“Good Governance Pays” – Part le Pili

Crony 2012, posters by Will St. Leger, photographed by Darragh Doyle, 25 March 2012, Temple Bar, Dublin.

Those were the words of then Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern (pictured above….) in January 2008, addressed to Irish people living in Dar es Salaam. We applauded, enjoyed the booze and canapés and went home. Five months later, so did Bertie, resigning as his own party remained unable to protect him from the mounting evidence of his corruption and that of the wider political system.

I blogged his Dar speech at the time. It was too good to resist. Our venal leader at the plinth, praising his host President Kikwete for acting “decisively, openly and publicly” on the USD 130 million Bank of Tanzania fraud, was quite a sight.

And his venality was something we had all known about. Some months prior to his speech in Dar es Salaam, Bertie had completed his testimony to the Mahon Tribunal – an official inquiry into corruption in land planning and political financing from the late ’80s to late ’90s. His increasingly garbled accounts of his personal finances, the huge amounts of cash sitting in his office and being a Minister for Finance without a personal bank account left us in no doubt.

The Mahon Tribunal released its final 3,270 page report this week. It is amusing in the way in which it feels it has to lay out the first principals of accountability, transparency and combating corruption – in much the same way as your average ‘good governance’ consultant here might do preparing a report for either donors or the Tanzanian government.

But it doesn’t pull its punches in its pathology of Irish politics and public administration. “Corruption in Irish political life”, it tells us was “both endemic and systemic”. From Ministers down to local councillors, a “culture of impunity and invincibility” allowed this to happen.

Yet coming on top of the plea bargain between Britain’s Serious Fraud Office and British Aerospace over corrupt payments to secure business in Tanzania, donor country credibility on these issues has taken another hit. The average Good Governance Programme Officer’s job just got a little harder.

Bertie was a hugely popular politician working a system of patronage, strong arm political fundraising and, yes, cronyism. We all knew about it and we allowed it to continue.

But the upshot of that is a banjaxed (read: broken) economy and a disaffected populace. That is maybe the lesson that Tanzania can draw from the sorry affair. But the consequences of such disaffection here are more direct, for as we have seen, “there’s always a reason to riot in TZ”.

Very few readers in Ireland, so, if interested, a good place to start with coverage of the Mahon Tribunal is here, where you can find a link to the full report (63MB) and this useful introduction.

The posters pictured above are by Dublin “Mindful Vandal”, Will St. Leger, found through Darragh Doyle.


3 responses to ““Good Governance Pays” – Part le Pili

  1. Michael Brian Harrison

    Ireland seems to have rather a long history of dubious financial schemes engaged in by senior politicians. As you say much of it seems to be common knowledge amongst the Irish long before the duly appointed enquiry duly declares that the common knowledge is correct. Is all clean there now?

  2. Reblogged this on Walking slowly and commented:
    “Donor country credibility on [corruption] has taken another hit. The average Good Governance Programme Officer’s job just got a little harder.”

  3. good article.

    but it really is no surprise me, though. it always sounds strange to me hearing the big kahunas in american and europe chiding africans about corruption when in reality they are partners of african leaders/criminals who imporevish their people by treating their nations’ wealth as personal loot/pocket change stashing it in their foreign bank accounts.

    no american or european politician has any right to point a finger at an african so-called leader who steals from his own people with impunity. unless, the politician is willing to call out banks, other financial institutions, and sundry accomplices including themselves.

    without help from foreigners these criminals will not be as successful.

    these corporatists should stop playing games and insulting us by pretending they are trying to stop corruption while in the kitchen cooking it up . . .

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