ZAM Reporter

The Kleptocracy Project Part II — Anatomy of a System

Call for stories

In the Kleptocracy Project part I, ZAM and its partner network of African investigative journalists delved into the international associates of Africa’s kleptocrats and into the failing state structures that are connected to kleptocratic practices. In Part II, we want to dissect the kleptocracies themselves. Corruption is the system, as they say, but what systems, exactly, are these? How do they work? How is it possible that scandal after scandal, exposure after exposure, continue to leave intact the mechanisms of theft from states and disservice to Africa’s citizens?

The worldwide COVID 19 crisis has exposed ever more starkly how citizens suffer when their governments have used state resources and structures for political elite benefit instead of for services, such as water, roads, and clinics.  ‘Like a tectonic storm, the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to shatter the foundations of states and institutions whose profound failings have been ignored for too long,’ a group of 100 African intellectuals wrote last April in an open letter to Africa’s leaders.

They listed ‘chronic under-investment in public health and fundamental research, limited achievements in food self-sufficiency, the mismanagement of public finances,’ among others.

ZAM and its partners call for stories that investigate the systems of corruption. Whether these are international crime syndicates or unethical businesses bribing their way; local authorities inviting such bribes; malafide/overpriced expenditure of state budgets; malicious administration to facilitate such practices; the promotion of the incompetent to hide these, mismanagement of development aid, or all of the above, our editors (based in Amsterdam, South Africa, Germany/Nigeria, Uganda, Mali and Cameroon) want to hear from you.

Winning stories will be published in ZAM and be rewarded with a fee of US$ 2000.00 (all-in, including expenses) each after acceptance.

 Proposals to participate should include:

  1. What you want to investigate and why; what is your investigative hypothesis;
  2. No more than three paragraphs on the envisaged investigative process (where to get sources and documents to substantiate your hypothesis);
  3. Why this is important internationally and everyone should know about it
  4. The outcome you are fairly sure about (expected minimum story)
  5. Which authority/power is to be held accountable for what you expose
  6. What the impact of the published investigation could / should be
  7. Where you plan to publish or broadcast (beside on the ZAM website)
  8. A sentence or two that describe your investigative journalism record
  9. In attachments, two samples of previously published work

Most importantly, your story must be original. News/investigative results you plan to break that have been published before anywhere, including your country of origin, will not be considered.

If your proposal makes the shortlist, a risk assessment will be discussed between ZAM, yourself and your usual editor(s) and employers; it will be modified if it is deemed to unduly risk your and/or other person’s safety.
ZAM and its editors will assist you during the investigative process and help you write the story to ZAM’s specifications. Once selected, and if conducted as set out in your proposal, publication and pay out are therefore guaranteed.


The deadline for proposals is 1 September 2020

Send your proposal to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The ZAM Editorial College comprised of Lydia Namubiru, Ruona Meyer, Bram Posthumus and Christian Locka will work with the selected journalists in consultation with the ZAM editors in Amsterdam.