“Sadly, here in the 21st century, all those romantic
tales of the press fighting corruption and bringing criminal activity in
government to book are all but ancient history”! -Patrick Henningsen
Corruption has been viewed by many observers as a global cancer.
Across the world, it can be found in almost every major organization:
religious groups, political institutions, educational institutions,
financial institutions, the oil industry, within the media itself and
many other places. However, when it comes to corruption in government,
Africa has consistently been the spotlight, especially on issues
pertaining to bribery or the looting of public funds mostly by the
politicians. This has been the major reason why many Africans
consistently find politics as a lucrative business. Indeed, these are
There are however a few passionate individuals who may get into
politics as the only viable means to fight corruption and to help
improve the living conditions of the people. That notwithstanding, such
desires are usually transient as many of such leaders later find
themselves in the shadows of the very system they promised to tackle
just a little while ago. Once such politicians get into the system and
find out how much money they could raise for their families within a
short period, the temptation becomes very strong and many of them end up
becoming more corrupt than their predecessors. Corruption is a very
serious problem that requires a strong political will and a sound moral
background to tackle. But unfortunately, even the very people who have
strong moral backgrounds are not interested in politics. This has given
the corrupt-minded people a field’s day. Fighting corruption in Africa
will therefore continue to be a tough battle.
For instance, before winning the elections in 2000, J.A Kuffuor, a former president of Ghana declared “zero tolerance for corruption”
as one of his major campaign promises to the people of Ghana. However,
after two successive terms in office, in his own confession he said: corruption is as old as Adam.
To many of us Africans, it was a clear indication that indeed the fight against corruption in Africa is a lost cause. Nevertheless, it is a fight that is worth the try.
Propaganda: A Tool of The Ruling Elites
Under normal circumstances, it is the media which ought to put the
state institutions in check and help minimize corruption in society.
Unfortunately, it is very frustrating that today’s media has rather
become the megaphone of most corrupt governments across the
Africa and the world. Instead of exposing corruption in government, the
media continues to feed the people with propaganda and gross misinformation.
Propaganda has been defined by many experts as “a deliberate attempt
to persuade people, by any available media, to think and then behave in a
manner desired by the source. It is really the means to an end.”
Propaganda is a process and in the present age the media have become
very useful tools of propaganda.
For instance, Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman offered a ‘propaganda
model’ of how the mainstream media work in the USA. They “trace the
routes by which money and power are able to filter out the news fit to print,
marginalise dissent, and allow the government and dominant private
interest to get their messages across to the public.” In their research,
they identified a set of news “filters” through which information must
pass, which are:
- ownership of the dominant mass media institutions
- advertisement as their source of income
- the fact that the media itself depends on government and business industries for information.
It is therefore not surprising that many of the news items in the
state media today are mainly issues that attempt to white-wash
government performance, while deliberately ignoring government failures.
Meanwhile corporate lobbyists and big businesses of today can also
buy the independence of the press itself. As a result, they can even
influence “independent research” and manipulate the results such that
the outcome will always suit their business interests.
For instance, we must always ask ourselves: how genuine can any “independent research”
be when such research projects are always financed and completely
sponsored by the very corporations that seek to promote an agenda with
the outcome of such research? Wouldn’t it be more useful to have a
completely independent research body which has no link whatsoever to
these corporate lobbyists to be tasked with the sole responsibility of
conducting such research? How difficult will it be for some board of
directors to finance a research project and will not be able to
influence the results?
This is the major reason why I have always found the outcome of many of these so-called independent researches
to be more questionable. Because, for me, it appears corporations
merely pay off their researchers (who may not necessarily be
independent), to fine-tuned some “findings” such that these results will
suit a particular agenda. Propaganda has been the major problem we have
in society today, since businesses will always find a way to meet their
profitable interest even if it means twisting the facts. Sadly, the
media is in bed with this system and have always remained silent even
where there are more questions than answers.
How The Media Condones Corruption
Corruption has existed in Africa and has become a cancer because; the
very institutions that bear the responsibility to help fight this
problem do not realize this responsibility. Most unfortunately, some of
the media are themselves becoming part of the problem as their
continuous silence is creating conducive environment for corruption to
flourish in Africa. The foreign press has all the details of the very
institutions that facilitate corruption in Africa. Yet, they will never
do anything about it. After all it is these moneys that keep their
financial institutions and some of the media afloat.
In his article: “Hiding Africa’s Looted Funds, Silence of Western Media”, the author expresses his worry about media blackout on the very system that sustains corruption in Africa:
“Even though it is a common knowledge that western banks are
acting as safe havens for looted funds from Africa, very little
attention is received from the western media to expose them.
The media tend to focus their energies on the corrupt African leaders,
with little or no mention at all, as to where the monies they have
stolen are being kept”.
Of course the Western press have no interest in exposing how their
financial institutions have been facilitating corruption in Africa. But
the questions we must ask ourselves are these: where are the local African media? What
are they also doing to ensure that such a cancer that threatens
Africa’s survival is completely eliminated from the system? Are the
local media expecting the western press to take over their
responsibilities of fighting corruption in Africa? For how long must
corruption in Africa continue before the media does something about it?
The silence of the local media has contributed to the woes of our
people. For instance, the oil industries have over the years been
causing serious problems in the local communities where this black gold
is exploited. Water bodies are usually polluted, with little or no
regard whatsoever for the health of people within the community. In the
mining sector, health and safety officials have been collaborating with
illegal miners as they continue to the waters. Environmental health
officials continue to ignore the danger that is being caused the
irresponsible disposal of waste across Africa by these foreign
companies. In Somalia for instance, millions are dying every day of
cancer because of irresponsible waste disposal by the foreign companies
who continue to make billions of corporate profits at the expense of the
In spite of these challenges, the media continues to ignore the need
to scrutinize the status quo and help bring those responsible to book.
Instead, everyday’ discussion has been politics. From morning shows, the
newspaper reviews to the late night discussion on TV and radio,
everything is always politics. It is as if politics is all that matters
Anytime the media focuses attention on a politician, the scenario is
always those in opposition, as if corruption in government doesn’t
count. Therefore by the time the ruling party goes into opposition, many
corrupt politicians would have had a field day, looting the nation for
as long as they can afford.
All these are indication that the current political framework must be
modified to meet the real needs of the people. It cannot be assumed
that opposition figures are the only ones that are guilty of corruption.
In fact the real corrupt practices are being perpetrated by the ruling
elites which often go unchecked. This is the reason why the local
African media need to sit up. The government of the day may not
investigate itself. The media must therefore take up the responsibility
to help expose corrupt practices that threaten the very foundation of
our future. The silence of the local media is really worrying. Until
then, it must be accepted that the local African media has lost one of
its major focus in society. I am therefore challenging the local African
media to show some seriousness in the fight against corruption in
Africa by focusing on the state institutions and ensuring that all major
corrupt practices are exposed to the general public, instead of waiting
for these officials to go into opposition before being held
The writer is a Pan-African analyst and the founder of the “ Project Pan-Africa (PPA)
an organization that was established to unlock the minds of the African
youth to take Africa’s destiny into their hands. The PPA is highly
determined to provide the biggest platform that will give exposure to
all hidden but exceptional talents in Africa. Please visit us at:
and support the project. PPA is grateful to
and all media partners that support the vision. You may reach
him by Email at: [email protected]