Should African Countries Consider Death Penalty For Corrupt Leaders?

In China last year, a former vice-mayor was sentenced to death for corruption of scandalous levels. Should African countries adopt the same too in order to curb this cancer?

Corruption is rife in the whole world at large. And Africa has its fair share of corruption – a cancer that seems to have no cure. Corruption is deeply embedded in all levels of society, and it is particularly the corruption from the top that trickles down to the other levels of society. 

Much of Africa’s problems would not be harsh and protracted if corruption was severely dealt with. African leaders have become corrupt to the extent that thinking of development in all facets of life is just a remote possibility. It is endemic such that thinking of a reduction in corruption is an uphill battle. 

A survey by Transparency International showed that “more than one in four people who accessed public services, such as health care and education, paid a bribe in the previous year.” That speaks volumes on how widespread corruption is in all dimensions of life in Africa. Citizens do not have faith in institutions such as the police, the judiciary, government officials and all the way up to the executive. Good governance is a scarcity in Africa.

While a lack of corruption is not solely responsible for steering an economy forward in an inclusive manner, it is a key component to that effect. 

China made sensational headlines last year when a former vice-mayor was sentenced to death for corruption. Zhang Zhongsheng was handed the death penalty after being convicted of accepting 1.04 billion yuan ($165 million) in bribes. He accepted huge bribes in helping others to land lucrative contracts by underhand dealings (including in the coal mining sector). And this was from a period spanning from 1997 to 2013. Many Chinese jurists believe that the death penalty is highly effective in serving a deterrent effect to those who may think of dabbling in those issues. 

The death penalty is a loud message in any legal system, and it is a matter of intense moral discussion. For others, death penalty is an effective sentence. It makes other people conduct themselves with caution. And for others, the death penalty is abominable, immoral and an insult to humanity. 

The question now rises – considering how egregious corruption is in Africa, should the death penalty be adopted and applied on those found on the wrong side of the law? Should it be enforced? These are questions that give rise to a big discussion. 

Some people are tired of the corruption and would love to see something with impact being done about it. But then, who enforces such death penalty when taking into account the authoritarian nature of some governments in Africa? And even without that, some countries are simply reluctant to enforce the death penalty on moral grounds. 

One thing cannot be avoided – corruption needs to be done away with. It has hindered development capable of transforming the millions of lives mired in abject poverty and lack of opportunities for a better life. Corruption should not be an accepted feature of life. 

What do you think? Should the death penalty apply for corrupt leaders? 

Source: The African Exponent

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