In this article, ABO Capital CEO, Zandre Eudenio De Campos Finda talks about the short-sightedness of corruption in government and raising corruption awareness through education of the youth.
The world is full of problems that are in desperate need of solving. Climate change, poverty, healthcare and hate speech; there is no shortage of work to be done. Wherever we are, our mission is to put our best foot forward and contribute whatever we can to building a better future.
We have all experienced the feeling of doing what is right, whether it is organizing a local park clean up, developing a new medication that will save lives or even just helping an elderly citizen cross the street. The capacity to do good is in all of us. We are living proof of it.
However, there are those who fight against us. They do not care about the collective and see the world as their own personal playground. They have power, money, and resources, many times most of which they did not even earn themselves. Yet they still feel like they are entitled to everything around them, no matter the social, political, economic or environmental costs.
Corruption is a worldwide problem. While some nations feel its effects more than others, no country is immune from its cancerous impact. It has inserted itself everywhere; politics, business, international affairs, etc. It seems as if every week a story breaks about a politician or business tycoon being investigated or indicted for fraud, bribery or corruption. Just recently, Malik Riaz Hussain, a Pakistani real estate mogul, paid a $248 million fine to the United Kingdom to settle a corruption investigation.
But corruption is not just a flaw of the high and mighty. Every echelon of society faces this issue. Have you ever heard of Flagler County? Me neither until a few days ago, when I read that Belle Terre Elementary School in Palm Coast, Florida is under investigation for misappropriation and/or embezzlement of funds, sexual harassment, race and gender discrimination, libel and defamation, gross mismanagement and repeated violation of whistleblower laws.
I understand what the residents of Flagler County are going through. For years, my home continent has been a breeding ground for corruption and abuse of power, with politicians stealing from government funds to fill their already full pockets. Bribery is rampant across the continent, stifling economic growth and hurting the market. Officials use money that should be going to infrastructure, welfare and healthcare and use it to buy luxury homes or Swiss sports cars.
This can all be very disheartening. If even a public school is not free from the tentacles of corruption, what is? And, more importantly, what can we do to stop it?
Corruption always has and always will exist. This is a reality we must accept. There will always be people putting themselves above, as opposed to besides, others. And some of those people will end up with money and power, making it easy for them to take advantage of the system.
Thankfully, there are a host of journalists, NGOs and government agencies who do their best to prevent and stop corruption. Belle Terre Elementary School’s crimes were exposed because of those groups and individuals who, day in and day out, work to ensure that justice prevails. And in my hometown of Angola, much has been done by the new government to help lessen corruption. Including termination, freezing of assets and even prosecution of those who have abused their power.
But journalists and government agents cannot be the only answer. Not all journalists are as reputable and credible as others. In fact, some journalists take advantage of corrupt environments and make false accusations that damage the image and name of good people. So, what can we – the shopkeepers, the entrepreneurs, the drivers, the farmers – do to help stop corruption?
While we might not be able to fight corruption directly, we can fight it indirectly by simply being the best we can be. We must stand our ground and not let our worst instincts get the best of us. We must be better than those who call themselves our leaders and be an example for those that come after us.
This means that we must be honest in business. Prices must be reasonable and fair, and we must not cheat our neighbor. Taxes should be paid, no matter how much we may dislike it. We are all part of larger communities. If we skimp our share, everyone around us suffers.
But it does not stop at business. Our character expands beyond the walls of our shops and offices. Volunteering and participating in civic projects takes the power out of the hands of the corrupt and into ours. Don’t like how your neighborhood looks and can’t get the government to clean it up? Create a coalition of supportive neighbors and act. The action gets things done.
Beyond our own actions, one of the most critical steps we can take in the fight against corruption is the education of our youth. Worldwide, and in Africa specifically, educating children and teens on what corruption is, and how they can do their part to both avoid and fight it, will be key to the success of the continent. In order to stem the flow of corruption, the next generation needs to not only be aware of the corruption they will face in their everyday lives but how to make a difference.
Corruption, with its promises of wealth and power, can be tempting and difficult to resist. But that is only the case because we, as a society, have created an environment that allows corruption to thrive. We must do more than refuse to play the game; we must change the rules entirely. We must set up a new board, one where corruption is viewed as a parasite, not as a saving grace.
It all comes down to integrity. How do you hold yourself up? How do people see you? If we can stand our ground, we can show the next generation what it means to be a citizen of the world. We can show them that they are a part of something greater, and their needs work hand in hand with their neighbors.
About Zandre Eugenio De Campos Finda
Zandre Eugenio De Campos Finda is one of the great, innovative business leaders and global entrepreneurs emerging out of Africa. Currently, he is chairman and CEO of ABO Capital, an international investment firm headquartered in Angola with holdings throughout the globe. His career has been dedicated to fighting corruption and bettering the country of Angola as well as advancing the likes of other African nations. A big believer in the power of the youth in Africa, Zandre Finda has a commitment to education including investing in Complexo Escolar Privado Internacional (CEPI) school in Angola and sponsoring a scholarship program that paid for a semester of college tuition for a student based in the united states.