Mmegi Blogs :: The AU summit and nightmare of corruption
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Friday 23 February 2018, 16:09 pm.
The AU summit and nightmare of corruption

The just ended AU Summit in Addis Ababa was conducted under a very interesting theme: Winning the Fight against Corruption.
By Solly Rakgomo Fri 02 Feb 2018, 13:03 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: The AU summit and nightmare of corruption

At the Summit, the main call was the need to strengthen the African unity and fight corruption, tax evasion and illicit financial flows. All the delegates at this summit sang from the same political hymn book that in this beautiful continent of Africa there need to eradicate corruption and poverty in Africa.

Even though the summit touched on other issues like Continental Free Trade Area, Free Movement of Persons, Single Markets and liberalization of air transport in Africa, it was the issue of eradicating corruption that really caught my utmost interest. No one needs to be reminded that indeed corruption in Africa has a disproportionate impact on the livelihoods of the poor ordinary Africans. It undermines the delivery of public services, including public housing, healthcare and access to water, adequate sanitation and access to reliable supplies of electricity. Sadly in this continent it has and it still diverts much needed finance and other resources that can be used for development with respect to job creation, poverty alleviation and weaken the capacity of the state to deliver effective services and gravely undermine the trust of ordinary people in government.

The big question now is: What exactly will be done by African leaders to reassure the long suffering masses that indeed they are serious about ending the scourge of corruption which to a large extent has always defined their terms in office? I don’t think I will be accused of being afro-pessimist to state that the road that will be taken to fight and finally eliminate corruption in Africa is not only going to be rocky, but extremely very foggy  as corruption has become institutionalized in many of  Africa’s ruling political parties and sitting heads of state. Almost all of Africa’s political leaders are far from being declared corrupt-free so seeing them sitting around the same wining and dining table in Addis Ababa discussing how to root out corruption in the continent may seem to a lot of ordinary people as a poor joke.

Despite all the rhetoric anti-corruption rhetorical flourishes from AU headquarters, everyone in this continent knows that some anti-corruption campaigns that might be peddled to the citizens of many African states will be nothing but political witch hunt by some leaders in power meant to completely eradicate or marginalize real or imagined political opponents than genuinely fighting corruption at all. One can argue that this strategy is playing itself in Zimbabwe where President Mnangagwa and his cronies are hell-bent on total obliteration of the other ZANU PF faction that has always being allied to Grace Mugabe who had ambitions to succeed her husband, Robert Mugabe who was ousted in 2017.

The other challenge that may totally hinder any fight against corruption is African leaders’


corrupt symbiotic relationship with Western or foreign financial institutions.

For example there is a history of some African kleptocrats hiding their ill-gotten proceeds from public treasuries in overseas banks ( Swiss Banks in particular) buy luxury real estate abroad and their children and spouses more than often enjoy lavish lifestyles in Western capitals. Examples are endless starting with Bongos from Gabon, the Obiang Nguemas of Equatorial Guinea and the Sasso Nguessos of Congo-Brazzaville.

Furthermore, in many African countries, the much needed Watchdog enforcement agencies and regulators often lack capacity, political backing and teeth. This is due to the fact that there are many cases of huge legislative laws which are easy to manipulate by the powerful people within Africa’s political systems. Corruption thrives if there is weak capacity in enforcement agencies or where there are gaps in laws. This is worsened by instances where enforcement and compliance in public sectors in Africa is very low. It is not uncommon in this continent to see corruption busters leading anti-corruption institutions being ousted from their jobs by most of Africa’s ruling parties as soon as they attempt to tackle official corruption head­- on as this might threaten the interest and integrity of powerful ruling parties and their leaders.

Against all these there is a lot of restructuring in many African countries if at all political leadership in the continent wants to be taken serious in their so called war on corruption.

The corruption-fighting capacity of existing institutions must also be strengthened.  Professor Gumede advises that Africans need independent anti-corruption structures, which should be led by agencies in the private sector or civil society. Such agencies, Gumede asserts, will ensure that corrupt officials are brought to book, as well as forcing police and public watchdogs to follow up on cases of corruption exposed in the media and by whistleblowers. Nonetheless, these watchdogs must get the appropriate resources required to attract the best candidates and to remunerate them (and in some cases protect them) appropriately. Furthermore, he says these institutions must be independent from the presidential office or the executive department, such as the police or justice ministry, and be accountable directly to parliament.

 He advises African ruling parties to punish the bad behaviour of their leaders and party members legally, socially and politically, as well as reward good behaviour. If this is highlighted and addressed publicly, governments can begin to restore the moral authority and credibility needed to deal with transgressions from ordinary citizens. Exemplary leaders in Gumede’s words “will encourage ordinary citizens (themselves included) to uphold the rule of law. Civil society will have to play a role in ‘naming and shaming’ those leaders who espouse corrupt values while encouraging those who behave with integrity”


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