chapter  2
Understanding the Politics of Elite Corruption in Africa
Pages 10

High-level corruption in Africa has been driven by many motivations, but the two salient ones are the acquisition of personal wealth and preserving a government in power. African rulers have been concerned, even engrossed, with the twin objectives of staying in power and building an economic base for themselves and their close allies. In the absence of a strong indigenous business sector, historically it has been the state in most African nations that has provided the resources and the means through which both private wealth could be accumulated and political support engendered. Because the state has been vital as a conduit for private accumulation and regime maintenance, intense struggles have ensued to attain or retain state power. As we argue, state corruption has been integral to the exigencies of preserving power and promoting personal wealth in many African countries. Abundant opportunities have also existed for African rulers to pursue their vital personal and political interests in corrupt ways. We argue that political factors have created the conditions for elite corruption to prevail with impunity. In many countries the executive has possessed a high degree of discretion in state decision-making. In presidential regimes pervasive throughout the Africa region, legislatures, elections, judiciaries, opposition political parties, civil society organizations (CSOs) and international donors have experienced limitations in holding African rulers accountable for their actions and decisions regarding the use of state resources.