look at how simple the Prime Minister of Canada is, I remember Africa with sadness. Many questions have been disturbing me since I arrive here. Why do African ministers, RCs or PCs and DCs have drivers instead of driving themselves as it is in rich countries? Why do presidents have many bodyguards and helpers compared to their rich counterparts?
If anyone can nail down the answers of those questions above, she or he will be able to start pinning down the formula of freeing Africa from manmade penury. Many African governments are unnecessarily bigger than the economies of the countries they are running. Extravagance is the suitable term to use when it comes to African governments’ spending. Accountability is the foreign vocabulary for African governments. Alas, many African presidents are constitutionally above the law so are the members of their families! This enables them to make all blunders and get away with it.
The lack of accountability for Africa’s rulers trickles down to their appointees. The chain of reactions goes in this manner down to the mere sweeper or office attendant.
African rulers are not only above the law but also have the discretion of appointing any number and type of people they deem fit to form their governments. Recently, Malawi’s President Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika appointed the first lady Callista to be a minister for a newly fabricated ministry of Safe Motherhood. Mutharika went ahead appointing his brother, Peter Mutharika, minister for Foreign Affairs without any doubt.
In Uganda, just like Malawi, the first lady, Janet Museveni, is the minister for her husband fabricated Karamoja Affairs docket. In essence, Museveni and Mutharika appointed their wives to enable them access to resources and fat perks just like other high rank appointees. African rulers reward relationship, connection, loyalty and sycophancy.
Nepotism and cronyism can also be openly seen in in the son of Senegal president, Karim Wade, who soon after his father ascended to power, was named Personal Advisor to the President of the Republic, in charge of implementing major restructuring projects, among which were the New International Airport of Diass, the restructuring of Chemical Industries of Senegal (Industries Chimiques du Senegal, ICS), and the creation of the special integrated economic zone of Dakar.
After being his father’s advisor, Karim was promoted as Minister of State for International Cooperation, Regional Development (Aménagement du territoire), Air Transport, and Infrastructure. In principle, Karim is no different from Christel Denis Sassou Ngweso or Theodoro Obiang Jr. in the current corrupt and nepotic regimes in Africa. This also was evidenced in Egypt and Libya where the sons of the fallen tyrants would command much and unchecked powers simply because their fathers were presidents.
These are what Niccolo Machiavelli in his book “The Prince” regarded as princes to whom the end justifies the means. The princes or call them freaks, can go over the line without being questioned for they are themselves the power to reckon with within the system in which their relative, father or husband is the pillar. The system always does just that, to kow-tow before this selfish gang of thieves.
Apart from appointing their relatives African president are at liberty to appoint their court jesters and whizkids to whatever position they deem fit. This loophole is used to creating unnecessary ministeries like Safe Motherhood in Malawi or Karamoja Affairs in Uganda.
While presidents have the discretionary powers to appoint their relatives, even their appointees do the same. In the end, the big chunk of power and benefits ends in hands of nepotic regime so to speak. Again this typifies what is currently going on in African countries whether headed by tyrants or democrats.
Many African presidents and their ministers travel abroad a lot, whether doing their private business or government business. This is why many African budgets serve to pay salaries and emoluments for the officials of government instead of development. In this year’s budget, Tanzania’s budget Tshs 5,226.9 Billion went to paying for salaries and running the government whislt Tshs 1,942.4 Billion went to development.
The situation is the same all over Africa. Budgets for running the governments made of a cabal of a few bureaucrats and bootlickers. In essence, the said budgets are passed to serve rulers and their appointees, but not the people. How can budgets serve the people where there is not accountability?