The formation of the Organization of Africa Union (OAU) on May 25, 1963 and changing to Africa Union (AU) on May 26, 2001 till today, had seen marginal economic growth with massive corruption; border disputes and migration from the sub-Saharan to Europe; religious wars and terrorism; and other tyrannical leadership styles. Corruption militates prosperity and economic growth.
The Fight Against Corruption
On January 2018, the Africa Union (AU) prominently declared 2018 as the Africa Anti-corruption year with the theme: winning the fight Against Corruption; A sustainable path to Africa’s Transformation. The theme seems to max out corruption wholly but 5 months into 2018 and no member of AU has been questioned on government scandals and economic crimes. The AU’s Agenda 2063, under Aspiration 3 recognizes that corruption erodes the development of a universal culture of good governance, democratic values, justice and rule of law. Again, the United Nations (UN) Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goal 16, calls on countries to promote and develop accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. These vividly call for reducing bribery, loot and share, and all other forms of corruption. These measures are enough to arrest the speed of corruption on the continent.
In Nigeria, a monumental corruption was denuded by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2015, after President Mahamedu Buhari assumed office. The Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison – Madueke was charged for causing financial erosion of $6 billion from revenue that should have gone into state envelope. In South Africa, the Passenger Rail Agency (PRAS) made a multi-million orders for Spanish Locomotives, after a dubious procurement process, that were too large to fit through tunnels in South Africa (BTI 2018). Elsewhere, there’s a massive on going fact-finding of rich families like the Bongos of Gabon, Nguesso of Democratic Republic of Congo, Obiang Nguemas of Equatorial Guinea for buying properties, and luxurious cars overseas.
In August 2017, Ethiopia arrested its state’s Minister for Finance, Alemayehu Gujo on corruption charges after parliament lifted his immunity. In the country, where the AU has its headquarters located, 37 persons including government officials, business people and brokers were arrested for their involvement in deals, which allegedly led to the embezzlement of estimated $47.2 million. The Ugandan Government misappropriated Sh38 Billion donor aid money when the Auditor General uncovered the rot in October 2012. This led to donor countries such as Norway, Ireland, Denmark and United Kingdom suspending their aids to Uganda officials (Businge, 2013). In the same country, no Ugandan official was held accountable for the £4m Irish Aid theft (Corcoran, 2013).
In the effort to fighting transnational crimes, the Office of the Attorney General and the Swiss Federal Office on 28th April 2017, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to recover Billions of Shillings allegedly hidden in Swiss Accounts (Star, 2017). The Government of Kenya also recovered assets worth Sh3 billion that had been lost over the years through corrupt deals (Kamau, 2017). Kenya also retrieved about $1.2 million of Global Fund, which was stolen by Senior Officials at the Ministry of Health out of the siphoned amount $3,253,161. This money was intended to be used to fight HIV Aids, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (Gathura, 2017). There is a very high risk of encountering corruption in Chad’s tax administration. Companies report that bribes in connection with annual tax payments are commonplace (GCR 2015-2016). Paying taxes in Chad is complex and costly. A business executive spends on average 732 hours per year on filing, preparing and paying taxes, and has to deal with a total tax rate of 63.5 percent of profits (DB 2016). Corruption is a very high risk for companies seeking to invest in Chad. Corruption is systemic and often takes the form of nepotism and cronyism (Corruption Report).
In Angola, the son of Angola’s former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos planned to siphon off $1.5 billion when he ran the oil-rich country’s sovereign wealth fund. He was appointed by his father to head the $5 billion sovereign fund in 2013. $500 million had already been transferred to a London bank and the huge amount was about to follow (Times Live, 2018). According to Corruption Digest, Zimbabwe’s vast diamond wealth has been largely squandered through mismanagement and corruption. Even Mugabe himself once admitted that some $15 billion diamond revenue remains unaccounted for.
The AU has an oversight responsibility for continental norm-setting, and to create the legal instruments to fight corruption. Only 37 African countries in 2003 ratified the AU’s Convention and Combating Corruption and entered into force three years after. The countries that entered and had signatories to the convention are still doing little to fight the endless war on corruption.
The 2015 Thabo Mbeki’s Report revealed that about $50 billion is lost through illicit flows out of the continent annually. Corruption in Africa is increasing despite anti-corruption campaigns by individuals, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and religious bodies. Even though African leaders are aware of the corruption menace, attitude towards the fight and management is induced by politics and the reluctance to enforce the anti-corruption legal frameworks of member countries. These same leaders make up AU and the hope to tackling corruption is far from right and minging. What role has the AU played since the implementation of the AU Convention on Combating Corruption and within these 5 months from January – May 2018? If the same leaders that make up the AU are corrupt, then the fight against corruption has no future.
Peter Bismark Kwofie, President/Institute for Liberty and Policy Innovation (ILAPI-Ghana); Director of Programs/Centre for Better Society Advocacy and Research Africa (CEBSAR-Africa).