Charles Mafa
‘I don’t know how much it is in Kwacha that we have to pay, but it is a lot, in thousands’, says Dickson Chishimba, leaning back on his chair and wiping his moustache after a sip of sweet beer, locally known as munkoyo. Thought it is lunchtime at his cooperative’s milling plant in Kalense, northern Zambia, the production of maize meal, a staple in the country where many do not have sufficient access to food, is ongoing today. But that may not continue to be the case for very long. The Zambia... ‘I don’t know how much it is in Kwacha that we have to pay, but it is a lot, in thousands’, says Dickson Chishimba, leaning back on his chair and wiping...
Theophilus Abbah
Entrenched interests, from top to bottom, have turned border control into a money-making machine for those at the head of the Nigerian Immigration Service. Partnerships with a number of private companies siphon off monies paid to them by the state as well as by visa and passport applicants. Court judgements, a parliamentary probe and even petitions by the agencies' own former senior officers have not been able to dent the scheme. With honest civil servants having left in frustration, and a former... Entrenched interests, from top to bottom, have turned border control into a money-making machine for those at the head of the Nigerian Immigration...
Andrew Mambondiyani
‘I have been told by a friend that this Nigerian guy resides somewhere along this street’. While strolling through Yeovil – a quiet leafy luxurious suburb in the eastern border city of Mutare, Zimbabwe – a young man approaches me inquiring about a Nigerian diamond buyer whom he believes lives in the area. The young man acts as if he is in a market place, looking for someone to buy his tomatoes. The Precious Stones Trade Act According to Zimbabwe’s Precious Stones Trade Act, unlawful dealing in or... ‘I have been told by a friend that this Nigerian guy resides somewhere along this street’. While strolling through Yeovil – a quiet leafy luxurious...
Evelyn Groenink
That many African state systems can be called ‘kleptocracies’, i.e. states whose leaders make themselves rich and powerful by stealing from the people, is a conclusion long arrived at by most African investigative journalists. Many of the colleagues we connect with in the ZAM network have dedicated their careers, and often their lives, to exposing and hopefully helping dismantle these systems. Together, in investigations such as African Oligarchs, Public Disservice, The Associates, Risking Death to... That many African state systems can be called ‘kleptocracies’, i.e. states whose leaders make themselves rich and powerful by stealing from the people,...
ZAM Reporter
Reporter Taiwo Adebulu’s story on marriage registry corruption in Nigeria has had massive impact less than a week after publication. The story, which highlighted the sabotage of an electronic bookings portal by officials intent on extorting loving couples and cashing in bribes at the Ikoyi marriage registry, caused an avalanche of responses from the Nigerian public, who shared online their experiences of official bribery demands at the same registry. Adebulu then turned the public input into... Reporter Taiwo Adebulu’s story on marriage registry corruption in Nigeria has had massive impact less than a week after publication. The story, which...
John Masaba
On the morning of October 30, 2019, Maxillary Owilli, 56, walked into the bank in the northern Uganda district of Abim, looking forward to his payday salary. But moments later the teacher of Murolem Primary School, in the same district, left the bank premises dejected. He was not going to be paid that month. ‘They told me it ‘hanged’ and went back to the ministry’, he says. When complaining to his district office he was handed a form to fill and a promise that all would be well the following month.... On the morning of October 30, 2019, Maxillary Owilli, 56, walked into the bank in the northern Uganda district of Abim, looking forward to his payday...
Lydia Namubiru, Khatondi Soita Wepukhulu and Rael Ombuor / openDemocracy
A six month investigation in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda reveals widespread use of clinics that claim ‘therapy’ will change a person’s sexual choices. When Samuel (not his real name) was a teenager, he was sent to live in a windowless room in a deserted area on the outskirts of Nairobi, the Kenyan capital. Here, he said, he was given electric shocks and shown pictures of ‘ruptured anuses and wounded penises’ by people who told him that if he didn’t stop being gay, he would ‘meet the same fate’. ‘I... A six month investigation in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda reveals widespread use of clinics that claim ‘therapy’ will change a person’s sexual choices....
Taiwo Adebulu
Officials of Nigeria’s federal marriage registries extort prospective married couples by charging them fees way above the official rate, diverting up to half of the country’s minimum wage at a time into their personal bank accounts. Taiwo Adebulu went undercover to record how these civil servants work together, and across marriage offices, to do this with impunity. He also discovered how an online registration portal, meant to be a solution to the corruption, is routinely sabotaged. On the right... Officials of Nigeria’s federal marriage registries extort prospective married couples by charging them fees way above the official rate, diverting up to...
David Dembélé
When COVID 19 hit Mali, businessman Boubacar Thiam was one of the many who felt a ‘sense of panic’. ‘Maybe I should have thought about it for longer’, the chairman of APBEF, the association of financial and banking enterprises of Mali, says. ‘But we were told there was a global pandemic and many of us might die. So we put US$ 1,234,885 into the voluntary fund that the government presented. We did not foresee that there would be no traceability’. On a picture taken at the 1st of April 2020 launch of... When COVID 19 hit Mali, businessman Boubacar Thiam was one of the many who felt a ‘sense of panic’. ‘Maybe I should have thought about it for longer’,...
Nazlee Arbee
Shakeera Baker doesn’t like asking for help to put food on the table for herself and her two children, but she struggled to make ends meet in mid-2020 already. And then the COVID lockdown prevented her from even going to look for work. So she and her equally unemployed husband applied for the new COVID 19 grant. 1 At 350 Rands, US$ 20, per month, it wasn’t going to be much. It barely buys you some electricity, some bread, some tea, cooking oil, rice, some vegetables. But it was something. Only they... Shakeera Baker doesn’t like asking for help to put food on the table for herself and her two children, but she struggled to make ends meet in mid-2020...
Estacio Valoi
Cabo Delgado, 2021. Over 600 000 people, more than a quarter of the population, live in refugee camps, battling food and water shortages, mosquitoes, and disease. The Mozambican province has been under attack from violent militants – Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jamo, or the local ‘Al Shabab,’ as residents call it – since August last year. Humanitarian aid organisations like Doctors without Borders barely cope, especially now that the pandemic is spreading and people present with cough, fever and shortness of... Cabo Delgado, 2021. Over 600 000 people, more than a quarter of the population, live in refugee camps, battling food and water shortages, mosquitoes, and...
Evelyn Groenink
When COVID 19 pandemic news started flooding TVs and social media, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke to his nation like a true statesman. He did not, like Donald Trump in the United States, oscillate between denial and promoting untested medication. He ordered a lockdown, encouraged mask wearing and had isolation centres built in event halls. Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and even Congo introduced similar policies and programmes. Save for the crazy... When COVID 19 pandemic news started flooding TVs and social media, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke to his nation like a true statesman. He...
ZAM Reporter
How African oligarchs sell out their countries. How international aid helps them. How activists try to stop them. The Kleptocracy Project ZAM & Pakhuis de Zwijger Livecast 24 June, 2021, 20h30. Livecast. Free admission. In many African countries, investigative journalism is on the rise. A new generation of change-makers uncover scandal after scandal, energising African protest movements fighting for social justice and good governance. The Kleptocracy Project, a long term collaboration between a... How African oligarchs sell out their countries. How international aid helps them. How activists try to stop them. The Kleptocracy Project ZAM & Pakhuis...
ZAM Reporter
Call for stories In the Kleptocracy Project part I, ZAM and its partner network of African investigative journalists delved into the international associates of Africa’s kleptocrats and into the failing state structures that are connected to kleptocratic practices. In Part II, we want to dissect the kleptocracies themselves. Corruption is the system, as they say, but what systems, exactly, are these? How do they work? How is it possible that scandal after scandal, exposure after exposure, continue... Call for stories In the Kleptocracy Project part I, ZAM and its partner network of African investigative journalists delved into the international...
Pedro Cardoso
Luzia and the men Kleptocracy and lack of hope are only some of the reasons Angolan citizens leave the country. For Luzia Banzuzi (41) it was two men: both her first husband, who kept stalking and threatening her for having left him; and the second, who kicked her out of her house because he believed she was still ‘seeing’ the first one. Homeless and threatened, in a country where police nor justice system will help or protect, she saw only one way out. She went to Cuba — the country’s socialist... Luzia and the men Kleptocracy and lack of hope are only some of the reasons Angolan citizens leave the country. For Luzia Banzuzi (41) it was two men:...
Pedro Cardoso
Portland’s welcome In June last year the town of Portland in Maine, north west USA, was suddenly in the news because thirty-nine migrants from Angola and the DRC had showed up at migrant reception centres there. While awaiting their asylum hearings they had come here because they had heard that the town counts important Angolan and Congolese communities, based there for over three decades. They had also heard of the ‘open arm policy’ of the city. In the words of Mayor Ethan Strimling, ‘the state of... Portland’s welcome In June last year the town of Portland in Maine, north west USA, was suddenly in the news because thirty-nine migrants from Angola and...
Pedro Cardoso
Ana's journey from nothing to nowhere On 18 April, for fear of creating hotbeds of COVID 19 contagion, a Mexico City judge ordered the release of migrants from sixty-five overcrowded immigration centres in the country. By the end of that month, with both the northern and southern border lines under lockdown, the Mexican National Migration Institute (INM) estimated that over twenty thousand migrants were now stranded around border lines; under the lockdown, even appointments to identify refugees are... Ana's journey from nothing to nowhere On 18 April, for fear of creating hotbeds of COVID 19 contagion, a Mexico City judge ordered the release of...
AIPC/ZAM*
Lack of state services and protection encourages despair and militancy The reason why Somali soldier Ali (20) is seriously thinking about joining the ‘terrorists’ of Al-Shabab who are waging a violent insurgency in his country, often with terrorist methods, is that he doesn’t get a salary from his government. He hasn’t had for months. “We don’t even get weapons. The government is not committed to us in this war. It would be easier for me to be with the ‘boys,’” -common jargon for Al-Shabab, ed.-,... Lack of state services and protection encourages despair and militancy The reason why Somali soldier Ali (20) is seriously thinking about joining the...
Estacio Valoi
A network of Mozambican ruling party leaders and Chinese businesses already notorious for large scale timber looting and deforestation, has moved from plundering Mozambican timber to fish, another natural resource in the country with its long coastline. The Mozambican-Chinese network is taking fish mainly from the northern Mozambican province Cabo Delgado and Ilha de Moçambique on the coast off Nampula province. Whilst on the ground a customs official helps to pack live lobsters for export and a... A network of Mozambican ruling party leaders and Chinese businesses already notorious for large scale timber looting and deforestation, has moved from...
David Dembélé
“In our department we buy twenty five boxes of mineral water every month,” says the procurement official for the Sports Ministry in Bamako, Mali. “In the shop you pay the equivalent of two-hundred and fifty dollars for that quantity. But we pay double that, about US$ 500.” Where the other half of the five hundred dollar goes? To ‘anonymous middlemen,’ is the routinely given answer to anyone who asks questions about Mali’s opaque state expenditure processes. In this case: to distributors operating... “In our department we buy twenty five boxes of mineral water every month,” says the procurement official for the Sports Ministry in Bamako, Mali. “In the...
Olivia Ndubuisi
Olivia Ndubuisi infiltrated one of the notorious ‘419 scams’ industry’s headquarters. In this universe Nigerian young men use the internet to relieve unsuspecting ‘clients’ of their money in romance, gold, or business scams . The Yahoo Boy rarely lives alone. He needs his comrades around him to pull off a successful scam: the document forger, the international call router, the bank account frontperson and the tech wizard are needed just as much as the smooth talker. Luckily for the Yahoo Boy this... Olivia Ndubuisi infiltrated one of the notorious ‘419 scams’ industry’s headquarters. In this universe Nigerian young men use the internet to relieve...