At a time when systemic corruption seems to have graduated from Africa’s public sector to corporate and businesses, further fanning a cancer that is blamed for defeating the continent’s development resolve, whistle blowing remains Africa’s saving grace.
From the multimillion Goldenberg scandal orchestrated by top mandarins in Kenyan government, to earth shattering revelations of tax avoidance by multinationals operating in Africa, a select group of bold men and women have fought the temptation of money and trappings of ill gotten wealth to expose ills that have crippled the continent.
Yet for their sacrosanct and audacious duty, and by preferring to lean on the side of truth, they have paid the ultimate price including persecution, harassment and even death. But in this pursuit, they have inspired a new generation. Still these gallant children of the soil remain unsung, in a system that has normalized sleaze. Little wonder then that a 2015 investigation by Forbes Africa magazine into the place of whistleblowers in Africa revealed that while most of the people in power are beneficiaries of corruption, those who speak about it are rewarded with death. It detailed the horrific murder of Grishen Bujram, a resident of KwaZulu- Natal area in South Africa who was murdered for revealing the mayor’s active role in defrauding the country through self allocation of government houses meant for the poor.
Grishen remains one among many agents of truth who sadly live in fear or have sought asylum out of the continent for fear of reprimand and can no longer call Africa home. In fact, of the 54 African countries, just seven have passed whistle-blower laws or have offices of ombudsman that seek to protect those with information that can fight malfeasance, depicting how risky it is to blow a whistle in Africa.
It therefore calls for the concerted efforts by global community and the media to step up measures that promote demand for truth and accountability. Already technology is playing a pivotal role in ensuring whistleblowers can do so anonymously and has their security guaranteed.
We still have a long way to go, but sustained debate and action stemming from all corners of the earth is enough to sound the wake up call to regimes suppressing truth with impunity. For prosperity of the continent, the whistleblowers; the champions of truth must get the support they desperately need.