African oligarchs

Blog / By Evelyn Groenink
Photo: creative common Photo: creative common

Blaming only multinationals for the plunder of Africa’s mineral and other natural resources? Seeing all Africans, including their elites, as victims of ‘Western’ (or Chinese) exploitation? You won’t anymore after reading the chilling transnational investigation about to be released by our partners in the African Investigative Publishing Collective in partnership with Africa Uncensored.

A team of investigative journalists in seven African countries, ranging from the former socialist like Mozambique, to your run-of-the-mill dictatorship in Togo, up to ‘skyscraper’ Rwanda and the new South Africa under Jacob Zuma, explored how African  oligarchs combine political power with access to the state’s money flows to plunder their own countries.

The investigation aims to be a ‘prequel’ to the famous ‘Panama Papers’, that unearthed money reserves in off-shore bank accounts placed there by the likes of DRC president Joseph Kabila’s sister, a relative of South Africa’s Jacob Zuma and frontmen for Rwanda’s Paul Kagame. The ‘African Oligarchs’ investigation went where many others in these countries fear to tread, asking: how did that money even get to Panama?

The team found that ‘African corruption’ is not just a question of civil servants asking for bribes, or even of malleable, weak leaders, but a sophisticated wealth-extraction system, installed during colonial times, now steered by new plunderers who sometimes, like the old colonialists, don’t even live in the countries they ruin anymore. And it asks why some companies and countries still do business with  those at the machineries helm, instead of partnering with civil society activists, concerned members of judiciaries and parliaments and investigative media who expose the looting and cry out for change.

African Oligarchs will be launched early October on the ZAM, AU and AIPC websites in partnership with selected media worldwide. Watch this space.