Spurred by blatant high levels of endemic corruption in Commonwealth Africa, the continent’s graft busting agencies will next week once again converge in Malawi for a common purpose to discuss and find lasting solutions to the on-going fight against corruption.
The annual conference and meeting for heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa which is being organised by the Anti-corruption Bureau (ACB) in conjunction with the Malawi Government and in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat will take place at Sunbird Nkopola Lodge in the Lakeshore District of Mangochi from May 29 to June 4, 2017.
According to the organisers, the ACB, the meeting will be officially opened by the Malawi’s Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Samuel Tembenu SC and will play host to one of Africa’s most influential and authoritative investigative multi-award winning South African journalist and author of the best-selling book, Nothing left to steal Mzilikazi wa Africa and Malawi’s Press Corporation Group Chief Executive George Partridge as keynote speakers.
ACB Director General, Lucas Kondowe in an interview with Nyasa Times said: “In Africa, the single biggest threat to growth and development is corruption. The African continent is losing billions from corruption and fraud. We need to change our mindset.”
“We need to understand that corruption is evil and by understanding corruption’s full impact and seeing it through the very eyes of its victims and not the perpetrators, we can create new weapons to combat it,” added Kondowe.
It is expected that at the symposium the delegates to the seventh annual general meeting and conference will share experiences on challenges in fighting corruption and present the various exercises they undertook, activities undertaken, outcomes, reflections and lessons learnt in the past year.
Last annual general meeting and conference was held in Namibia.
Kondowe said this year’s summit seeks to discuss on how best national anti-corruption agencies can fully engage in the fight against corruption and related offences and the popularisation of the fight against corruption with the full participation of the media and the civil society.
Said Kondowe: “We aim to create an enabling and conducive environment that will enable both the civil society and the media to hold governments to the highest levels of transparency and accountability in the management of public affairs.”
The ACB’s chief emphasized that corruption is the most neglected human rights violation in the recent times because it fuels injustice, inequality and depravation and that it is the major catalyst for poverty among the population in Africa and Malawi in particular.
“The solution to ending corruption is not solely with ACB or any anti-corruption agency; it lies in good, ethical leadership, strong and enforceable laws against corruption, severe sanctions for corruption crimes underpinned by a national culture of promoting ethics, sincerity and honesty from individual to family to national level,” said Kondowe.
The Malawian anti-graft body chief said there is hope when African leaders in the likes of Professor Peter Mutharika, Uhuru Kenyatta, Paul Kagame and Tanzania among others vigilantly highlight corruption as a major impediment to their countries’ economic progress adding that signifies that we might be seeing the final days of impunity.
“The fight against corruption is not for the government and the ACB alone to win; it needs all of us as a country to take part, it is every citizen’s war to fight. Together we root the disease out. As we can all see, the Malawi government under president (Peter) Mutharika is serious in the fight against corruption and as ACB we are doing everything as constitutionally mandated in ensuring that we will bring to book any person found to be corrupt,” said the soft-spoken Kondowe.
In Africa, the social and political consequences of corruption rob African nations of resources and potential and drive inequality and resentment and corruption cheats the African continent’s governments of some $50 Billion annually and stymies successful cities, sustainable economies and safe societies, according to Transparency International.
Transparency International chairperson Jose Ugaz said: “Corruption creates and increases poverty and exclusion while corrupt individuals with political power enjoy a lavish life as millions of Africans are deprived of their basic needs like food, health, education, housing, access to clean water and sanitation according to Transparency International.”
Transparency International estimates that around 75 people in Sub-Saharan Africa have paid a bribe in the past year.
Corruption discourages donors, development partners and destroys investor confidence, strangling development by the neck, progress and prosperity in Africa and a joint report by the African Development Bank and Global Financial Integrity found that up to 65 percent of lost revenue in the continent through commercial transactions.
Malawi launched the National Anti-Corruption Strategy in 2008 and it has since then thought to have brought many improvements to the anti-corruption framework to the southern African impoverished country.
Corruption poses a serious challenge in the development of Malawi – the country suffers from various types of corruption from high level political corruption to petty bribery that impedes service delivery and patronage and nepotism that exacerbates inequality and poverty in the wider Malawian society.
According to Transparency International, in Africa, the police and the courts – the institutions which exist to safeguard citizens’ rights – are widely seen as the most corrupt, with over a quarter of those who had dealings with them saying they had paid a bribe.
Nearly one in five Africans paid bribes to obtain official documents and access to medical care and road traffic offences are in most cases negotiated through an unofficial fee, gift or a favour.
Malawi’s leading and outspoken justice and human rights crusader, lawyer and political and socio-economic commentator, John Gift Mwakhwawa said: “Corruption is the most serious plague we currently have in this country, and it seems it has become a way of life. Yet there is no such obligation to act against endemic corruption.”
Mwakhwawa said that international agreements define various corrupt practices as a crime but not corruption itself. Instead, it is passively defined as a technical flaw in government, it horrors disguised in legalese and corruption victims get a little or no mention.
“We need to give the ACB the muscle and stamina by joining the moral and legal dots between corruption, human rights abuses and international crimes. Africans have the most at stake in getting anti-corruption disproportionately affects poor people while the rich keep getting obscenely rich,” said Mwakhwawa.
Apart from the Commonwealth Secretariat, the conference has also been sponsored by Press Corporation, Standard Bank, FMB Bank, National Bank of Malawi, Sunbird Hotels, Times Group, Nation Publications, South African Airways, FDH, MACRA, Ecobank, CDH Investment Bank, Nico Holdings, Fattani Printers, Sun ‘n’ Sand, TNM, Sunseed Cooking Oil, Kukoma Cooking Oil, and Football Association of Malawi (FAM) among others.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :