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Judgment Debt Or Judgment Death: A Controversy?

Sun, 22 Sep 2013 Source: Kwarteng, Francis

—Part ll.

Folks, how did “Judgment Debt Or Judgment Death: A Controversy?—Part l” go?

Again I don’t want to be misconstrued. I once heard the Haitians deny being given $ 1 billion by the Clinton administration. Later, the Haitians were vindicated and the burden of proof got stuck with the Americans forever. How the Americans eventually dispensed with the matter is anyone’s guess! Predictably, public disclosure of the controversy met the fate of eternal interment. Also, the Bush administration could not account for billions of US dollars spent on Iraq during the second Iraq war. We also know the Bush administration paid opponents of Saddam Hussein millions of dollars to manufacture lies and to present them before the United Nations and the American public. Even the government of Nouri al-Maliki threatened to take the American government to the International Criminal Court for misappropriating close to $20 billion of Iraq’s money. As of this writing, I don’t know the specifics on how this case was finally resolved.

The government of Tony Blair was alleged to have silenced the Libyan Abdel Hakim Belhadj with £1 million—“hush money”—to prevent him from spilling details of his extraordinary rendition to President Gaddafi into the public domain. So, corruption, as you can see, is a universal problem, and, unfortunately, in Ghana, it has streamed from benignity to malignancy. In fact, if corruption is not rigorously oppugned, Ghana may eventually turn into a terminal kleptocracy. But that’s beside the point. Let proceed. This is what Kofi Annan has to say as per Keefe’s “New Yorker article”:

“A recent by the African Progress Panel, which is chaired by Kofi Annan, suggests that well-connected foreigners often purchase lucrative assets in Africa at prices far below market value, by offering inducements to predatory local elites. ‘Africa’s resource wealth has bypassed the vast majority of African people and built vast fortunes for a privileged few.’”

It was Guinea’s General Lansana Conté who practically turned over one of Africa’s largest prizes to a single foreigner for a mere pittance. Meanwhile, Keefe quotes Frantz Fanon on corruption in Africa:

“Concessions are snatched up by foreigners; scandals are numerous, ministers grow rich, their wives doll themselves up, the members of parliament feather their nests and there is not a soul down to the simple policeman or the customs officer who does not join in the great procession of corruption.”

That was Frantz Fanon of 1961. Yet, it seems—as though—he’s here with us in the 21st Century. Fanon’s posthumous sociopolitical critique speaks so eloquently to the sociology of contemporary verities, the problematic of corruption. Certainly, people not in the know about the intricacies of international finance usually fault Switzerland for financial improprieties, but a better candidate, America or Britain, assumes that primacy. Keefe writes:

“Paul Collier argues that there are often three parties to a corrupt deal: the briber, the bribed, and the lawyers and financial facilitators who enable the secret transaction. The result, he says, is ‘a web of corporate opacity’ that is spun largely by wealthy professionals in financial capitals like London and New York. A recent study found that the easiest country in which to establish an untraceable shell company is not a tropical banking haven but the United States.”

I have always cautioned our leaders to be wary and suspicious of external influences. Indeed, it always has turned out that Africa doesn’t have good, genuine friends from without, sometimes, in fact, most times, even from within. Corporate or multinational tax evasion is yet another serious problem affecting African economies. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now discusses with the reporter Greg Palast the topic “How US ‘Vulture’ Funds Make Millions by Exploiting African Nations”:

“American ‘vulture’ investors, including a top funder of the Republican Party, have demanded that African nations pay over half a billion dollars for old debts, for which the investors paid only a few dollars. One New York vulture speculator, Peter Grossman of FG Capital Management, is demanding $100 million from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Is he collecting a legitimate debt from the Congo, or is the vulture’s claim based on a stolen security?

So, Africa is literally torn into shamefully helpless smithereens from without, external friends of Africa, and from within, internal enemies of Africa! In that case, what did Yaa Asantewaa, Kwame Nkrumah, Malcolm X, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Queen Nzingha, Marcus Garvey, Sojourner Truth, Wole Soyinka, Fannie Lou Hamer, Rolihlahla Mandela, Chinua Achebe, Winnie Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., Amilcar Cabral, Patrice Lumumba, Dedan Kimathi…fight for?

Is the new crop of post-colonial corrupt African leadership the alter ego of our colonizers? Why does Thiong’o’s “Petals of Blood” hurt us so much, evening sending him to prison on the book’s account? Are we considering strengthening our judiciaries? Are we ready to show posterity that culture of impunity threatens the survival and emotional complexion of African democracy? What do the irresponsible behavior of African leaders and of African kleptocracy say about Rodney’s “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa?” Has the corruptibility of African leadership become the new Europe? What explanation do we give posterity for the near-shooting death of the Malawian corruption activist—Paul Mphwiyo—who threatened to expose a corruption syndicate? What are we to tell posterity about the politics of nepotism demonstrated so blatantly by Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson, a Nobel laureate?

Here’s the clincher: Let’s change the name “Judgment debt” to “Judgment death.” Why the latter? I dare say that the unrepentant circularity of thievery by our shameless leaders is akin to a judgment of death pronounced by a court—the kleptocrats—upon death row prisoners, the people, “death” because for every cedi or dollar snatched by the long hand of kleptomania from the national coffers a hospital loses a life-saving tablet, an African child dies, a politician gets a life-threatening potbelly, cost of living is increased, a child’s denied quality education, Africa’s internal/external debt increases, life expectancy and standard of living are curtailed, political leaders or community elders lose respect, Africa’s development ebbs…

“We are not poor, we need to manage our resources better…African governments can do better…Transparency and accountability are key…” says Kofi Annan.

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis