Why Africa Should ‘Earn’ Respect

Published on 23rd January 2018

On September 17, 2017, President Trump stated this to African Leaders in attendance at the United Nations: Africa has tremendous business potential. I’ve so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich…  “I congratulate you. They’re spending a lot of money. http://time.com/4951006/trump-africa-get-rich/

Donald Trump’s above quote underscores this fact: “Shithole Africa” is the “Global Gold Mine” (http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/18/africa/looting-machine-tom-burgis-africa/index.html ) that’s being shafted by wealthy Anglo, Arab and Asian-owned, multinational corporations that are working in lockstep collusion with immoral, corrupt and soulless Black-African-leaders to suck out of Africa, its precious raw materials and commodities, leaving human destitution and destruction in the wake. https://www.fairobserver.com/region/africa/corporate-governance-tobacco-industry-africa-latest-news-today-24055/

There are always two sides to self-serving arguments: https://www.biznews.com/undictated/2018/01/16/trumps-insult-africa-offensive/ ; however, smack-dap in the middle of the two sides of self-serving arguments, are always the towering, Irrefutable Truths.

Every year an estimated $148 billion is siphoned off annually from African states and stashed in developed economies, according to Transparency International, a global non-profit group that tracks corruption. This figure may not be an exaggeration when it is con­sidered that in Nigeria alone, over $400bn is estimated to have been lost to high-level official corruption since independence in 1960.

Corruption and money laundering can have devastating consequences for national economies, democratic institutions, the rule of law, and enjoyment of human rights especially for a region like Africa.

Indeed, the twin problems of corruption and money laundering, and their ‘offspring’ – poverty – have more in common than one might expect at the outset. This link is best captured by the second and third pre-ambular paragraphs of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, a treaty that has received almost universal acceptance.

Because it ‘takes two to tango,’ high-level official corruption depends on collusion between corrupt leaders, their families, friends, and other politically exposed persons, PEPs (Dr. Radha Ivory has called them the ‘bad guys’ in her new book: ‘Corruption, Asset Recovery, and the Protection of Property in Public International Law: The Human Rights of Bad Guys’), and banks that frequently provide safe havens for the funds. The bad guys’ accounts’ details with these banks are often shrouded in secrecy. https://qz.com/705509/swiss-bankers-swear-they-are-trying-to-help-africa-get-its-dirty-money-back/

The problem of safe haven jurisdictions is further exacerbated by the push for profits derived mostly from corrupt money from developing regions like Africa. This profit incentive also provides an explanation for the reluctance of many financial institutions to check, limit, or stop the laundering by high ranking corrupt public officials, of embezzled public funds.

This practice has become endemic and has in fact gone on for many years but rarely is any meaningful or consistent action taken by the international community or governments that supposedly regulate the banks. As it is often the case, the Western press and politicians are quick to denounce African corrupt leaders for causing so much suffering for their people while avoiding the bigger picture: the complicity and culpability of banks and financial institutions within their own borders.

It is beyond doubt that African women, men and children are paying the price in terms of schools not being built, environmental damage, bridges not fixed to standard and hospitals unable to offer necessary medicines. Yet, Western banks that accept, keep and profit from corrupt funds are rarely investigated or held to account. Rather than facing scrutiny and sanctions for failing to observe the most basic anti-corruption and anti-money laundering standards (such as identifying and scrutinizing the accounts of corrupt officials), and consequently, for their roles in fueling corruption, poverty and associated human rights violations in Africa, these banks are often pumped up with state subsidies.

To be sure, ‘African leaders’ share primary responsibility for the appropriation of the commonwealth for personal gain, and it’s certainly necessary to have prosecutions and wide-ranging inquiries and restitution for their citizens who are the ultimate victims of corruption. A strong and effective leadership and clear and genuine commitment to achieve full respect for internationally recognized human rights—not just civil and political rights—but also economic and social rights of African women, men and children, is required to make African states more transparent, inclusive and accountable.

But the persistent failure of many international banks to stop African public stolen funds from being deposited with them in the first place can no longer be ignored or allowed to go unaddressed or un-remedied.

By Prof. Doc Lee

Council of African Partnerships                                               

Botswana – Ghana Africa.

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