The Vampire Africa State

Dr. George B.N. Ayittey, a Distinguished Professor of Economics at the American University, Washington, D.C., wrote in his book, Africa in Chaos, and I quote:

“Government” as it is known in the West does not exist in much of Africa. Leaving aside the democratic requirement that a “government” must be by the people and for the people, one expects at a minimum a “government” to be responsive to the needs of the people; or at (the very) least, to perform some services for its people. But even this most basic requirement for “government” is lacking in Africa. “Government” as an entity is totally divorced from the people, perceived by those running it as a vehicle not to serve but to fleece the people.

Dishonesty, thievery, and peculation pervade the public sector. Public servants embezzle state funds; high-ranking ministers are on the take. The chief bandit is the head of state himself. For example, President Mobutu Sese Seko of Congo was not satisfied with his personal fortune of US$10 billion; he stole an entire gold-mining region, Kilo-moto, which covers 32,000 square miles and reportedly has reserves of 100 tons of gold.

Even diplomats cannot resist the routine plunge into frenzied banditry. In 1993 a Nigerian envoy to the United Nations was involved in unbridled embezzlement of large sums of money at the diplomatic mission. In 1994 the Ugandan ambassador to Nigeria vanished with US$3.5 million intended for the renovation of his embassy premises. Then on 10 October 1994, the Rwandan foreign minister disappeared with about US$187,000 he was carrying in a suitcase to fund his country’s United Nations mission in New York. Earlier in July 1994, Rwanda’s ambassador to the United States absconded with about US$2 million.

It is disheartening and shameful when Africa’s own ambassadors, who incessantly appeal to the international community for humanitarian aid, themselves exercise no scruples whatsoever in grabbing what they can from the little aid meant for the poor, starving peasants. One would have thought that of all people, Rwanda’s ambassadors – the very people who appealed for humanitarian aid – would comport themselves in a way that would encourage others to help their country.

But in Africa, government officials do not serve the people. The African state has been reduces to a mafia-like bazaar, where anyone with an official designation can pillage at will. In effect, it is a “state” that has been hijacked by gangsters, crooks, and scoundrels. They have seized and monopolized both political and economic power to advance their own selfish and criminal interests, not to develop their economies. Their overarching obsession is to amass personal wealth, gaudily displayed in flashy automobiles, fabulous mansions and a bevy of fawning women. Helping the poor, promoting economic growth or improving the standard of living of their people is anathema to the ruling elites. “Food for the people! People’s power! Houses for the masses!” are simply empty slogans that are designed to fool the people and the international community.

In case after case, African government officials get rich by misusing their positions. Faithful only to their foreign bank accounts, these official buccaneers have no sense of morality, justice, or even patriotism. They would kill, maim, and even destroy their own countries to acquire and protect their booty because, as functional illiterates, they are incapable of using the skills and knowledge they acquired from education to get rich on their own by creating wealth.

The inviolate ethic of the vampire elites is self-aggrandizement and self-perpetuation in power. To achieve those objectives, they subvert every key institution of the government: the civil service, judiciary, military, media, and banking. As a result, these institutions become paralyzed. Laxity, ineptitude, indiscipline, and lack of professionalism thus flourish in the public sector. Of course, Africa has a police force and judiciary system to catch and prosecute the thieves. But the police are themselves highway robbers, under orders to protect the looters, and many of the judges are themselves crooks. As a result, there are no checks against brigandage.

The worst is the military – the most trenchantly perverted institution in Africa. In any normal, civilized society, the function of the military is to defend the territorial integrity of the nation and the people against aggression. In Africa, the military is instead locked in combat with the very people it is supposed to defend.