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The Shame of Plethora in the Midst of Horrible Poverty

The Shame of Plethora in the Midst of Horrible Poverty


D.Haile 04-03-18

In a country well governed poverty is something to be ashamed of …In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of “Confucius”- this conjures up whether good governance exists and proves the relationship between development and good governance.

Theoretically global drivers can play an important role in influencing state legitimacy depending on whether they help to generate incentives for better and more productive linkages between state and society or not. Empirical evidences show that global drivers more often play an important role in undermining linkages between state and society by generating perverse incentives for political elites influencing through advocacy groups and interest groups. For example, by providing access to unearned sources of income from natural resources rent and/or criminal activities, they effectively weaken elite incentives to engage with citizens, build public institutions and/or nurture the domestic economy. Three major features define contemporary western aid and overseas development policy. The first is the use of aid to promote open, ‘market friendly’ and competitive economies. This objective was embodied in the new conditionality of structural adjustment lending developed in the 1980s. Two further (and sometimes related) features have been added to the policy in the 1990s. These are support for democratization and the improvement of human right records on the one hand and insistence on what has come to be called ‘good governance’ on the other.

Material progress combined with spiritual decline is usually common. The clash of civilization we observe these days is celebrating the collapse of communism and cold war and the rise of globalization, with ideology disappearing as source of human identity while religion was returning to the front. In some events religions are being used as opium to keep the youth in stupor and victim of politicized religion. Funds are made to follow flags even with free trade imperialism. This means aid and donation are usually distorted by political calculation. Finally, donor-driven initiatives erode the home grown domestic policy space through debt structures, unfair trade practices and endless loan conditions that characterize donor-recipient relationships. It halts home grown development of democracy and autonomous government insulated from donor pressure, extremist pressure and interest groups pressure. The global context demands thinking beyond the canopy with attitude of think and communicate globally to act locally every time in providing local solutions to global problems.  The instructive lesson is thus to remain flexible and adoptable not dogmatic and rigid. Because the future is negotiable not predetermined destiny.


Corruption is not a new or recent phenomenon though it ballooned to its extreme levels during these days. The roots and genesis of corruption problems are decades in the making and the pestilence of inequality and corruption allure the feeling that life is unfair and precarious. Decades of empty promises for better living conditions and other unfulfilled commitments in combating poverty, corruption and indigent governance have left many people wary and suspicious of initiatives from any sphere of the government. The domino effect of corruption and indigent governance in managing public property assets like land shows enormous consequences on all sectors including economic development, poverty alleviation, the environment, political legitimacy, peace and security, and development cooperation.  

Corruption and the looting of state properties at the top send a negative signal to the other civil servants and can encourage a corrupt culture and unethical conduct all across the civil service structure and business community. Without a strong, competent and clean civil service, development reform is bound to fail. It has both direct and indirect impacts on the security of common property rights, on access to land, fair wealth distribution and on revenue generation for the state. It directly diverts public funds and assets away from the public sectors into the hands of the select few. Moreover, it directly undermines the public trust in the ruling government and governance processes, a factor essential for good governance and lasting development reforms. 

A corrupt bureaucratic system does not come out of a vacuum or from thin air. The genesis of corrupt and unfair practices is the system run by dysfunction corrupt and boredom rank and file party members of the ruling party. Moral deficit grows to practice delinquency. Political corruption takes place at the highest levels of the political system, and can thus be distinguished from administrative or bureaucratic corruption.  ‘What would happen so iron ores if gold rusts?’ A highly corrupt political system breeds a highly corrupt bureaucratic system. Political corruption in the form of wealth accumulation or extraction occurs when government officials use and abuse their hold on power to extract from government assets, from government revenues, from the private sector, and from the economy at large. Bureaucratic corruption takes place at the implementation end of politics, for example in government services such as land administration and when the tax department links with contraband community. Political corruption takes place at the formulation end of policies, where decisions are made on the distribution of the nation’s wealth and assets and on the rules of the game. Extraction takes place mainly in the form of the looting of state properties, soliciting bribes in bidding processes for concessions, procurement, in privatization processes such as the disposal and transfer of state property, land and in taxation or negotiation of concession fees.

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Extracted public resources and public money are used for power preservation and power extension purposes, usually taking the form of favoritism and patronage politics. It includes the politically motivated disposal and transfer of state property resources. By giving preferences to private companies and individuals for land concessions such as real-estate, agro-industry, hunting lodges, forest and extractive industries, the perpetrators can obtain party patronage and campaign funds, and by paying off the governmental institutions of checks and control they can stop investigations and state property audits and gain judicial impunity. We know corruption has heat but no light or color. The elites use the state as an administrative expedience and a principal vehicle for accumulating personal wealth through an assortment of corrupt methods; they send their children to the best and prestigious education institutions and their families to the safe heaven residences. Corruption diverts resources that can be utilized to satisfy the basic needs of people and achieve sustainable development. Growing corruption is causing fury. Pestilence of corruption halts investment and strenuous work effort of citizens. Corruption and nepotism is one of the sources of income inequality and poverty, especially when the lack of investment and employment opportunity is acute. Watch out! It is universally held and accepted wisdom that work or job is a force for common good and unemployment is a bitter curse for humanity. 

So, public monies siphoned off by corrupt leaders, public officials and deposited in the West must be returned home. Corruption and nepotism must be reduced and jobs must be created. Adherence to meritocracy and international human rights conventions and norms as well as good governance discipline, transparency, fair and equal treatments are milestones for legitimate success that any leadership and management at all levels of decision making should not miss in everyday business decision.

The rules governing social and economic interactions should be predictable and stable. The people and all actors must comply with the governing rules. Any personality and identity status should not be above the governing rules of the democratic game. A mystifying state is as a rule defined with an opacity and unpredictability in its decision and policy circle process. The difference between public participation, engagement and public relation exercises should be clear. Because what we usually observe is a public relation exercise as a substitute for participation and engagement.

Corruption in the honey of power is another serious form of corruption. If not restrained, those who cling to power flee to contract military and security forces to their several interests. Though history tells us those who cling to absolute power end up with none, there must be fixed term of office by law in key power positions. If not contending illicit personal entrenchment of political elites, it eventually leads to the pestilence of corruption in the honey of power grip and elite manipulation, local capture, cronyism of cronies, patrimonialism, monstrous system of control and terror will be the public way of life. For those who seek power as vehicle to personal wealth and prestige, the reason why there is such fierce competition to get into government and stay in power is that once they are in the palace, they have a license to virtually print money and it is conventional wisdom that money makes the world go round. The outcry for progress and better living should come up with response to the situation into commonplace life. It is true; change is never easy, as it requires looking at things differently and deriving different conclusions from vacant observations. Everybody wants change for the better. The tendency as human beings is however to continue along the path that is already followed, as change implies risk and navigating the unknown. But actually, doing the same thing in an old fashion and expect a different outcome does not hold true. The same people are naturally likely do the same thing and then expecting a different outcome from the same people is folly, new things are expected more from people with new energy and fresh perspective and of course hopes are running high.

For some people, there is no impossible except the word impossible itself. Like the saying goes “a good salesperson can sell ice to the Eskimos and sand in a desert”. Wining short lived popularity and acceptance is so simple. It is however, short lived popularity and acceptance, because things are much easier to say than to do for many politicians indulge in competitive clientelism. Always one has to speak and do what is strategically right. Accomplishment of jobs is not a matter of euphemism or rhetoric parlance and neither smooth ride to success. It is deeds that count, not fine words. Hence never copy anything if you cannot paste properly. The highest and toughest courage is to dare to be oneself in the face of challenges and adversity. Vested interests in a prevailing setting certainly oppose changes and persistently insist for status-quo. Resistance to change is inevitable. In this case, it is generally important to change the whole thing than exhausting to understand it. Note also that to accept does not mean to agree and to change does not mean to force. Yet ‘no’ does not mean never. The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it is to create a culture where everyone can have ideas, vision and hope to feel that all citizens are valued. The chief leader is expected to enable the people unleash potentials of production and management. One of the true tests of competent leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency. Primacy of political will and commitment to dynamic and transformational change is expected among many other things. Leadership begins at home, intellectuals solve problems, and geniuses prevent them “Albert Einstein”. Change should take place first internally in the mind. Change the mind-set, change the persons there around, then the organization changes, change the political arena and finally, gradually but surely, the nation changes. In order to succeed, one has to pick fights that can win otherwise it will be a losing battle.

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