A ‘Sustainable Path’ to a Corruption Free Africa
In January President Buharu of Nigeria launched the African Union summit meeting with the theme of ‘Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation’, epitomising the progressive transition Africa is currently experiencing.
In 2013 it was estimated that annually Africa loses 150 billion dollars to corruption. This is highly detrimental to the economic growth of the continent, wherein 80 percent of the population live off just 2 dollars a day. Foreign private investment is often repelled by such activity and resources ascribed for poverty reduction and infrastructural development are lost to bribery, embezzlement and other abuses of power. Not to mention the damage it causes to international aid efforts, where donors are disheartened in seeing their contributions acquiesced by corrupt officials.
However, Amnesty International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) shows that in recent years Africa has witnessed a significant reduction in levels of corruption across the continent. This has partly been achieved through the adoption of national, as well as international conventions which have arisen in the last 20 years.
Two major trail blazing countries in this effort are Rwanda and Botswana.
Botswana is marked as a shining example of how an African nation can tackle its corruption issues. Since the corruption scandals of the 1990’s, holding high-ranking government officials accountable for the misuse of public money has become intrinsically linked with the desire for a clean international reputation. Indeed, reforms of its legal and institutional infrastructures has enabled Botswana to become extremely effective in dealing with its corruption issues.
Despite criticism of President Ian Khama, regarding mismanagement of corruption issues during his term, there is no denying that he has contributed to the success of the nation’s anti-corruption strategy. For example in 2009, during his presidency, the Financial Intelligence Agency was established to monitor suspicious financial activity and relay key information to law enforcement agencies.
Botswana has also developed a strong legal framework of anti-corruption laws that work in harmony with one another. There is also an extremely effective whistle blower hotline that people may call to report corruption. Importantly, the protection of whistle blowers’ anonymity is protected by law.
On the whole the judiciary is considered to be fair and competent. Judicial reforms of 2012 saw the creation of a special court with the sole purpose of resolving corruption based cases.
Rwanda currently holds a rating of 48 out of 180 in Amnesty International’s CPI, making it a leader in the fight against corruption in West Africa. Since 2004 President Paul Kagame’s government has severely clamped down on corruption, consequently in the past three years running it has been ranked the third least corrupt African nation.
Following Rwanda’s tragic genocidal civil war, its recovery has been characterised by political stability and a revitalised economy. The Programme Manager at Transparency International-Rwanda Chapter noted the successful anti-corruption action to be a down to strong and ethical governmental institutions, civil society and media.
Between 2016 and 2017, Rwanda’s National Police witnessed a 7 percent decrease in corruption. Indeed, any officer convicted of corruption is automatically dismissed.
During the National Leadership Retreat held two weeks ago, Prosecutor General Jean Bosco Mutangano put forward new manoeuvres to fight grafting. The recovery of embezzled public resources was a major aspect of the 13 resolutions produced during the retreat. Likewise, it was asserted that the government would doll out harsher penalties to those who refuse to abide by the anti-corruption sanctions of the Auditor General.
The social situation for Rwandans however, is far from perfect. In order to ensure the stability of the ruling party’s hegemony, the government imposes restrictions on basic human rights such as freedom of expression and freedom of association.
Nambia, Cabo Verde and Seychelles have also experienced significant improvements, achieving higher scores in comparison to countries like Italy, Hungary and Greece.
Cote d’Lvoire has climbed 9 rankings in the CPI from 2013-2017. A great deal of this success is credited to President Alassane Ouattara, who since gaining office has worked with international institutions such as the Extractives Industry Transparency to combat corruption. In 2013 the High Authority for Good Governance was established to act as a national anti-corruption authority.
Leadership is Key
Amnesty International comments that strong political leadership that is committed to actually implementing its anti-corruption laws and institutions is key to making lasting change. This has certainly been the case in Rwanda and Botswana. Countries with weak media and non-government organisations however, tend to have higher rates of corruption. Further, corruption thrives within the turmoil and confusion caused by war. In the past, nations making headway have slid down the CPI due to the outbreak of armed conflict.
6 of the 10 most corrupt countries in the world are African. Regardless, this recent action has demonstrated the continent’s continued commitment to achieving transparency and accountability as a culture within its governments and leading organisations.