Monday, 11 June 2012

Democracy and Corruption

Two articles take a look at how selling Democracy to the poor citizens living with corrupt governments may not be a God's send but a joke and even a mistake without the need to critique what Democracy is and how it relates to the country it is expected to grow in. The second article focuses on the corruption that breeds violence among citizens with South Sudan as a warning to Liberia's future petroleum prospects. The first article comes from the Liberian newspaper: New Democrat and the second form Liberian Observer. Enjoy

Liberia: Selling Democracy As an Endangered Demon to the Poor

Throughout his earthly sojourn, versatile Liberian journalist Tom Kamara, who died Friday while undergoing medical treatment in Brussels, remained an uncompromising campaigner for social justice at home and everywhere.
This unimpeachable trademark can be seen and acknowledged unquestionably by both his admirers and detractors in this last analysis of the situation in Liberia written by the man, whom his contemporaries often called "Tom" while his co-employees and workers referred to him as "Uncle Tom":
One of Pakistan's most respected charity heads, in an interview with the BBC, said most Pakistanis would prefer military rule over a network of corrupt civilian politicians that take turns in ruling the country with fat bank accounts abroad. For the poor, he said, democracy has meant nothing for them, only the incubation of poverty.
Prevailing developments in Liberia suggest the same trend. Because of the growing disconnect between politicians and the poor, as the Vision 2030 recently suggested, democracy--the freedom to periodically elect one's own thieves and plunderers, amongst other democratic values--is fast becoming an endangered demon to the poor.
This mistrust in democracy serves as one of the growing reasons for the relevance of Mr. George Weah's Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). The poor see their children hanging on crawling vehicles, running behind Mr. Weah, as their chance to material wellbeing once he gets the presidency. And one of the reasons for the fanatical loyalty Mr. Charles Taylor commands even as he prepares for a long jail term as the rest of the world demands is that under him, a few saw their material conditions enhanced.
This enhancement of their material conditions was at the expense of others in the forms of murders, looting, etc. But they would care less, since they saw what they considered a better life under Taylor. The wife of the feared Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU) commander was filled with nostalgia in an interview with foreign journalists as the verdict against Mr. Taylor came down. She had a better life under Taylor, she said, since the prices of commodities were cheap or for the taking, since her husband was an ATU commander who had in his hands the power to administer death or allow someone to live.

A Dreaded Lesson for Liberia

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South Sudan, Africa’s newest independent nation, is a nation that has been through so much over the past decades, but with independence, and bountiful oil deposits, it was also seen as a nation with a lot of promise. But that promise, while challenged on many fronts, is facing its greatest threat from within—from perniciously corrupt officials, who the people have entrusted with the business of running the nation’s affairs
After over three decades of civil war in which the predominately Christian South fought for autonomy from the largely Muslim North, leaving at least 2.5 million people dead, and many peace negotiations in between, the South finally reached a peace agreement with the North, which lead to a referendum for independence in January 2011. An overwhelming number of South Sudanese, over 98.83%, voted for self-suffrage from the North. And on July 9th, as the world watched, South Sudan declared its independence with great fanfare and hope for a better future for its people.
But all that hope is being asphyxiated in what will probably go down as the most despicable corruption scandal in the annals of the world. In the face of continuing tension between the South and North over the sharing of oil revenues (80% of Sudan’s oil deposit is believed to be located in the South), which has led to a temporary halt in oil export, the country has been rocked by news of the massive pillaging of the country’s oil revenues, in the tune of US$4 billion, by current and former officials of the government.
“An estimated $4-billion are unaccounted for or, simply put, stolen by current and former officials, as well as corrupt individuals with close ties to government officials,” President Salva Kiir said in a letter to his officials.
Desperate to feed the country’s poverty-stricken population of 8 million people, one-fifth of who suffers from chronic hunger, and with child malnutrition rates reaching 21%, South Sudan’s President sent the letter to 75 current and former officials pleading with them to return the country’s money and promising that those who return their stolen cash would be granted amnesty.
“Many people in South Sudan are suffering and yet some government officials simply care about themselves. We fought for freedom, justice and equality. Many of our friends died to achieve these objectives. Yet once we got to power, we forgot what we fought for and began to enrich ourselves at the expense of our people,” President Kiir lamented in the letter.

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