Corruption (Part 2)

__”What is it to gain the whole world and lose your soul?”

As I pointed out last week in the first part of this new series on tackling corruption: Until there is a generation ready to pay the price to end it, corruption will always be around, no matter how much we protest. Paying the price starts with the willingness to walk away from what appears to be great opportunity.

To get us thinking about what this means, let me give you an example of what happened to me once. I had an opportunity to set up a mobile business in a remarkably rich country. I had been invited to form a joint venture with a group from a Nordic country, as well as a state-owned company.

The negotiations on the terms of the agreement were taking place in London. Everyone was sitting at the table going through the documents line by line. We had been circulating copies for several weeks.

Suddenly I noticed a few lines which disturbed me, so I went over to the delegation leader to ask what they meant.

“You have set aside 20% shares for ‘other local partners’ but you have not named them?” I began. “You do appreciate that I will not sign an agreement which includes parties that are unnamed. Neither will our friends. Please let us have the names of these other parties by the time we get final signature copies.”

The government officials huddled together for a few minutes, then one of them took me aside.

“My brother, you know we have made provisions for some top guys. If we don’t cut them in, this deal is dead for sure,” he began. “We can create a structure to conceal it from the documents so our foreign friends don’t see it anymore.”

“What do you suggest?” he asked me.

I reflected on it for a moment, then I said to him: “Leave it with me.”

I could see they were relieved. After all, the “African brother knew how things are done back home…”

I went over to the leader of the Nordic team and asked him if we could take a break. We both left the room and took a walk. I explained to him what I had spotted, and the response of the other side.

The man reacted as though he was seeing a lion heading towards him at full speed!

“This will ruin my life!” He was almost inconsolable with panic and grief.

“In my country, corruption is the highest level of disgrace! We do not allow it!”

He literally turned and ran back into the room. He called his colleagues together, and in a few agitated statements he explained to them the provision in the agreement. Each one of them quickly packed their briefcases and fled from the room!

As for our government friends, they almost physically assaulted me. I think if it had happened in their country, I would have been a dead man that day!

“Who do you think you are?!” they shouted at me.

They even said, “How dare you accuse us of corruption!?”

I packed up my own briefcase as threats of death (if ever I went to their country) rang in my ears, and then I left the room. This was about 15 years ago. I never saw them again.

Someone told me they found other people to do the deal with. I was not interested and I didn’t care. I had saved my own soul, and at the time, that is all that mattered to me.
Sure, I would have made a boatload of money, but Jesus said: “What is to gain the world but lose your soul?”

Lessons:

#1. Did you notice how our Nordic friends reacted? They “fled” from corruption! The very idea of being involved in something corrupt terrified them. This is how you must react when faced with someone seeking a bribe, or proposing something corrupt. It must invoke a deep sense of indignation, like someone is trying to defile you!

#2. We (the ordinary citizens) are the leaders and soldiers in the fight against corruption. We must volunteer ourselves to the fight. If you are waiting for some elected official to fight it, then you may be waiting a long time. We need to suck out the oxygen that feeds corruption. (That oxygen is our silence, fear or sense of indifference!)

__There is a #Price to pay.

I have met ordinary people in Africa who were prepared to pay an extraordinary #Price to resist corruption in their jobs and communities. These are the people who will end corruption.

Thank you to the thousands who wrote me here last week to share your deep concerns. I really appreciated the record number of you who engaged on this critical topic. #SpeakingUp is critically important… Now let’s start talking solutions.

You all have the power to start tackling corruption yourself, even today. Do you know what it is?

To be continued. . .

by 19 Replies

About Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.

19 thoughts on “Corruption (Part 2)

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.

    # We will not need aid from anybody if we tackle corruption.

    # No child will sleep hungry if we tackle corruption.

    # Every child can be in school, if we tackle corruption.

    # Our nations will not just prosper but soar, if we tackle corruption.

    Reply
  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Elo-akpo writes,

    I left a promising venture two years ago because my boss required I manipulate receipts for customers who wanted to cheat their companies.
    I have been suffering since then but I have my conscience intact, that’s important to me.
    With people like you championing anti-corruption and good ethical behaviour, I’m sure we’re on our way to progress.
    Thank you sir!

    My reply,
    I salute you!
    It is people like you that are fighting corruption.
    This is what I mean when I say we must be prepared to #PayThePrice to end corruption.
    In the end you will be fully vindicated in more ways than you can possibly imagine. Just don’t despair, or feel regret. You did the right thing.

    Reply
  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #PayThePrice:

    My five year legal battle in Zimbabwe, in which I was persecuted, and eventually forced to live outside the country for the last 18 years was a stand against corruption!

    At any time, all I had to do was to make one or two calls to accommodate certain people, and I would have the license within 48 hours!

    # It started as one man and his wife; today we have almost 3,2m standing with us on this platform!
    Last week’s part 1, of this Corruption series reached a record 16m people!
    I will yet see corruption destroyed in Africa.
    Let’s recruit more people willing to #StandUpAgainstCorruption!

    Reply
  4. Stephen Kamugasa

    We indeed have the power to fight corruption Mr Masiyiwa. But the fight must start with the individual, that is, me. If all of us put a firm hand on the tiller, it is possible that the day will come when Africa will be free of corruption.

    Now I recognise that it is impossible for any given society, even Nordic societies, to be completely free of corruption. But we can make the culture of corruption so repulsive that no self-respecting African would ever contemplate taking a bribe or giving one – in the same way that Nordic man you speak of did. To that end, I have started an initiative, ‘Stepping Stones’, to debate Africa with corruption very much in the eye. I introduce the initiative in a blogpost, ” Desperate times require desperate measures; we need to talk” published on 12 February 2018 on my website: https://thekamugasachallenge.com/

    My hope is to translate the ‘Stepping Stones’ initiative into a series of live public debates and/or conferences with a view of challenging the way we Africans see ourselves, and how the world sees us. I have started working towards that end, and I hope in a not too distant a future, a first public debate or conference will take place – probably in London, the UK.

    You will notice that I do not allow comments on my blog. There is a good reason for this: the African problem is too important an issue to open it to frivolous comments; most debates on Africa tend to degenerate to frivolity if not managed properly. But I have started debating the issue online courtesy to the RSA LinkedIn Group. I am a Fellow of the RSA.

    To conclude: I most heartily endorse your work, and in the blogpost, “Please sir, do not belittle teachers; esteem them – 2018 Edition”, which is scheduled to be published on 9 April 2018, I shall mention you and your work plus the work of Mr Swaniker.

    Reply
  5. Denis Munyami

    Dear Mr Strive am grateful for the truth you have laid here and for a legacy you have instilled in my heart I have been seeking men with a virtuous spirit of truth but they are very few and more so the wealthy ones. I humbly ask you to be a father to me a mentor and with a coach.

    Reply
  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Okafocha CJ writes,

    I went to my LGA for a letter of identification. I’ve told by a relative that everything must be paid into the bank and receipt tendered to the officials, that’s the lawful thing to do. But on getting there I was asked to pay some to the bank and pay the rest in cash. I protested but everyone told me that’s how the office operates. I told them I’d meet the chairman and they told me that even the Governor cannot help me. I went on to write a letter to the Chairman.
    It took another week to get my letter to the chairman attended to. I had recorded enough evidence both in video and audio without their knowledge. They were summoned to their surprise and chastised.
    I paid the price because I couldn’t beat the deadline for a scholarship exam for which I needed the identification letter. My friends made me feel stupid for sacrificing the opportunity to get the grant because
    I’d have gotten it, but the sanity that was restored to my LGA is a thing of joy. Last week I went there and I saw posters warning against paying for anything in cash.
    I think its a milestone.

    My reply,
    You #PaidThe Price, and we salute you!
    Millions of people on this platform now know and respect you.
    Do not be anxious, as your destiny is already set. You are going to be great.

    Reply
  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Marcos Nani writes,

    What of in a situation where the government and situation around doesn’t provide HELPING EDUCATION SYSTEM and one has only one chance to pass an exam when being sponsored by another and if he fails stand a chance of no EDUCATION. An Unfortunately the only way to pass the Exam set by the NEC is to MALPRACTICE and the government invigilator accepts the bribe what can help this situation SIR?

    My reply,
    The government invigilator who asks for a bribe is a criminal!
    Use social media to name and shame such people. Write letters. Record them secretly and post it!
    #Get them fired, by exposing them!

    It may not seem like it now, but soon you will come to realize:
    #1. Education is too important to be used simply to get a good job!
    #2. Even if you never ever get a job in your entire life, it’s still better to be an educated person!
    #3. Remember my campaign called:
    #NothingTurnsOnThis?
    If you were not on the platform at the time scroll back to it. Ultimately not having a certificate to show you are educated is not the true proof of your education!
    #4. The reason I’m able to write to you, and share ideas with you is because you are educated!

    Reply
  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought:
    Imagine what would happen if corrupt officials knew that there is a real chance that someone might secretly record them, or even take pictures of them asking for a bribe?
    In the US it has been discovered that incidents of police behaving violently towards motorists have fallen, not because the police have become better people, but because of fear that someone is secretly recording with a Smartphone.
    If you know that a policeman at a roadblock regularly asks for a bribe, just record them next time, and post it on social media, or even on official websites!

    There are so many tools like smartphone cameras and video, that we should be using.

    Reply
  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Reflection:
    When I was a young boy living in Zambia, the regime of Ian Smith sent helicopters and jets to attack camps belonging to the Freedom Fighters from Zimbabwe. It was a very frightening thing to see such a show of force. They seemed almost invincible. But what surprised me was how it emboldened people to swell the ranks of the fighters. Even young Zambians wanted to fight. Nigerians wanted to fight. Tanzanians wanted to fight.
    Nigerian civil servants started to contribute part of their salaries,

    One guy told me “we are not afraid of their helicopters and jets. We will bring them down with sticks, if we have to.”

    #Stop and think about it for just a moment.
    The enemy of your generation is #Corruption.:
    You have to bring it down with the Smart-Tech equivalent of “sticks and stones” [things like Social Media, smartphones] if you have to, otherwise you are not the sons and daughters of those who were prepared to #PayThe [Ultimate] Price.
    I know it’s dangerous to secretly record and shame corrupt officials. We have to use every single platform and tool at our disposal (including our Smartphones and Social Media platforms) like this one to expose and talk about corruption. They may look like “sticks and stones” to some but they are mighty to bring down corruption!
    We have to educate people to stand up and reject corruption as a way of life, that cannot be changed.

    Reply
  10. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought:
    In 1993 when the newspapers reported that I had sued the government in order to end the monopoly of telecommunications, almost everyone I called a friend vanished from my life. People were so scared. Then the President of the country at the time made a chilling remark warning me of unspecified actions. Then even my relatives vanished! Others urged me to leave the country quickly.
    Instead I joined a local church and immersed myself in the Bible, and all fear vanished from me! I also got real friends that did not fear anyone or anything!

    #FearNot!

    Reply
  11. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Peter Antony writes,

    When we talk of those in authority we think of ministers and Governors but we all wield a level of authority in our individual lives and capacities.
    The rule is don’t give, don’t receive and do not be quiet.

    My reply,
    I like this Peter!
    Some are also in the private sector. Others are officials in different parts of public administration.

    It’s time to recruit and deploy an African army of #CorruptionFighters!
    They must be smart, and able to work use Smart-Tech tools. They need to be fearless!

    They will work at all levels of our society to expose and fight corruption. People involved in corruption must live in fear of being exposed by #CorruptionFighters!

    Reply
  12. Nixon

    Nixon writes,l agree with u sir, l thnk we need to ask our govrnments to give stiff penalts in order to reduce corruption.Sir l would also want u to look into somethng l have seen in econet ZIM.l thnk ths guys ar misrepresentng .l played a game called sms ..win .Aftr extendng th ..wth 31days they adrapt stopped my game 5to 6days before th due date thr by manupulating my results.thts unfair ,cheating.l tried to talk to them no body responded to me on tht one.plz can u look into my case l knw u dont tolerant tht kind of practise.

    Reply
  13. run 3

    I feel it interesting, your post gave me a new perspective! I have read many other articles about the same topic, but your article convinced me! I hope you continue to have high quality articles like this to share with veryone!

    Reply

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