Corruption is the very malice by which virtue and ethics secede to hedonism and self-serving vice. Corruption and hubris span back thousands of years and have served as the pillars to many an empire and equally a downfall. In recent times it is not unlikely to find corruption in the seats of government or establishments near and far. As globalization and enterprise have brought upon promise, so too are the promises, certainties, and risks of tainted ethics and corruption run rampant. The effects these meandering and slithery codes of conduct have upon the general population can be devastating. There can be minor inconveniences regarding taxes, and the range of mistakes can travel all the way up to costing someone their life. So then, it is true that while all corruption is not the same, it all does work to hurt someone, and many a someone at that. The following showcases ten examples of government corruption today, and how it can be a devastating blow to those under the rule.
The goal of any country is to be a safe and prosperous land where one can live peacefully and fruitfully. That is the human dream, the ability to face minimal adversity and attain maximum curiosity and explore those human truths and gifts the world has to offer. For Guinea-Bissau, this is far from a reality. Instability has been rampant in the country since 1974, and unfortunately no president has carried out a full term since 1994. The country has quickly fallen down a slippery slope into the hands of gangs and drug traffickers exploiting the country. There exists tensions with Islamist extremists and between different Islamic Extremists within the country. The military had a strong presence in politics, but under international presence, has stayed neutral in affairs so as to avoid conflict. Military higher-ups being arrested has slowed down any military presence, allowing drug trafficking to run healthily in the region. Because of Cashew farming and nothing else readily available in the country, almost 70 percent live with under two dollars of income a day. All the brutal blows of poverty make waning political siding and the drug issues a lot more difficult to deal with appropriately when the main focus day to day is surviving.
It is to no surprise at all that North Korea is amongst one of the most corrupt countries exiting today. The very origins of the country were founded on heavy propaganda, and the idolization of their leaders. The country continuously faces difficulties providing for its citizens amongst the many sanctions placed around it, as well as the mismanagement of funds and any aid it receives. The United Nations human rights report has claimed that officials demanding bribes has only made it more difficult for the people of North Korea to sustain themselves. Some defectors of North Korea stated in the report that officials can often get away with murder if they were to so choose to kill. The corruption runs further as North Korea has attributed its famished population to sanctions for its nuclear weapons, when it was reported that military spending actually takes precedence over feeding the constituents. North Korea has spoken avidly against defectors, calling them out as imposters spreading lies about the country. What makes this form of corruption so unbearable and daunting for day to day life is that there is no escape from the authoritarian regime. North Korea remains so militant and tightly secluded from the outside world that many of its civilians have no way of seeking help or refuge. Life is difficult and surviving even becomes a question.
Venezuela is another perpetrator of unrest and corruption, located in South America, under the rule of Nicolas Maduro. Embezzlement has been one of the large oppressions the people of Venezuela have had to face in recent years under Maduro. He has been responsible for the theft of billions of dollars from the people, and illegal embezzling of gold from the Venezuelan reserves. Unfortunately, since Maduro also controls the printing of currency, he ballooned and inflated the value of the Bolivar by over 99 percent, rendering the national currency virtually useless and financially hurting those who had saved or had invested prior. With the inflation in the country, many have found themselves in worse poverty, or in poverty because of the dramatic shift. Aside from financial ruin, the government has been militant about dispersing protests violently, and has been quick to hush opponents of the government. He has carried out killings in 2017 with the Special Action Force of the National Police which he still uses to carry out killings with today. With food and medicine also depleting, the population of Venezuela has had to face extreme hardship under Maduro’s rule. Life is impacted by the corruption in Venezuela such that there is no choice or option to leave poverty. The realities are that there is little resource, little money, and little room for voice.
Equatorial Guinea is yet another African country aloof in corruption. Despite being amongst the wealthier African countries, and having a healthy income, the residents and small population have seen little if any growth economically. The discovery of oil twenty years ago quickly brought riches to the country, but mismanagement has proved to be devastating to the people. Education has been less funded and encouraged, despite some schools seeing only superficial renovations. Medicine is difficult to gain access to as there are only two hospitals. Both hospitals are funded by the people, but one is private and the other is public. That being said, both require payments which often go above what most can afford. Buildings have been erected, but only as a suspected guise to embezzle money on behalf of the president. Lastly, there has been little done to venture into sustainable sources of exports for Equatorial Guinea, despite the oil reserves having a predicted lifespan into only 2035. With limited options for economic growth, and questionable wellness, the people of Equatorial Guinea face adversity at the hands of a corrupt government.
Sudan follows pursuit in the realm of corruption. Sudan has a large issue with corrupt policemen. Bribes are common and in many times a form of extortion as the police are poorly paid. Petty bribery is common and many higher-up officials have investments in government owned enterprises. There exists corruption in the public works where getting electric or water access requires gifts and superfluous payment to the utility agencies. There are reports of nepotism and corruption in the form of political leaders all owning and sharing large stakes in the enterprises. Up until recently also, the treatment of women was harsh, such that women were virtually controlled by men and could be arrested or detained because of dress.
Afghanistan has had a troubled history with corruption before it regained its independence. Having had a rough history with illicit drugs, some trace amounts of that history remain. At the borders, shipments and its contents are often overlooked with a good bribe. Corruption is not easily prosecuted, allowing complaints to go unnoticed, allowing for more corruption to occur. Integrity Watch Afghanistan estimates that an overwhelming 3 billion dollars were paid in bribes alone for 2016. For prisoners who completed their sentences, they were often not allowed to leave unless their families paid for a release. Since Opium is a major export for Afghanistan, interests remain largely in its production and exportation with many officials holding stake in the industry. Many militias are funded by the poppyseed and opium, and the very militias own a large stake and influence on the economy. It is difficult for upwards mobility when there are limited options for work, the country is in severe poverty, and the government runs largely on bribes.
Yemen is another country which faces extreme bouts of corruption. Economic competition is difficult in Yemen given the harsh nepotism throughout the country that favors trade between the elite. The judicial system is also difficult to work with as it carries many instances where bribery is necessary, as seen with many other countries mentioned prior. Legal disputes often are won by the highest paying individual, especially in rural areas. Public Services offer licenses and utilities almost exclusively with the exchange of a gift for the services. Although the government has anti-corruption frameworks, it has not implemented helpful laws to actually carry out much investigation and prosecution to the offices and people caught with corruption. The disheartening blow this takes for the average citizen is not having much of a hope in economic prosperity due to a stifled competition, as well as having heavy bribes to pay, and needing to provide gifts for public services. The legal system is equally as disappointing as should one ever find themselves in a legal dispute, the highest payer will ultimately be successful.
Syria is another country which finds itself in deep troubles when it comes to the topic of corruption. The jarring truth about Syria is that the president’s cousin Rami Makhlouf controls roughly 60 % of the Syrian economy. Not entirely a result of corruption directly, after the war in Syria, the GDP dropped from 60 billion to only about 12 billion. That is a massive drop that regardless of any corruption would ruin the dreams and opportunities of its constituents in any country. A drop like that means a drop for everyone and with less money comes less opportunities. When one man controls so much of the economy, it raises questions and difficulties for everyone in the country. Almost single handedly he has to repair the country and its major cities after all the devastation it incurred during the war. Because of so many private enterprises owned and operated by Makhlouf, it has led to many being upset and feeling robbed or under control of Makhlouf’s ventures and decisions.
South Sudan is yet another corrupt state that disenfranchises its people through its practices. The judicial system is revolving around those in power. If someone has friends in high positions, regardless of being prosecuted, pardons exist to liberate or revoke any rulings against them. The police are seen as corrupt and often demand bribes. Public service is riddled with corruption, expecting gifts for services or aid. Because of land rights not being very formally licensed, it has led to a lot of conflict and dispute. Censorship is also rampant in South Sudan, despite it claiming to be a free and open speech advocate. Given its civil war, there are caveats to what is allowable free speech. In effect what this creates for the average citizen is a myriad of troubles. The police once again demand bribes, prosecutions go through, but depending on who it is, it all may be for naught. Speaking out against the government can be choked out and then there is no voice and no representation. This is a difficult reality to live with, especially when Sudan has promising enterprise given its rich oil reserves and the opportunities in it.
The very last list in the examples of the countries with the highest amounts of corruption is none other than Somalia. Somalia is amongst the most corrupt countries in the world. Law is arbitrary at the local level, with civil courts not being a helpful or reliable source for dispute resolving. The Sharia Law that takes a heavy precedence in local law is also not always in working favor for the general public. Police roam with impunity throughout, and there is not a lot of control over police, despite it being a governmental organization. The military lies often about its troop numbers to incur greater funding, and there has been some instability, given the replacement of a general for corruption. Public service is in shambles following the many armed conflicts and never fully recovered from 1991, when their infrastructures saw great collapse. Customs frequently accepts bribes, earning millions of dollars monthly. There are struggles between private and governmental ownership of natural gas resources. Although there is free speech in theory, the actual practice and reality is that it is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in the world. In 2013 and 2014 several journalists were killed. Somalia also faces many frequent civil armed conflicts.
What is life like with corruption? The countries mentioned describe a picture of what life is like under a government not run by its people, but run by a few who thrive in serving themselves. At the expense of the masses, it leads to many shattered realities and broken lives.
One of the most recurrent themes is a broken judicial system. This impacts any member of a society by having no real form to challenge its government or challenge an individual. If there are disputes between land, between claims of violence, or any wrongdoing, it is a court that they go to. The courts in many of these countries however either do not serve with justice, but with the highest bidding defendant. In some cases, there is a very poorly established sense of law, and in some other cases like Somalia, it sadly ends up to whoever is the most likely to win a skirmish. With no sense of security, just that aspect alone makes for a difficult and insecure life in their home country.
Following security is the theme of broken policing. If the law is not designed to help, there are the armed individuals that are there to protect the people of their country. However, again, the reality is often that many policemen work with bribes or against those who need help. If you are a woman in Sudan, the likelihood of you being helped is slim to virtually none given that men hold precedence and weight, and the policemen usually favor the men’s accusations. If you find yourself being detained for no reason, you find yourself also then needing to fulfill a bribe for no reason. Likewise, in some of the countries mentioned, like Afghanistan, your term is up, but the fee has not been paid, and so in misery life must continue in the poor conditions.
As if that weren’t all unbearable, there is limited economic growth in many of the countries mentioned, and a severe stifling of voice should you speak up against the conditions in your country. Nepotism and a government that silences its people creates for an overall oppressed population.
The great answer to the impacts that corruption plays for the average man and woman of each country is that life is formatted and designed as the ultimate challenge, it is a paralyzing effort to escape being doomed to subjugation by those in power and remaining dependent on them forever. Corruption may seem like an inconvenience, but when surrounded by inconveniences, life quickly becomes one massive herculean challenge of poor survival.