NEWS

This section provides readers with the latest news regarding anti-corruption issues worldwide.

Africa: The lives of the filthy rich African presidents and their families

The phrase “let them eat cake” is widely attributed to Marie-Antoinette (1755-93), the Queen consort of Louis XVI. She is supposed to have said this when she was told that the French populace had no bread to eat. This statement perhaps best exemplifies the insensitive nature of the lifestyles of African leaders. There are many ways of gauging the vanity of some African leaders. You could count the monuments, universities, football stadiums, hospitals, statutes, highways and schools that bears their names or are dedicated to them. When it comes to lifestyles, some African leaders have no inhibitions. They spend lavishly on birthdays, anniversaries, statues and even weddings.  The money ranges from direct siphoning from government coffers and public agencies, to forcing contributions from officials, friends, corporate organisations and kickbacks from multinationals keen on securing deals for infrastructure development, oil and gas and other natural resources exploration. The lifestyles of African presidents and their families reflect the tragedy of resource-rich African countries where the leaders spend millions on luxury items, as the ordinary people live in abject poverty, lacking access to basic amenities and services such as clean drinking water, health care and education. Recently, the Angolan government spent $35 million to mark President José Eduardo dos Santos’s 72nd birthday. The money is said to have been spent on various activities that were undertaken in the country including sporting activities, a state dinner and a talk by the president.