Regional cooperation critical in winning war on graft
In Africa, corruption – an age-old plague – has metamorphosed into new forms, so lethal that Sub-Saharan Africa still ranks as the lowest performing region with an average score of 32 against the global average of 43 out of 100, on the 2020 Global Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International.
Africa is showing little improvement from previous years and underscoring a need for urgent action.
In 2003, the African Union adopted the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combatting Corruption (AUCPCC), a roadmap for states to implement governance and anti-corruption policies and systems on a national and regional level. Kenya is among the 44 African states that have ratified the convention.
However, the slow implementation of the provisions of AUCPCC by member states continues to derail progress in the fight against corruption.
This underscores the need for partnerships and collaboration among the AU, African Union Advisory Board on Corruption, the Regional Economic Communities and other anti-corruption stakeholders at regional and national level, to turn the tide in combating corruption.
On Saturday, Kenya joined AU member States to mark the fifth African Anti-Corruption Day.
These commemorations should not just be forums where stakeholders condemn corruption with grandiose metaphors but fail to recognise the need for member states to enforce the key areas of the convention including, criminalisation of illicit enrichment offenses, which is notoriously difficult to prosecute because many suspected offenders are high-profile and well-connected figures who often enjoy political immunity.
In May 2021, the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) adopted the motion for a resolution to stop Illicit Financial Flows in the extractives sector in East Africa.
Although the motion is yet to be sent to the Council of Ministers for action, such efforts should be supported and fortified with the use of technology to expedite the tracking of Illicit Financial Flows to make it difficult for public officials and other individuals to enrich themselves through corrupt acts, and support recovery of stolen assets.
As African states identify the challenges and solutions in the fight against graft, Regional Economic Communities should consider enacting comprehensive whistleblower protection legislations to fortify the protection of whistleblowers and witnesses of corruption as undertaken by State Parties to the AUCPCC.
This is because most State parties, such as Kenya, have failed to establish the mechanism through enabling legislation, leading to poor protection of individuals that risk life and limb to report corruption.
This is contrary to the commitments undertaken by ratifying the convention which requires adoption of legislative and other measures for the protection of witnesses and informants in corruption and related offences, and that citizens report instances of corruption without fear of reprisals.
The region’s political leadership must also encourage a culture of corporate transparency, accountability, and integrity by not indulging in corruption themselves.
Only then will Africa start to effectively address the scourge of corruption. — The writer is the Executive Director, Transparency International Kenya