People only oppose corruption when it’s not in their interest

It may seem as though African governments and its people want corruption completely flushed from their system, but deep down people only want to eliminate forms of corruption that do not favour their personal interests. Corruption is embedded in our system and it manifests in our interests and connections to power.

Corruption has been a bone in the neck of most African economies, costing them billions of dollars, deep-rooted poverty and a widespread lack of development.

With this looming bane, it has become very common to hear African governments’ put up a fight against corruption. However, no matter the measures put in place, corruption seems to be ever-present in every nook and cranny of various sectors; unshaken by policies and the strong hand of the law, much to the annoyance of many.

Despite African leaders in declaring 2018 as the African Year of Anti-Corruption, the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) shows that corruption still persists. Over 43 percent of Africans are living in poverty meanwhile, over $50 billion worth of stolen assets flow out of Africa every year.

The intersection of the public and private sectors creates opportunities for corruption. However, it does not always manifest itself as a financial crime but as other forms of crimes; sometimes subtle and less daunting crimes, but they are corruption nonetheless.

Corruption affects everyone, it manifests in poverty and the likes. Unfortunately many think corruption to be a pyramid- from top to bottom- little do they know that it is more of an inverted pyramid, where corruption starts from the grassroots as a result of a conflict of interest.

Humans are instinctive and would naturally take actions that will directly be beneficial to them. In a study by Simon Gächter and Jonathan Schulz of the University of Nottingham, it was discovered people were more likely to bend the rules for personal gain if they lived in more corrupt societies.

According to Gächter, “corruption and fraud are things going on in the social environment all the time, and it’s plausible that it shapes people’s psychology, what they can get away with”. They do this with the notion that “It is okay! since everybody does it around here.”

Corruption is a vicious circle that is not limited to bribery: influence peddling, nepotism, favouritism and parochialism are all forms of corruption. Some people show interest or discuss a topic only when it directly affects them or those around them, and as interest differs, so does levels of corruptions.

When it comes to corruption, there is almost always a common denominator when it comes to corruption- a conflict of interest- and as long as the conflict of interest is a mere unexploited potentiality it is not problematic. It, however, morphs into a larger crime when personal interest takes precedence than a groups interest.