THE CRITICAL ROLE OF SALARIES/WAGES IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION
Your Excellency Sir/Madam,
I am greatly delighted to continue with this piece, as my passionate advocacy role to the Pan-African dream. Incontrovertibly, it would be noted with extreme disdain that massive, heartless and reckless corruption with gross impunity, is the perennial Herculean monster that keeps pervading our African society, and continues to artificially impoverish, rather naturally rich countries and peoples. It has led to the death of countless masses, through gruesome civil wars, dangerous escapes through North Africa and the Mediterranean, which was only trumpeted through the international media, last year. Most of these grotesque scenarios could have been easily avoided had our national leaders and public servants not callously mortgaged the prosperity of their nations on their sinister altars of greed and reckless abandon.
Corruption is a deadly systematic, devilish “cold war” mechanism that has claimed the lives of many brutally and more especially, in the silence of guns and false security. And until African leaders and the general populace decisively face this monster head-on, no matter how much local and international resources are lavished upon this continent, our story would not record significant changes. Therefore, corruption must be fought with all ruthless and democratic constructiveness that would have it expunged, and not pitied or compromised with, regardless of who are said to be the dastardly predators of the African masses.
As a matter of fact, Africa needs to see many and any of their former corrupt presidents and public officials effectively locked behind bars, as in South America and other parts of the world – along with other very stringent penalties; depending on the magnitude of their corruption, as would be determined by impartial, competent, robust and exclusive “fast-track courts.” Arguably, corruption has killed more people in Africa, than our civil wars.
In most of Africa, (especially Sub-Saharan Africa,) the salaries and wages of most of our civil servants/public workers are extremely ludicrous, to the point that even a 1000% increment would not match up to be a “start-up living wage scale;” excepting for a handful of top civil servants/public officials, who receive exorbitant benefits to feed their extravagant lifestyles, at the expense of the bulk of the masses. As a result, I would observe that most of our dysfunctional African systems create loopholes to perpetrate, what I would refer to as, “unavoidable corruption.” I call it “unavoidable corruption,” because, if you pay people, for instance, U. S. $ 100 per month, when their actual basic expenditure is U. S. $ 500, how do you expect them to be at work every day and take care of their basic needs? Realistically, (though not justified,) they would have to explore corrupt means to comfortably exist, or at least subsist with their families and extended dependants. That is why corruption has been invisibly institutionalized in most of our public service across the continent.
That is also why our governments have to decisively muster the unflinching political will to slash away all “wastages” and arrest all “leakages” within our public revenue collection and expenditure.
“Wastages” are the excess and frivolous expenditures that our budgetary allotments legitimately allocate to the very few functionaries, such as U. S. $ 150, 000.00 (one hundred and fifty thousand dollars) for presidential entertainment for the year, aside other unnecessary allotments of extra presidential projects, discretionarily identified by him/her. What about giving each law makers/ministers and some top government functionaries U. S. $ 100 per month as gas slip; when the average worker has no transport allowance, in spite of earning very low salaries, that could only realistically serve as round trip cost of transportation to work? In which case, the worker is made to work for virtually nothing in remuneration.What a heartless exploitative system!!! So, he/she would reasonably have to look for other alternative means of income to support his/her family – and in such a system, he/she is made to willingly or willy-nilly be compromised to corruption by the system, not necessarily by sinister choice.
Some may however argue that once a person is disciplined he/she would still remain incorruptible, regardless. And whereas I may agree, in exceptional cases, but generally, I think a system as depicted above would inadvertently make “corrupt devils out of saints” as it were. This is because, one cannot keep sacrificing for too long without being forced to compromise, when it is glaring that a few people are living in extreme opulence and extravaganza, while relegating you into subsistence living or rather still, extreme and callous deprivation, because of their heartless greed.
“Leakages” occur where our mineral and other extractive and vital resources are either siphoned to personal accounts and/or smuggled out unaccounted for, by certain unscrupulous persons; or also when deliberate syndicates of diverting tax revenues and shady deals are done by some public functionaries, in contrivance with some businessmen or concessionaries - like some huge fisheries and maritime resources that are said to have been unaccounted for in the West African coastal lines – in the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, through “black deals” done on the high seas; as flagged by some credible global maritime researchers, about two years ago. And in this light, I do proffer that our coastal and border surveillance mechanisms be greatly beefed up and made very robust to curb such revenue loses. As our maritime resources in coastal Africa, could be a very lucrative revenue base.
It would be noteworthy too that many aid funds and humanitarian donations given by both local and international actors, during health, natural and other disasters, unfortunately, have proven to fall casualty to corruption, by some of our heartless functionaries. I think, these and all other corruption predators and their contrivers should be brought to book; and all such funds and assets refunded or confiscated without disparity, whether from local or international investments and establishments; from the presidency to the least culprit of such treasonous acts - in addition to any jail and/or other legal penalties they may be made to serve.
All of such funds retrieved would be used to augment salaries and wages of public servants to reflect actual living wages that would increase people’s standard of living and generally boost our local revenue bases and economies. When we have sorted out these gross salary/wage inadequacies and disparities, then we can realistically face this dreadful “Herculean monster” of corruption ruthlessly, until it is extensively expunged from our African societies. Otherwise, no meaningful rapid national development can be carried on that would alleviate poverty and set our nations on the pedestal of sound, sustainable economic growth, industrialization and general prosperity.
My fervent continual prayer is that our African leaders do not only end with espousing populist political clichés, but will effect systematic and strategic plan of actions that would rapidly and effectively transform their countries and peoples, into the realistic glorious expectations and aspirations of the masses.
GOD BLESS AFRICA AND THE PAN-AFRICAN DREAM!!!
Apst. Dr. Abraham J. Williams
(Clergyman/Rights Advocate/Anti-Corruption Campaigner)