Many African nations top the list of most corrupt countries in the world. Western countries, rightfully so, condemn and threaten African leaders that do not work to curb graft in their countries. It is true that the status of corruption is hindering economic and social development growth! In Africa but there is something hypocritical about how Western countries view the vice.
Juxtaposing the United States and African countries, we see Africa’s state of corruption in the form of conmen and government officials paying and taking bribes to enrich themselves at the cost of many, but the United States simply has a more sophisticated approach and term for bribery known as lobbying.
While corruption impacts political and economic policies to benefit individuals, lobbying impacts policies to benefit society at large. Corruption is more common in developing countries with lobbying is common in “civilized” countries and has more economic benefits. We, however, know intuitively that bribery and lobbying are in so many ways similar. Both involve back-door negotiations to use government or institutional policies and power to get favor for a specific cause or outcome. In Africa, the rich give money to those with political power to get favors. In the USA, lobbyists give money to a Senator’s political campaign to get him in power and thereafter call in favors.
There are views, which state that the briber wants to circumvent the law, and the lobbyist wants to change it for the good of everyone. The problem is, both methods can become unfair ways to gain influence because conflict of interests will always come into play. Both lobbying and corruption impact the population at large, putting mass audiences at the will of those with the money and power to impact politics. Matter of fact, lobbying might be more dangerous than graft. In the case of corruption, the person giving the bribe opens themselves to extortion from the corrupt officials receiving the bribe. Given that contracts cannot be written because bribing is illegal, there is nothing to hold the corrupt official to the deal, or to stop him from demanding for more.
Lobbying, however puts the politician at the mercy of the lobbyist as in, the politician will work to meet promises made to those who put him in power. Time and time again in the US, there have been national debates about gun ownership following several mass shootings and killings. Politicians however tiptoe around the issue because of a fear of the pro-gun lobbyists who put them in power.
Point is, there is nothing great about corruption. The Western world is right to condemn acts that are leaving many in poverty while enriching a select few. We condemn them too and hope that African find solutions to it. However, let he who has no sin, be the first to cast a stone. We are all dealing with some form of corruption and must use our voices to make sure our elected officials all work for the common good of all and not for a selected few.