Rabat - It is an established truth, almost axiomatic, that world leaders are, indeed, world liars that take their people’s trust in them for granted. A sort of a blank check they can use at will and with no scruples, whatsoever.
Rabat – It is an established truth, almost axiomatic, that world leaders are, indeed, world liars that take their people’s trust in them for granted. A sort of a blank check they can use at will and with no scruples, whatsoever.
The word “politics” ought to be revisited by linguists and defined as “the art of lying,” instead of “the art of managing the affairs of the city.” People have not waited for language specialists to do their work; they have already lost faith in politicians. The difference between autocratic rule and the democratic one is that in the former politicians lie openly and make one accept it by force and in the latter it is hidden.
First, there was the FIFA scandal of taking bribes and cheating while applying the rules and laws of this monopolistic institution to the players and clubs, especially in poor countries. FIFA’s head, Joseph Blatter, lied all his time as president and cheated unashamedly to make money for himself and his accomplices in the gang and, of course, his henchmen. When he was caught, he was not judged but just asked politely to resign.
Now, it is the world leaders that have been caught red-handed cheating the revenue authorities of their countries by depositing their wealth in fiscal paradises to avoid paying taxes in their homelands and maybe, even, engaging in money-laundering practices, who knows?
What can be done? In the actual systems not much. Probably, if at all, just throw the culprits in a “luxurious” prison and hope for the best unless democracies decide to found a body with wide powers to become some sort of: “Politics Police” that could vet politicians non-stop and when caught judge them swiftly and take their money away from them as repayment for harm done to the nation.
Panama Papers scandal is showing clearly that politicians are a breed apart; they can easily lead a double life without flinching. In a word, they are despicable because while the poor are forced to pay, the rich and the powerful can evade taxes and accompanying laws in total impunity. José Mujica, the ex-President of Uruguay nicknamed “the poorest president in the world” described them, quite rightly in the following terms:
As soon as politicians start climbing up the ladder, they suddenly become kings. I don’t know how it works, but what I do know is that republics came to the world to make sure that no one is more than anyone else. You need a palace, red carpet, a lot of people behind you saying ‘Yes, sir.’ I think all of that is awful.
The 11.5 million documents leaked to the press by a Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, the papers that ignited the current financial scandal were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitunt and circulated worldwide. The gigantic international project involved approximately 400 journalists across 75 countries, going painstakingly through roughly 11.5 million documents from an infamous Panamanian law firm specializing in creating offshore holding companies.
In reaction to this worldwide scandal, Richard Brookes, an international financial expert, wrote in The Guardian:
“…tax havens need not just to reform but to end. Companies, trusts and other structures constituted in this shadow world must be refused access to the real one, so they can no longer steal money and wash it back in. No bank accounts, no property ownership, no access to legal systems. The anti-corruption summit being hosted by David Cameron in May is an opportunity to start the international team effort that this would require. The world has been entertained by tax havens long enough.”
As for Rana Foroohar, argues in a piece published in the Time, that this scandal can lead to the capitalism’s great crisis:
“To me, this is one of the key issues at work in the U.S. presidential election. Voters know at a gut level that our system of global capitalism is working mainly for the 1 %, not the 99 %. That’s a large part of why both Sanders and Trump have done well, because they tap into that truth, albeit in different ways. The Panama Papers illuminate a key aspect of why the system isn’t working–because globalization has allowed the capital and assets of the 1 % (be they individuals or corporations) to travel freely, while those of the 99 % cannot. Globalization is supposed to be about the free movement of people, goods, and capital. But in fact, the system is set up to enable that mobility mainly for the rich (or for large corporations). The result is global tax evasion, the offshoring of labor, and an elite that flies 35,000 feet over the problems of nation states and the tax payers within them.”
In principle, there is no offense in keeping offshore accounts but such a practice denotes that the leaders have no faith in their economies and are ready to use their capital to benefit multinationals rather than their own countries, which are, after all, badly in need of such funds to create jobs and national wealth.
The Panama papers have revealed the following:
- 2 billion dollars of Russian money from state banks is hidden in offshore accounts by the entourage of President Vladimir Poutin;
- 8 families of current or former members of the politburo of the ruling Communist Party of China hold offshore accounts;
- 143 politicians using offshore tax havens among them 12 world leaders,
- Prominent leaders with offshore accounts are: Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister; Ayad Allawi, ex-interim prime minister and former vice-president of Iraq; Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine; Alaa Mubarak, son of Egypt’s former president;and the prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson:
- 6 members of the House of Lords, 3 former Conservative MPsfrom the UK;
- A key member of FIFA’s powerful ethics committee, etc.
Politics is undoubtedly a dirty game played by people who can easily go dirty in their actions. However, one should not generalize, and, indeed, some world icons come to mind for their righteousness and uprightness and keep the hope for the best very high.
Mahatma Ghandi “Bapu” (1869-1948): this frail and peace-loving leader that remains the beacon of rectitude in modern times. He devoted his life to fighting the British for the independence of his country, while leading a frugal life eating Indian vegetarian food and wearing cotton dhoti and shawl, woven with yarn hand-spun. He set an example of moral uprightness to India and the world. He proved to humanity, at large, that peaceful resistance can pay and his nonviolent resistance to British rule won independence to his country in 1948.
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968): an American Baptist minister, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, who “had a dream” that changed America and the world for the better but had to pay for it with his own life and did not, in the least, hesitate to make such a sacrifice. He played a major role in the American civil rights movement from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968. He was, undoubtedly, the driving force behind historical events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington, which led to such landmark legislation as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He was awarded the Noble Prize in 1964 for passive resistance inspired by Ghandi.
Nelson Mandela “Madiba” (1918-2013): This man stood up to the South African apartheid system in his youth and refused to compromise in spite of offers made to him by the White establishment. As a result, he spent 27 years of his life in prison. When the apartheid system floundered in 1994 and he was released, he did not seek revenge. Instead, he directed his party the National African Council (ANC) towards forgiveness and national reconciliation which led to the founding of the South African rainbow nation: diverse but united. He led new South Africa from 1994 to 1999 and left power on his own will to become, somehow, the “father of the nation”.
José Mujica (1935- ): the Uruguayan ex-president who went down history as the cleanest and poorest leader ever. After 5 years in power (2010-2015), this humble leader stepped down out of office with an approval rating of 70%. Back in 2012, the BBC called him the “world’s poorest President”:
“President Mujica has shunned the luxurious house that the Uruguayan state provides for its leaders and opted to stay at his wife’s farmhouse, off a dirt road outside the capital, Montevideo.The president and his wife work the land themselves, growing flowers.This austere lifestyle – and the fact that Mujica donates about 90% of his monthly salary, equivalent to $12,000 (£7,500), to charity – has led him to be labelled the poorest president in the world.”
And the world came to adore him for his frugality, the simplicity of his lifestyle. He lived on a ramshackle farm and gave away most of his pay to the poor of his country.
May be the United Nations ought to create prizes for good governance bearing the names of these heroes that can be awarded to the cleanest world leaders when they leave office.
After the WikiLeaks that uncovered the doings of governments worldwide good or bad or secretive and made political dealings known to the public, there was the wise uncovering of the soccer multinational behemoth FIFA and its dirty dozens taking bribes left and right. Now the Panama Papers scandal is shedding lights on tax evasion and dirty financial dealings of the leaders of the world and the powerful, who, in principle, are supposed to set up the example to the people they lead.
So what is next? Is it the sexual exploits, perversity and fantasies of the famous and the powerful or what?
Definitely, the public is enjoying the weaknesses of the high society and the powerful and hoping that these scandals will make the world a more transparent environment where the baddies will not be able to hide anymore behind power and wealth and that from their vantage position they ought to serve the people, whose votes got them their position and whose sweat made their wealth.
You can follow Mohamed Chtatou on Twitter @Ayurinu
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