Saturday 8 June 2013
My last entry here talked about the stench of corruption in Ottawa surrounding the misuse of expense accounts in the Senate. Of course, since then, there have been almost daily “new revelations” about how Miss Piggy (Duffy) and the others made money off the system while wallowing in the dirt.
Corruption at this level has been big news here in Canada. It’s not new – think of Brian Mulroney’s “envelopes stuffed with cash” but it has been the lead story on most radio and television newscasts and been the above-the-fold story in our national newspapers. I can’t help but compare that with so many of the tin pot dictatorships in continental Africa where such corruption is considered the norm. Our situation is small peanuts by comparison but that doesn’t reduce its seriousness.
Think about Ben Ali in Tunisia, Ghadaffi in Libya, Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Houphouët-Boigny in Côte d'Ivoire, Boumediene in Algeria, Biya in Cameroon and so many others you would need reams of paper to list them all. It’s almost impossible to determine their wealth.
Robert Mugabe is considered to be one of the richest. He is a pariah in much of the western world although he was welcomed at the Vatican for the installation of the new pope. Maybe he drops a huge blood diamond into the collection plate or something. He has a deal with the Chinese to mine blood diamonds and he and his cronies are reaping the huge wealth from that operation while Zimbabweans are starving. Not his problem apparently.
Some appear on the scene as liberators, while others arrive as freedom fighters. Eventually they show their real faces as tyrants, having looted the state treasuries and wanting to indemnify themselves from accountability. Most of them, if not all, leave office as multi-millionaires or, in some cases, billionaires with so much gold in Swiss banks they could pull their countries out of deadly poverty.
In most cases, there is a military link to their rise in power, but also strong tribal or clan dynamics. Think about the Rwandan genocidal mass slaughter of the Tutsis by the Hutus that took place in 1994. The genocide was supported and coordinated by the national government as well as by military and other officials and mass media, but at its base, it was a tribal/clan war.
Why does such corruption and lack of respect for human life seem so endemic in that part of the world?
News this morning from South Africa is that 94-year old Nelson Mandela is back in hospital and in serious condition. He is esteemed as a hero in South Africa but even there, there are those who are trying to make money off Mandela’s legacy including his ex-wife and grandchildren. The ANC government leaders went to visit him at his palatial retirement home a few months ago and brought along photographers so they could prop-up the old man up in a chair, record their visit and claim his endorsement while he apparently is barely able to speak.
Greed is not confined to the African continent or the political circus in Ottawa. Where there’s a buck to be made, there are those who will take advantage of the system. The scope of the crime is not a factor. If fraud or theft is proven, then the perps should go to jail – whether in Zimbabwe or Ottawa.
21,634 days and counting
21,634 days and counting