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CORRUPTION IS DRIVER OF POVERTY

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The ongoing allegations of corruption in government and business are disheartening.

Before we deal with their validity or otherwise, we must ask whether we acknowledge that corruption has become one of Africa’s brand names. One of the major pronouncements made by the current government and leadership was a promise to deal decisively with corruption, which had plagued the country for years. Corruption is indeed a cancer and; inasmuch as it hampers healthy growth of the economy, creating employment and alleviating poverty, while undermining the population’s trust in government and officialdom, it is also a facilitator of gross human rights violations. It is significant that whenever there is talk of the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality, corruption has been the common denominator.

Enemies

COVID-19 and corruption have become the real enemies of the people. Maybe the pandemic will end at some point and a measure of normality be restored. However, corruption, which long predates the virus, will continue and its effects will be felt for years to come. Not much has been done to hold those who had plundered national resources accountable. When the COVID-19 coronavirus took control of the world, bringing big economies to a standstill and redefining how we live, our government, which already had constrained financial resources, reportedly raised billions to enable it to fight the pandemic, among other objectives. As it did to other countries, COVID-19 collapsed our economy, severely aggravating those triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Amid this, corruption – unsurprisingly – entered the equation and, alongside the virus, became the dominant issue in our public discourse. Various allegations of grand corruption were made that effectively relegated the pandemic to playing second fiddle. In fact, messaging regarding the virus became secondary, as news and talk focused more on the alleged corruption than on infection rates, testing or mortality statistics.

 

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