Press statement to commemorate the African Union convention on preventing and combating corruption
11 July 2023
THEME: 20 YEARS AFTER: ACHIEVEMENTS AND PROSPECTS
The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) is pleased to join the Africa Union (AU) and its esteemed governments, as well as other stakeholders, to commemorate this year's AU Anti-Corruption Day under the theme: "20 Years After: Achievements and Prospects". This theme provides a unique opportunity for deep and genuine reflection on the journey in the fight against corruption in the continent over the last two decades.
Adopted 20 years ago in Maputo, Mozambique, on 11 July 2003, the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC) – which came into force in August 2006 - was conceived as a watershed multilateral instrument to pave the way for African governments to chart a strategic and coordinated approach to combating the menace of corruption and its effect on development, good governance and the rule of law. CDD commends the 48 African countries that have signed and ratified the AUCPCC and that have worked to transpose its salient provisions into domestic legislation. The Centre urges the remaining seven countries - Central African Republic, Cape Verde, Djibouti, Eritrea, Eswatini, Somalia, and South Sudan – to follow suit.
As African governments reflect on the gains and progress recorded since 2003, it is important to also focus on some of the aspirations of Agenda 2063, a flexible living document and rolling plan adopted by the African states as a shared framework for inclusive growth and sustainable development for Africa. Aspirations three, four and seven focus on good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law; a peaceful and secure Africa; and Africa as a strong, united, resilient and influential global player and partner. These aspirations are consistent with Article Three of the AUCPCC, which enjoins state parties to undertake to abide by democratic principles, the rule of law, respect for human rights, transparency and accountability and condemnation and rejection of acts of corruption, impunity and related offences.
Tackling corruption, with its debilitating impact on economic, social and political development, requires the building of strong and capable institutions that will deepen democratic values and justice, support gender equality and improve peace, security and the rule of law. Such institutions include the establishment of reputable anti-corruption agencies, such as the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Council on Probity, Prevention and Fight against Corruption in Morocco, Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime in Botswana, The Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles (ACCS) etc, vested with the power to prevent, recover and prosecute anti-corruption cases in Nigeria. These institutions have successfully recovered stolen assets in Nigeria, from both within and from the diaspora
Effectively combating corruption can significantly help to reduce fiscal wastage and also facilitate the detection, tracking and recovery of illicit financial flows which continue to rob the continent's needed resources for development. According to the UNCTAD's Economic Development in Africa Report 2020, every year, an estimated $88.6 billion, equivalent to 3.7% of Africa's GDP, leaves the continent as illicit capital flight. A significant chunk of this figure is a result of corruption.
It is, therefore, necessary and urgent for African states to, individually and collectively, halt the financial haemorrhage and engage in bilateral and multilateral arrangements to recover illicit assets taken from the continent. This will require African states to persistently push, using all available international cooperation arrangements, on a global stage while also ensuring that their domestic anti-corruption authorities initiate steps to track, trace and freeze these assets in countries where they have been deposited. Nigeria has, for example, made considerable progress in tracking and recovering stolen assets through improved international cooperation.
CDD, therefore, encourages anti-corruption agencies across the continent to up the ante on illicit asset recovery as there is still much more, domestically and internationally, to be traced and recovered. It also reaffirms its commitment to supporting efforts to curb systemic corruption that occurs in the form of bribery, political embezzlement, theft and fraud, gratifications, extortion and blackmail, abuse of office, favouritism, nepotism and clientelism. Practices that deprive many Africans of their right to basic services such as health, education, housing, clean water and sanitation facilities.
The CDD congratulate AU member states and stakeholders on the progress made in the last 20 years. However, there is still so much work to be done. Fighting corruption requires consistent and sustained work on various fronts and adopting innovative strategies to meet the ever-expanding corruption typologies and taxonomies. The dangers of relapsing or losing the gains made are high if states do not work concertedly and persistently to sustain the fight. "The Africa we want" can only be achieved through the diligent implementation of the provisions of the AUCPCC and state parties renewing their unalloyed commitments to it.
To this end, the African Union Advisory Board Against Corruption (AUABC), charged with the responsibility of dealing with corruption and implementation measures and strategies under the Convention on the continent, is urged to intensify its awareness and visibility programs and push state parties to strengthen implementation and adoption of effective strategies against corruption. States are encouraged to cooperate fully with AUABC and interface and cooperate operationally with member states to share best practices.
The fight against corruption is complicated. The laudable objectives of the Convention, the aspirations of Agenda 2063 and the objectives of the AU Constitutive Act will remain illusory unless states collectively renew their commitments against corruption not only in words but in action.
With dedicated focus, strong political will and effective cooperation between and amongst African states, corruption can be better contained. CDD hereby commits to remain a dedicated partner and stakeholder in efforts to suppress corruption in Africa.
Thank you all.
Director, Centre for Democracy and Development