Sample Law Paper on The Nexus of Corruption, Poverty, and Politics in Mali

The nexus of corruption, poverty, and politics is at the root cause of both poverty and
political instability in the West African nation of Mali. Mali is bedeviled by an unending cycle of
political instability characterized by military coups, secession movements, and Islamic jihadist
terrorist insurgencies. Grand corruption has left the majority of Malians languishing in wanton
poverty and the nation’s democratic government bereft of legitimacy. The corruption, poverty,
and politics nexus in Mali is, thus, at the center of the socio-economic and political turmoil
threatening to engulf the country. The perennial socio-economic and political issues in Mali begs
the question; what are the causes and consequences of the nexus of corruption, poverty, and
politics in the country? Grand corruption, the result of Mali’s national political framework of
neopatrimonialism, has resulted in wanton poverty and lawlessness in Mali, thus, negatively
impacting a wide range of sectors, societal institutions, and social service provisions in the
Corruption in Mali
Corruption has permeated all spheres of life in Mali; thus, resulting in wanton poverty in the
nation. There is irrefutable evidence of perennial high-level corruption and embezzlement of
public resources in Mali by the nation’s political and economic elite. Financial records published
by the Bureau du verificateur general (BVG), Mali’s auditor general’s office, in 2013, estimated
that the nation loses more than 7% of its national budget annually to fraud, corruption, and

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wastage (Bøås, Morten, and Torheim 1280). For example, in 2017, the BVG unearthed a
corruption scandal worth over $243 million involving the then incumbent, President Ibrahim
Boubacar Keita (Boeke and de Valk 6). Though corruption and impunity are prevalent at every
level of the Malian state, they are especially concentrated at the top echelons of the Mali
government, where it has destroyed the military and undermined various administrative
institutions and services (Wing 478). In the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index conducted by
Transparency International, Mali scored 32 out of 100 that, when translated into country
rankings, resulted in the nation being ranked 116 out of 176 countries (Shipley 12). The massive
amounts of financial resources being swindled from Mali public coffers have resulted in rising
poverty levels in the nation.
Neopatrimonalism in Mali Politics
National politics in Mali is characterized by neopatrimonialism that is the chief cause of Mali’s
perennial corruption and political instability. Neopatrimonalism is a political system involving
the use of state resources in securing the loyalty of opposition leaders critical to a ruling
government (Bøås, Morten, and Torheim 1285). Since neopatrimonialism is based on buying off
critics using state resources, it has fueled corruption in Mali. Neopatrimonalism has been the
modus operandi of the Malian government since the nation’s independence from France in 1960
(Bøås, Morten, and Torheim 1285). Instead of adopting long-lasting political solutions, such as
fostering genuine inclusivity and equitable resource allocation, to tackle Mali’s political
challenges, the Malian government has consistently relied on neopatrimonialism that only offers
temporary respite with little tangible reform. Neopatrimonalism in Mali politics has contributed
to the incessant calls for secession by several factions in the country. Currently, the nation's
Tuaregs, under the Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), are demanding to secede

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from Mali (Whitehouse). The MNLA has, for years, sought genuine inclusivity and participation
in the Malian government, but their efforts have been curtailed by the Mali government’s
reliance on neopatrimonialism that is repugnant to long-lasting political reforms.
Consequences of Corruption in Mali
Poor Economic Performance
Grand corruption in Mali has negatively impacted businesses, both local and foreign direct
investments, and, thus, singlehandedly resulted in Mali’s economic slump. According to the
World Bank Enterprise Survey 2016, corruption has made doing business in Mali almost
impossible due to the hefty bribes that companies are forced to part with in order to operate in
the nation (Bastagli and Toulmin 75). Data from the World Bank Enterprise Survey 2016,
revealed that more than 189 companies, particularly foreign business organizations, were forced
to bribe or offer kickbacks to Malian government officials in order to conduct business activities
in the nation (Bastagli and Toulmin 76). Corruption has also negatively affected both domestic
and foreign investments in Mali, with potential investors turned away by the high operation
costs, fueled by bribes, in the nation. Gold mining, a top driver of Mali's economy, is also
inundated with corruption that has resulted in increased illicit activity in the sector (Harmon 27).
Mali's political elite are also siphoning the foreign aid and grants to the nation, and this has
resulted in several international organizations, such as the World Bank, limiting their financial
assistance programs to the country, further shrinking the Malian economy.
Undermining of the Rule of Law
The corruption, poverty, and politics nexus in Mali have weakened the practice of the rule of law
in the nation. According to a 2016 Human Rights Report by the U.S. Department of State,
bribery and influence peddling is widespread in Malian courts that have been neglected and

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mismanaged due to corruption (Boeke and de Valk 7). Data from the Afrobarometer survey 2018
revealed that all most all judges and magistrates in Mali are corrupt, with the public having low
trust in the nation's judicial system (Boeke and de Valk 12). The lack of public trust and
confidence in Mali's judicial system has resulted in large swathes of the Malian population
resorting to informal and traditional methods of justice resolution that are not democratic or
progressive in nature. The existence of high-octane corruption in Mali’s judicial system has
weakened the rule of law in the nation with the rich and those with political connections being
exempted from rigorous legal prosecution (Wing 480). Corruption, which is deeply-embedded in
Mali's judicial system has, therefore, inculcated a culture of impunity in the nation. The Malian
president is also the chair of the Conseil Superieur de la Magistrature, the high judicial council
which makes judicial appointments (Wing 480). The presence of the president in the high
judicial council undermines the independence of Mali’s judiciary, therefore, fueling impunity
and undermining the rule of law in the nation.
Poor Social Services
High-level corruption has negatively impacted the issuance and dissemination of essential social
services, such as education and healthcare, in Mali. Grand corruption in Mali drains a large
portion of Mali’s national budget, thus, disrupting the equitable dissemination of social services
in the nation. According to the Afrobarometer survey 2018, more than 65% of individuals in
Mali have no access to clean water, healthcare, or quality education due to wanton looting of the
country’s financial resources (Boeke and de Valk 12). Essential services such as healthcare,
water, and electricity are the preserve of the few politically connected individuals in Mali.
According to the Human Rights Report by the U.S. Department of State 2016, the provision of
essential public services in Mali is also undermined by the Direction generale des marches

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publics (DGMP), considered one of the most corrupt public agencies in Mali, which is
responsible for public procurement in the nation (Shipley 29). In 2014, the BVG reported a $100
million corruption heist at the DGMP in form of kickbacks and bribes and incriminated top-
ranking Mali government officials in the saga (Shipley 29). The high-level corruption that
bedevils the dissemination of essential services in Mali has forced several humanitarian
organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to operate social programs in the
Increased Organized Crime and Violence
Corruption in Mali has resulted in increased organized crime and politically instigated violence
in the country. According to a 2013 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
(UNODC), Mali is a central hub of transnational crimes, such as drug trafficking and both
migrant and contraband smuggling, globally (Harmon 75). The Malian city of Gao is an integral
migrant embarkation point for onward illegal travel to Europe and is also the nerve center of
West Africa's cocaine trafficking network (Boeke and de Valk 10). The 2009 "Air Cocaine" case,
where a Boeing 727 transporting hundreds of tons of Cocaine flying into Mali crushed and burnt
out in the Malian desert, is a perfect example of the massive cocaine network in the nation
(Boeke and de Valk 10). Mali has also been rocked by an ever-increasing number of insurgents
such as the Ansar Dine, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), who are involved in kidnap
for ransom and contraband smuggling. According to the 2015 UNODC report, the high rates of
organized crime in Mali are purely due to corruption that has left many youths unemployed, and
the Malian security forces disillusioned (Balt). Mali is perennially rocked by politically
instigated violence, particularly by the various secessionist factions in the country, such as the
MNLA. The ever-rising corruption and poverty levels in Mali have resulted in a restless and

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despondent population, particularly among the youth, who have resorted to violent political
causes, such as the fight for secession, Islamic insurgencies, and inter-ethnic clashes.
Rising Unemployment Levels
High-level corruption in Mali has resulted in an ever-shrinking labor market, therefore, creating
massive unemployment in the nation. According to a 2017 World Bank Development Indicators
Report, Mali’s unemployment rate was estimated to be 9.8% (Boeke and de Valk 10). The
International Labour Organization in a 2017 report estimated that 73% of the economically
active population in Mali works in the informal sector, with the youth unemployment rate in the
West African country standing at 12% (Boeke and de Valk 10). Incessant corruption has led to
the siphoning of financial resources needed by the Malian government to hire new people into
the nation’s formal sectors of employment. The ever-rising unemployment levels in Mali,
particularly among the youth, is a big political challenge as the disillusioned and unemployed
individuals are at a high risk of joining organized crime and Islamic militant groups in the nation
such as the AQIM.
Corruption has permeated all socio-economic and political institutions in Mali. High-level
corruption, coupled with neopatrimonialism politics, has plunged Mali into an unprecedented
economic, social, and political crisis. Corruption has resulted in high levels of poverty in Mali,
which has wrecked the equitable and quality dissemination of essential services in the country,
such as education and healthcare provision. Moreover, corruption has also destroyed several
societal institutions in Mali, such as the judiciary, and undermined the rule of law in the nation,
thus, creating impunity. The corruption, poverty, and politics nexus in Mali has also spurred

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political instability characterized by inter-ethnic clashes, violent demands for secession, and
increased Islamic insurgency in the West African nation.

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Works Cited

Balt, Marije. “Youth Unemployment in Mali: A Magnet for Criminals and Terrorists.” The
Broker, 23 Apr. 2015,
Bastagli, Francesca, and Camilla Toulmin. "Mali: Economic factors behind the crisis." (2014),
Bøås, Morten, and Liv Elin Torheim. "The Trouble in Mali—corruption, collusion,
resistance." Third World Quarterly 34.7 (2013): 1279-1292,
Boeke, Sergei, and Giliam de Valk. "The Unforeseen 2012 Crisis in Mali: The Diverging
Outcomes of Risk and Threat Analyses." Studies in Conflict & Terrorism (2019): 1-20,
Harmon, Stephen A. Terror and insurgency in the Sahara-Sahel region: corruption, contraband,
jihad, and the Mali war of 2012-2013. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2014.
Shipley, Thomas. "Mali: Overview of corruption and anti-corruption." Transparency
International. U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre Michelsen Institute (2017),
Whitehouse, Bruce. “The Malian Governments Challenge to Restore Order in the
North.” Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, 16 Nov. 2017,
Wing, Susanna D. "Mali: Politics of a crisis." African Affairs 112.448 (2013): 476-485,