Africa: Privatization is Synonymous to Corruption
Published on 9th July 2008
Kenya’s Grand regency hotel saga that has put the country’s Treasury, central bank and anti-corruption watchdog on the spotlight is a clear manifestation of the bottlenecks curtailing the success of privation in Africa. The scandal saw the hotel change hands at a paltry K Shs 2.9 billion instead of K Shs 7 billion in circumstances shrouded with secrecy, contradiction and high handedness.
The saga that violated prescribed legal procedures and laws governing the disposal of public assets perhaps explains why Namibia’s labour movement has opposed the privatization of parastattals. In Zambia, privatization brought with it the loss of 60 000 jobs. In Nigeria, the price of kerosene increased by 6000% between 1985 and 1995; postal telecommunications services by more than 4000% and electricity by 883%.
In Africa, privatization has meant the political elites selling off public assets for their own benefit. It is a vehicle-not to serve but rather to fleece the people. When president Museveni of Uganda was bent on privatizing Mabira forest, his explanation on economic productivity fell on defiant public ears for they knew that the deal would only benefit the president and his cronies. The African states have been reduced to a mafia-like bazaar where anyone with an official designation can pillage at will.
A phalanx of gangsters who use the instruments of state to enrich themselves and their tribesmen have hijacked Africa. In the Central African Republic, the country’s finance minister was arrested in early 2002 for recycling false treasurey bonds to redirect government funds. The scam saw the country loose more than CFA Fr 2 billion (about USD 3 million).In Tanzania, political storm over corruption compelled president Jakaya Kikwete to sack Prime Minister Edward Lowassa.In Nigeria, agents of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested two former ministers for aviatiaon_Prof. Babalola Borishade and Chief Femi Fani- Kayode over misapplication of the N19.5 billion aviation intervention fund.
The above incidents indicate the folly of choosing to privatize public holdings in a continent devoid of strong governance institutions.