Gambia Must Fight Corruption.

A British High Commissioner caused a storm in Kenya during Moi’s Dictatorship by saying that “The Kenyan Elite is so corrupt that they eat until they vomit on their Gucci shoes” – or something similar. Some 20 years later, Kenya’s Anti-Corruption Commission is trying to “life-style audit officials with top-of-the-range vehicles, multi-million shilling homes, business ventures and are regularly on expensive overseas trips, while their voters can hardly afford three meals a day”.

The Commission’s 1st Chairman had to run for his life to England some fifteen years ago, and nothing has changed there because today we are told that “efforts by the anti-corruption agency to investigate the rampant corruption being carried out in county governments continues to face resistance from governors … supporters of Governor Godana Doyo attacked and injured anti-corruption detectives as they searched for documents at the county’s Treasury in investigations into a Sh271 million ($2.4 million) payout for a road construction project that had not been carried out”.

Supporters of Uhuru and Ruto will not allow the Anti-Corruption Commission to target those close to the Presidency and their party – who happen to be the seriously corrupt in league with the business elite that is adept at facilitating massive corruption.

In this case we are told a $2.4 million road project budget was pocketed. But this is a drop in the ocean compared to the seriously big corruption that really makes the offenders vomit (out of gluttony) on their “Gucci shoes”. Hospital funds, school budgets, farm subsidies, etc, etc, are all pocketed. The result is that the nation remains under-developed, except for the corrupt elite who send their children to top universities abroad and build palatial homes abroad. In The Gambia, a story I once heard was how a connected doctor owning a chemist outlet privately sold malaria medicine meant for the poor people during the rainy season. Just imagine the number of lives lost because of one individual’s greed.

For Gambia to truly develop and harness the goodwill of development partners, an effective Anti-Corruption Commission with real teeth must be established – and be allowed to work without fear or favour. The ACC and its Chairman must also be protected by the government – the risk will be similar to that faced by the IEC Chairman during the last election. As in Kenya, and in Nigeria too where the ACC Chairman has been targeted by those he was investigating, it will only be bravest Gambians who will undertake the task of fighting corruption.

The corrupt elite is a Mafia and extremely powerful. Can even the government itself be brave enough to establish an independent Anti-Corruption Commission? On the other hand, if the government is really serious about developing the country can it afford not to take on the corrupt elite and officials?

Poverty-stricken Yahya Jammeh came into power promising to tackle corruption. The elite had a meeting with him and promised to enrich him if “he left the business elite alone to develop the country”. The poverty stricken anti-corruption Yahya Jammeh ended his days in power as the most corrupt African president of his generation – assisted by the business elite who did indeed “develop” Jammeh.

Gambia must establish an effective Anti-Corruption Commission and “life-style audit officials with top-of-the-range vehicles, multi-million shilling homes, business ventures and are regularly on expensive overseas trips, while their voters can hardly afford three meals a day”.

Dida Halake,

Notting Hill,

London, W10 5SG.