African Anti-Corruption Day: Why we must intensify fight against corruption

In this, everyone has a role and stands to benefit from its success.

Delegates follow proceedings during the commemoration of Africa Anti-Corruption Day on July 11, 2023, in Nairobi. The fight against corruption is the antidote to Africa's suffering and a pathway to development. PHOTO/EACC.
  • Africa’s economic development is hampered by corruption, which also significantly impedes the realization of effective governments and fundamental freedoms.
  • Engaging dialogues explored topics such as strengthening legal frameworks, enhancing asset recovery mechanisms, promoting citizen engagement, and fostering international collaboration.
  • In Africa, corruption is a sickness that endangers democracy.

Stakeholders from all over the continent came together on July 11 to mark Africa Anti-Corruption Day, coined in Kenya as People’s Anti-Corruption Summit, at Ufungamano House, Nairobi in a powerful display of their shared commitment. 

“The idea is that on July 11 every year, concerned Africans pause to reflect on anti-corruption progress in their communities, what is working, what is not, and what remains to be tried,” says African Union.

This year’s focus for the commemoration was on The African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, 20 Years After: Achievements and Prospects

It prompted thoughts on the developments marked to date.

Kenya has made great progress in combating corruption. 

It was the first country to ratify the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC) in 2007 and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, adopted in July 2003. 

All of these actions were significant reflections on Kenya’s history, challenges, and accomplishments.

Think tanks

Government officials, representatives of civil society, legal professionals, and members of the international community were among the well-known people and groups present at the event. 

Multi-stakeholders were brought together under the auspices of Transparency International, including the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, African Union, Kenya Leadership Integrity Forum, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and The University of Nairobi Law Faculty. 

The fact that they are all present together highlights the rising understanding that the social, political, and economic success of Africa depends on eliminating corruption.

A costly affair

According to the African Union, corruption costs African economies $148 billion annually. 

The common commercial approaches to combating the epidemic of corruption on the continent have largely failed. 

However, transparency remains a cure-all. 

The lowest score in the world, 33 out of 100, is recorded from Sub-Saharan Africa in Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). 

Africa’s economic development is hampered by corruption, which also significantly impedes the realization of effective governments and fundamental freedoms.

The event marked progress in the ongoing fight against corruption and the catastrophic effects it has on African societies. 

The effects of corruption on development, justice, and trust are adverse and draining. 

This amazing turnout and the fervent discussions on the effects of corruption sharing of practical solutions showed the unwavering commitment to promoting openness, accountability, and good governance throughout Africa.

Enforcement action low

Opening the ceremony, the keynote speaker Sheila Masinde, who is the Executive Director of Transparency International Kenya, highlighted the significance of Africa Anti-corruption Day as a platform for collective action and increased awareness.

Ms. Masinde emphasized the need for concerted efforts to confront corruption, with more worries on high-profile corruption cases stating, “Kenya has managed to put in place relevant legislative and institutional anti-corruption frameworks majorly from the 2010 constitution. 

Sheila Masinde, Executive Director, Transparency International Kenya. PHOTO/Courtesy.

Enforcement action, especially in successfully prosecuting high-profile corruption cases, has, however, remained low”.

Various panel discussions, workshops, and interactive sessions focused on key aspects of combating corruption and advancing good governance practices in Africa. 

Engaging dialogues explored topics such as strengthening legal frameworks, enhancing asset recovery mechanisms, promoting citizen engagement, and fostering international collaboration.

“As the Kenyan chapter of the African Parliamentaries Network Against Corruption, we are committed to making Kenya better by promoting and supporting anti-corruption bills in parliament,” Member of Parliament for Nandi Hills, Bernad Kibor, commented in his address.

Support the cause

Kenyans should support anti-corruption activities now rather than continually waiting for leaders and groups to speak out. 

Member of Parliament for Nandi Hills, Bernad Kibor. PHOTO/Courtesy.

Some incidents can be readily stopped by reporting them to relevant authorities and ceasing the behavior. 

The summit gave the audience a crystal-clear image of how a whistle-blower cannot blow the whistle without protection from retaliation, which many people claim to fear more than anything else.

Dr. Monica Muiru, Deputy Chairperson of Kenya’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), was one of the notable guests and discussed the progress the country has made against corruption. 

Dr. Muiru emphasized the government of Kenya’s commitment to fostering transparency and informed the delegates of the country’s anti-corruption efforts and implementations.

Dr. Monica Muiru, EACC Deputy Chairperson, delivering her speech. PHOTO/Courtesy.

EACC has established 11 regional offices and service desks in more than 50 Huduma centers across the nation to provide support to people and provide forums for reporting suspicions of misappropriation of public funds and other forms of corruption.

“I urge us to embrace positive value systems. Our moral fabric as a society is being eroded daily by greed, immorality, and dishonesty, among others. 

There is need for all, including the youth, to entrench a culture of personal social accountability,” Dr. Muiru remarked regarding public participation in corruption eradication.

The debates featured robust participation from civil society organizations, highlighting these groups’ critical role in holding governments responsible. 

Representatives from organizations such as Pawa 254, Mzalendo, the Kenya Human Rights Commission, the Kenya Law Reform Commission, and the Institute of Public Finance, all stressed the significance of empowering and rallying the populace to demand accountability and transparency from their leaders. 

More strategies

Campaigns at the local level, like community-led monitoring and reporting programs, were cited as successful ways to increase civic engagement and fight corruption.

“Budgeted corruption is raising the cost of business in Kenya. The poor are the most affected. We must now work to stop corruption in Kenya,” James Muraguri, CEO and Founder of Institute of Public Finance (IPF) Global, commented. 

It is true that indeed Kenya’s development will skyrocket with success from the fight against corruption war.

Students are also urged to acquire academic skills along with a thorough understanding of the moral standards that underpin a society free from corruption. 

Some educational institutions are advised to strongly emphasize incorporating anti-corruption education into their curricula.

The urge for cooperation between anti-corruption organizations, civil society groups, and international partners was also evident during the event. 

Knowledge exchange, capacity building, and technical assistance can all be strengthened through these collaborations to construct a stronger network of support for anti-corruption initiatives across the continent.

“The European Union is deeply committed to the fight against corruption, and sees the crucial importance of regional conventions such as the AUCAC to hold governments accountable and to give them the tools to effectively eradicate corruption,” Henriette Geiger, Ambassador of the European Union in Kenya, said.

The pervasive and complicated issue of corruption hampers the continent’s economic, political, and social progress.

Henriette Geiger, Ambassador of the European Union in Kenya. PHOTO/Courtesy.

Numerous reasons, including greed, poverty, and poor governance, are to blame. 

Basic liberties like accountability and freedom of speech are also hindered by corruption. 

Tackling it head-on

Although there has been discussion about corruption in Africa for decades, it still exists as a result of the inconsistency and hypocrisy of the political leaders and entities who profit from it. 

In Africa, corruption is a sickness that endangers democracy.

As the event drew to a close, participants expressed their renewed commitment to the principles upheld by Africa Anti-Corruption Day. 

Their shared vision of a corruption-free Africa, where transparency, integrity and accountability reign, serves as a powerful inspiration for ongoing anti-corruption endeavors.

“Corruption is theft, and the only remedy for corruption in this country is the rule of law. Saying no to corruption and embracing high regard for the rule of law are the game changers,” Busia Senator, Okiya Omtatah, commented.

Okiya Omtatah. PHOTO/Courtesy.

The fight against corruption is not a one-day event; it calls for sustained commitment and action from all sectors of the society. 

The Africa Anti-Corruption Day at Ufungamano House became an emblematic testimony to the indomitable spirit of Africans in combating corruption. 

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On this day, celebrations held in different African countries united the continent in readiness to confront this pervasive menace head-on and be determined to build a brighter future for generations to come.

YOU CAN ALSO READ: The Butterfly Effect: Understanding corruption in Africa

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Ms. Loise is a Communication Specialist with a bachelor's degree in Publishing and Media Science from Moi University, Kenya. She is a dedicated web developer and a climate change and environment writer. She also owns diverse skills in social media marketing. Her contact: loiselenser@gmail.com

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