The president of Mauritius resigns amid corruption scandal

Yet another African president has been engulfed by corruption scandal as Mauritius President, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim resigns.

On Saturday, Africa’s only female president announced her resignation amid credit card fraud allegations.

Controversies surrounding the biodiversity scientist’s resignation began in 2016, when was listed as a director on controversial Angolan businessman, Álvaro Sobrinho’s Planet Earth Institute (PEI) foundation. She began using funds from the foundation for state functions, leading to the straw that broke the camels back as she used a Platinum credit card offered by PEI for personal purchases- jewellery and luxury items worth at least 25,000 euros ($30,000).

Though she has vehemently denied these allegations and swore to fight back legally, her lawyer, Yousouf Mohamed -third female Mauritius head of state- decided to resign “in the country’s best interest so as to prevent a constitutional crisis, as she does not want the country to suffer.”

The office of the presidency in a statement, noted that the president had an identical credit card from the same bank which she unintentionally used for private expenses and that the sum of $27,000 (£19,335) had been refunded to the sister organization of PEI.

FORCEFUL RESIGNATION OF AFRICAN LEADERS, A TREND OR A FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION?

While Gurib-Fakim’s exit which comes to effect on March 23rd may seem as a ‘wardrobe scandal’, there is more that meets the eyes as it is becoming a reoccurrence in the continent.

In the space of 5 months, 3 African presidents have resigned.

Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe was forced to resign in November 2017 after a military take-over. In his resignation letter submitted to the parliament, he stated “I Robert Gabriel Mugabe in terms of section 96 of the constitution of Zimbabwe hereby formally tender my resignation with immediate effect.” Robert Mugabe is accused of breach of constitution, corruption and abuse of power.

South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, was next in line as he submitted his resignation in February 2018 saying, “I have to come to a decision to resign with immediate effect.” Zuma’s resignation followed weeks of intense public pressure to step down amid longstanding corruption allegations. He is currently facing corruption trials.

If these presidential exits are signs of Africa awareness of corruption at the top level of governance in the continent, African leaders should watch their backs as they could be next in line to take a hit as there are chances of more resignation in years to come.

Africa takes lead on the 2018 corruption perception index.