Africa: Risky insurance coverage against prosecution

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Looking at the African society and its social-political gridlock, some have classified the continent as arguably very unique and interesting. Yes, unique and interesting, in the sense that either most African leaders are too nimble-witted that they can easily indoctrinate, brainwash or proselytize an average African or the leaders’ voracious greed effectively blocks their thinking faculty. Whatever the case may be, the one undeniable fact is that the last item that seems to occupy the priority list of most African leaders is the word responsibility. When responsibility is a mirage in society, lack of accountability becomes a sine qua non for the leaders. That makes prosecution more or less, a special act, solely reserved for a civilized society. Would you, therefore, classify Africa as uncivilized? Well, that would depend on your definition of the word “civilized,” wouldn’t it?

Regardless, why would shrewd gluttonous leaders boldly confiscate billions of dollars from the State, meant for the school, health, water, electricity, and other social services of their fellow citizens without fear of the consequences of their abhorrent action? Imagine a failed leader, who could not solve the basic endemic problems facing his/her country still prefers to believe that staying in power endlessly would bring a magical solution to the country’s woes. Yet how can one justify the fact that the same raped citizens still foolishly support same heartless leaders, who mercilessly used and dumped them? Wondering who needs urgent psychiatric attention: leaders or the subjects? Perhaps both?

Imagine a society where esurient leaders who have intentionally starved and denied their subjects basic medical insurance, would yet craftily design and perfect their insurance scheme that would cover the leaders, even after they have left office (if at all they would voluntarily give up power, of course). Call it the insurance coverage against prosecution. Hum. A simple process. All you need to do as a leader is to carefully appoint a devoted, trusted successor, who would protect your ill-gotten billions and your political cum family dynasty against prosecution. Take a look around different African countries and ask yourself how many of the leaders have been prosecuted after they have left office. Not even those who were forced to vacate the juicy seat would tell you they fear to give an account of their dark deeds. Where is the age of accountability in Africa? A society which cannot account for its deeds and actions is aimless.

But that insurance coverage is becoming risky in Africa.  Hopefully, Africa is waking up from its brain-dead slumber. After being in power for 38 years and allegedly plundered the wealth of oil-rich Angola, faced with health challenges, President dos Santos stepped down and appointed President Joao Lourenço as his hand-picked successor. President Joao Lourenço is meant to be dos Santos’ insurance policy against prosecution. A risky insurance coverage, he turned out to be. Surprisingly, the new President became a bully bulldog in his crackdown on corruption. Oh yes, bad dogs can bite their bosses. The once untouchables are rattled. Soon the likes of Isabel dos Santos the 46-year-old daughter of former President don Santos, who is described as the richest woman in Africa with an estimated fortune of $2.2bn, according to the Forbes magazine, was no more spared. She was removed from her powerful position as the head of Angola’s multi-billion oil company Sonangol.

With accountability suddenly demanded, she could hardly milk the cow as she used to. Although, she has enough milk stored at home anyway. Her brother José Filomeno dos Santos, is facing trial in Angola for the disappearance of $500m from the State coffer when he headed Angola’s Sovereign Wealth Fund. Today, a court in Angola has ordered the seizure of the assets and bank accounts belonging to Isabel dos Santos, who is presently in exile, claiming her life had been threatened in her country Angola. Does Isabel dos Santos know how many Angolan lives she, her family and their cronies have endangered by their mere greed? Presently, the once-powerful Isabel dos Santos is a fugitive. A lesson for other African leaders?

Many Africans – especially, African leaders – are carefully watching the political developments in Angola. Could this be a New Year gift and message for Africa? Let’s hope so. With the steps being taken by President Joao Lourenço in Angola, if anything, it is clear that stealing billions from the State and hand-picking a successor to act as your insurance coverage against prosecution is no more risk-free in Africa. If Africa could accept this as a New Year message, the continent will be on its way to recovery – and greatness.