Cleptocracy, Kakistocracy and Elite Capture in Africa

Although this post is specifically about Ghana, most African nations share same problems associated with governance and economic development. The term elite capture simply describes a situation where resources designated for the benefit of the larger population are usurped by a few individuals of superior status –be it economic, political, educational, ethnic, or otherwise. Typically, individuals or groups take advantage of government programs aimed at distributing resources or funds to the general public by using their elite influence to direct such assistance in such a way that it primarily benefits the elite group. In some cases it benefits their own associates, family members or friends. Cleptocracy on the other hand, is a rule by thieves and Kakistocracy is a rule by the most unqualified or the morally corrupt in society.

Ghana is a country of make-believe. Even little kids acquire this instinct of crafting lies for no apparent reason. The entire society is organised around  speculations, superstitions and farcical ideas. Facts and truths have no grip on the Ghanaian mind. The quickest and most effective way of influencing the Ghanaian is through music, the least effective is through the written word. Books influence only a thin stratum of intellectuals. The politicians know the people so well that during every election all the major political parties compose music that plays countless times on the airwaves. They know that the average man or woman on the street is not really interested in lengthy manifestos. Just give them music and entertainment. Added to this is the problem of ethnocentrism. You can visit a typical Ghanaian organisation and notice that almost everyone in a particular office, unit or department belong to one tribe. And when tribal affiliations set in there is absolutely no room for reason.

The most corrupt people in Ghana and Africa for that matter, also happen to be the elite class, most with doctorates. They form the core of the cleptocrats. Their luxurious lifestyles often cost the state more than necessary but nobody takes any action to stop this lunacy. Let me explain that a PhD in Ghana does not necessarily mean the holder has contributed anything to the field of knowledge. Here, a certificate simply designates a title. The worst mistake one can ever make as a subordinate is to try to report an allegedly corrupt official to one’s overall boss. One will be reporting to the ‘thief executive officer’ and thereby identifying oneself as a traitor in the organisation. This can cost you a promotion or salary increment etc considering that firing a public servant in Ghana is not a straight forward procedure. The thieves, supported by the ignorant masses, continue to rule in Africa.