How best to fight corruption in Africa – UN envoy
Africa needs to invest in corruption prevention strategies to achieve sustainable development that will not leave anyone behind, says United Nations Under Secretary General and Special Adviser on Africa, Ms. Bience Gawanas.
Speaking at a two-day Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa (RCM) meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Gawanas said preventing graft would help save the continent billions of dollars.
The RCM meeting is one of the sessions of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development being held in Addis Ababa.
“Corruption is a clear and present threat to achieving a sustainable path to Africa’s transformation.
“Graft was not only hindering essential services delivery, but also undermining governments by destroying public trust and eroding the rule of law; increasing inequality and hindering national and local economic development,” she said.
Gawanas said corruption threatened the continent’s peace and security, especially with its youthful population looking for equal opportunity, inclusive growth, decent jobs, good education and health care systems.
“Today’s youths are not ones who will sit quietly when faced with injustice. When governments and institutions lose this public trust because of corruption, they squander hard-fought gains in sustainable development, social cohesion as well as peace and security,” the Special Adviser said.
She said given the global nature of corruption, the UN had a great convening power to help fight the scourge, adding her office would continue to dedicate its resources to finding a cure for graft.
“We need to empower African civil society organisations, the media and ordinary citizens to call out corruption whether it is petty bribery or political corruption,” she said.
She said more importantly was the need to empower citizens to peacefully demand action against corruption and end the perception of impunity.
According to her, it is the ‘small fish’, who go to jail while those stealing billions from state coffers and institutions roam free.
“We need to strengthen judicial systems so that they are strong enough to withstand pressure when they go after high profile corruption cases. Governments also need to reward good behaviour and not persecute whistleblowers.
“On a more personal note, I have spent all my life fighting for social justice and equal opportunities for everyone.
“I know very well that corruption is a disease that stands in the way of these worthy achievements and that we have to work together and work harder to find the right cure,” she said.
She commended the African Union for choosing the theme: ‘Winning the fight against corruption: A sustainable path for Africa’s transformation’ for 2018.
“Rooting out the evil of corruption will make Africa a more equitable place and bring us one step closer to the overarching aim of the Agenda 2030 of leaving no one behind and that of Agenda 2063 of creating the Africa we want,” she said.