martedì, luglio 20, 2004

Money, money, money.

A speech given by the British High Commissioner to Kenya, Edward Clay, has caused quite a stir. In his speech, he tackled the issue of corruption in the Kenyan government. He said:

" It is outrageous to think that corruption accounts for about 8 per cent of Kenya's GDP. Kenya is not a rich country in terms of oil deposits, diamonds or some other buffer which might featherbed a thoroughgoing culture of corruption. What it chiefly has is its people - their intelligence, work ethic, education, entrepreneurial and other skills.

Those assets will be lost if they are not managed, rewarded and properly led. One day we may wake up at the end of this looting spree to find Kenya's potential is all behind us and it is a land of lost opportunity.

We never expected corruption to be vanquished overnight. We all recognised that some would be carried over to the new era. We hoped it would not be rammed in our faces. But it has: evidently the practitioners now in government have the arrogance, greed and perhaps a sense of panic to lead them to eat like gluttons. They may expect we shall not see, or will forgive them, a bit of gluttony because they profess to like Oxfam lunches. But they can hardly expect us not to care when their gluttony causes them to vomit all over our shoes; do they really expect us to ignore the lurid and mostly accurate details conveyed in the commendably free media and pursued by a properly-curious Parliament?

Some allegedly sober people have reproached the media for being "sensational". Such calls for media responsibility are usually a way of covering up threats. The fact is there would have been no disclosure had it not been for the press. It is the truths they have laid bare that are sensational and they need no dressing up. "

Of course, the Kenyan government are not at all happy about what Mr Clay had to say in his speech to a business group yesterday (Tuesday), but were his comments justified?

His speech has certainly kicked up a storm, with the Kenyan government divided as to whether or not Mr Clay should have said anything at all.

Kenya is no stranger to charges of bribery and corruption at high level though, as neither are several other African countries. Corruption at governmental level has long been a problem throughout the world though, with the African countries being suseptible more through their poverty and their lack of any real feeling of national pride. I say that because the country boundaries in Africa have never had anything to do with the people that live there. They were imposed and defined by the British, French, Dutch, Spanish and Portugese back in the days when all of Africa was being divided up like a birthday cake. The people living in Africa still identify first and formost with their tribal boundaries - which have very little to do with the actual countries themselves. This has helped to explain many of the wars which are seemingly endemic to Africa - as well as the corruption which similarly wreaks havoc on the various governments of African countries.

Of course, corruption isn't the exclusive province of the 'Third-World' counties. The more affluent, developed nations have problems with easily corruptible governments and administrations as well. The World Bank considers that government corruption is related directly to the declining respect people feel for their political leaders, perhaps going some way to explain why people are generally taking less of an interest in elections of their governmental or other elected leaders.