Corruption: Africa’s undeclared pandemic

Tafi Mhaka

Tafi Mhaka

On June 21, Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera fired the country’s chief of police, suspended several senior government officials and also took the extraordinary step of stripping his deputy, Saulos Chilima, of all powers after they were accused of receiving kickbacks from UK-based businessman Zuneth Sattar in exchange for government contracts worth more than $150m.

While Chilima is the highest-ranking official in Malawi to be removed from power over alleged corruption to date, few were shocked by the accusations. After all, it was only in January that Chakwera had to dissolve the country’s cabinet after three prominent ministers – Lands Minister Kezzie Msukwa, Labour Minister Ken Kandodo and Energy Minister Newton Kambala – faced corruption charges.

Sadly, a corruption pandemic is raging in Malawi – and on the rest of the continent.

Indeed, from Malawi to South Africa and Zimbabwe, from Angola to Mozambique and Namibia, in countries across Africa high-ranking civil servants and their relatives, in cahoots with industry and business leaders, seem to have long been shamelessly stealing from the long-suffering masses.

South Africa, for instance, has recently been rocked by allegations that former President Jacob Zuma and a plethora of former ministers and CEOs of state-owned companies systematically planned and executed state capture to aid the wealthy Gupta family and line their pockets. On June 22, South Africa’s Chief Justice Raymond Zondo released the final instalment of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture and found that the ruling African National Congress party, under Zuma, “permitted, supported and enabled corruption and state capture”. He also criticised current President Cyril Ramaphosa, who served as vice president under Zuma, for hesitating “to act with more urgency” to resist the emergence and establishment of state capture.

Beyond the Gupta scandal, South Africa is battling to recover millions of dollars it lost through dodgy contracts linked to the nationwide campaign to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

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