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Corruption and patronage in post-colonial Sub-Saharan Africa: an Afrocentric ethical critique.

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Corruption has become one of the worrying plagues that affect political and socio-economic conditions of nations globally. Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the regions that is adversely affected by the effects of this menace. Even though corruption has attracted a lot of scholarship in the region, less attention has been paid to the role of political patronage and entitlement ethos on corruption prevalence. As a result, this thesis argues that the symbiotic relationship between political patronage and a strong sense of entitlement by politicians leads to endemic corruption in the region. The study adopts conceptual analysis method whereby corruption, patronage and entitlement are critically analysed. These concepts are analysed in the context of the struggle politics that characterised the transition from colonialism to post-colonialism and entitlement ethos portrayed by the national liberation movements that became governments. In order to establish the influence of patronage and entitlement on corruption, the study addresses various concerns. The key concerns include ascertaining the role of political patronage towards pervasive corruption in the governments of post-colonial sub-Saharan African countries, the metamorphosis of corrupt culture by the ruling liberation parties into entitlement ethos and the determination of the role that African ethics can play towards proffering a tenable and contextually relevant basis for critiquing corruption in the region. To respond to these concerns, the study established a conceptual interface between corruption and patronage. The study also traced how corruption became a corollary of weak colonial governments’ institutions, which were later inherited by independent governments. The study argues that from a monopolistic sense of legitimacy that characterised national liberation movements’ the political culture of entitlement has led to endemic corruption. Governments of former liberation movements have exhibited these characteristics through their dictatorial, predatory and entitlement political culture as a means of preserving their purported exclusive right to rule. In the light of the above observations, it is concluded that the manner in which political patronage and entitlement ethos were exercised by the national liberation movements that became governments have led to endemic corruption. African ethics is therefore adopted as the relevant critical tool upon which corruption and the ethos of entitlement in the sub-Saharan African region are critiqued. Based on its contextual relevance and ability to prioritize the wellbeing of the community above individual self-interest, African ethics has a potential to provide a tenable basis for anti-corruption discourse in the region and thus inform effective anti-corruption strategies.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.