The Biggest Scandals With African Politicians

Biggest scandals with African Politicians

The biggest scandals with African politicians revolve around corruption, tax evasion, offshore banking, government procurement scandals, and violent power transfer. While these are not unique to the continent, all stakeholders must find ways to address them because its people suffer the most.

The consequences of these scandals have been devastating, particularly to the taxpayers. The cost of living has skyrocketed in most African nations, and the number of unemployed citizens increases daily. This needs to change!

I discuss these scandals below and make some recommendations.

Biggest Scandals With African Politicians

1. Corruption

Corruption in African countries significantly hinders social, political, and economic growth. The biggest corruption scandals are rampant in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana.

In South Africa, the rate of corruption is rampant within the local government. It includes embezzlement of public funds, bribery, extortion, parochialism, and misuse of resources by government officials. For example, the former president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, was charged with taking bribes from a French arms company. He has been battling a court case about corruption, fraud, and money laundering. 

The biggest corruption scandal in Malawi occurred in 2014. It is also called the Cashgate. The country lost over $100 million to corrupt government officials, who used the money for alleged payment of services and pension claims for retirees. The officials involved were charged with money laundering, fraud, and theft. Due to this scandal, many donors, like the European and British Union, withdrew aid worth $150 million from the Malawian economy.

In January 2022, The Malawian president, Lazarus Chakwera, suspended his entire cabinet due to corruption allegations. He also suspended his vice president, Saulos Chilima, who received bribes from a foreign investor in exchange for government contracts.

The most common form of corruption in Kenya is nepotism and bribery. The biggest corruption scandal in Kenya occurred in 2018. The country lost billions of shillings through the National Cereals and Produce Board, Kenya Pipeline Company, National Health Insurance Fund, and National Youth Service.

Nigeria is another African country where corruption runs through almost all government sectors. Corruption in Nigeria is the leading cause of its poor per capita income and governance.

The implications of corruption in African economic growth include;

  • Increase in poverty rates
  • Rampant crime rates.
  • Unemployment

Related article: How To Stop Tribalism In African Politics

2. Offshore banking

According to a 2020 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development study based in Paris, over $11.3 trillion was in offshore banking systems.

African leaders like Gabon’s President Ali Bongo and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya were among a few leaders in the pandora papers investigations. The pandora paper scandal revealed significant loopholes in the global tax standards, especially in Africa.

3. Tax evasion

Tax evasion is the illegal act of a person or corporation failing to remit their taxes deliberately. Politicians and entrepreneurs can accumulate massive wealth by evading taxes. Tax evasion by politicians can lead to the public not complying. Therefore, the government should impose strict laws starting with those in leadership.

In South Africa, former President Jacob Zuma, his son, nephew, and some of his business allies were involved in some tax issues. The tax commissioner, Ivan Pillay, tried to push the South African president to comply between 2012 and 2014. Instead of acting accordingly, president Zuma abruptly replaced Mr Pillay with his loyalist, leading to more national scandals in the country’s tax agency. 

Many African countries are trying to implement solutions to reduce tax evasion and avoidance by individuals and corporations. For example, Rwanda is promoting the use of billing machines and registering its taxpayers at the district level. South Africa is trying to tackle tax evasion by making amendments to its national legislation specific to tax compliance.

4. Government procurement scandals

Many government procurements are often prone to bribery, favouritism, and failure to meet contract standards. For instance, the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) was involved in a procurement scandal of covid 19 kits that led to the loss of billions of shillings. 

Elsewhere in South Africa, abuse of the procurement system resulted in a 50% loss of the procurement budget in 2017. In 2021, the same government was investigating its covid fund for irregularities.

In Zambia, the former health minister Dr. Kennedy Malama was arrested over the ambulances procurement scandal. The contract was for supplying major spare parts for ambulances, basic life support ambulances, and training personnel. The country lost over $1.44 million from the ambulance procurement scandal alone.

The government procurement scandals above reduce competition in government contracts, the number of direct foreign investors, and rates of trade in the respective countries. These scandals have also lowered the economic development of African nations.

5. Violent power transfer

Political violence in African countries was more prevalent in 2020 than in 2019. 

After every general election, most African countries face violent power transfers because their sitting presidents do not concede defeat. That compels the supporters from both sides to resort to violence.

How to solve political scandals in Africa

Here are some recommendations to solve the political scandals in Africa:

  • Expose corruption: 

To promote transparency within African politics, governments should consider using media and investigative journalists to expose corrupt politicians.

African presidents should promote anti-corruption campaigns to fight graft, just like the Malawian president, Lazarus Chakwera.

  • Wealth declaration:

African countries requiring public officials to declare their wealth include South Africa, Kenya, Liberia, and Cape Verde. 

The primary role of wealth and asset declaration is to curb corruption. All African governments should ensure that all public officers make financial declarations of their income, assets, and liabilities.

  • Advertising government contracts to the public:

Advertising tenders to the public will reduce the rate of irregularities in the procurement departments. It will promote free and fair participation to anyone interested in government contracts.

The government should also ensure that proper procurement policies and regulations are established and adhered to.

  • Improving tax compliance:

African countries’ tax agencies and authorities should consistently communicate with people and increase their awareness of tax compliance.


  • Otolo Collins

    Otolo is a passionate content writer for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. He is also an SEO content strategist. In his spare time, Otolo reads and travels a lot. He likes to describe himself as a digital nomad.

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  • BeeTee Life

    Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.

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