Opinion Editorial January, 2023: My Curruption Runneth Over
We're constantly told that the world's future rests on the outcome of an ideological struggle between democracy and autocracy. Missing from the pundits' prognosis is the fact that corruption finds its way into both political systems and is a greater threat. "My cup runneth over" comes from the Bible. The phrase implies that the faithful will always have more than they need because God will always provide to them in abundance. As we enter 2023, very few people's cups runneth over whatever their religious views might be. Yet corruption is alive and thriving.
Although the 2022 FIFA men's World Cup ended, corruption again ranneth over last month in Qatar. The European Parliament was rocked by allegations of corruption from Qatar. Arrests were made and a full investigation is likely to follow.
In Peru last month, former president Pedro Castillo sought to avoid impeachment due to his own alleged corruption via a self-declared coup. The same thing had happened in that country in 1992 and it was followed by a decade of autocracy. Castillo is now under arrest and his vice-president, Dina Boluarte, has taken over (the sixth president in as many years). She promises an end to corruption; nobody believes her and the country is now in a state of emergency.
I took this month's photo in Mali, West Africa. While that country is not immune to corruption, this young, indigenous Dogon boy only cared that his cup ranneth over literally. That is the only way his family can eat in the mainly barren land where he lives. Not far away, in Tunisia, last month, an election was held. It was billed as an election that could return that country to autocracy. Still, the turnout was only 8.8%. At the same time, Elon Musk held an "election" on Twitter (which had already become an autocracy) that saw a higher (14.3%) turnout.
According to a World Bank report last month, the world's poorest countries (many of which are in Africa) saw their debt interest payments rise by 35% last year. Two-thirds of that was service on debt to China. Little wonder, then, that the United States is now "all in for Africa." Much of the debt is owed because of energy and infrastructure projects that are known to often be associated with corruption.
It is ironic that in the same month we saw the greatest ever scientific advancement in harnessing fusion power and the announcement of the first net-zero transatlantic flight, the United Kingdom approved its first new coal mine in decades. Perhaps António Guterres was correct last month in calling humanity a "weapon of mass extinction." In many parts of the world people are becoming ambivalent, even apathetic, about politics and political leaders. Corruption, not the political system itself, is the root cause.
Learn more about the Dogon people.
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