By Nevson Mpofu
Harare—-Corruption continues to prevail despite efforts by several African Governments to come up with Legislation, stringent policies and holistic strategies on stamping it. Africa has the highest number of countries muddled in corrupt activities. Corruption is in two types, grand, of high rankings and petty corruption of low rankings.
A Kenyan Legal Expert Honourable. Dr Otiende Amollo a Legislator, Ombudsman Emeritus, Kenya is currently in Zimbabwe. He is attending a Legal Resources Foundation Human Rights conference titled, enhancing Human Rights and access to Justice in Zimbabwe and Africa. In a two day emotional symposium, He stressed that corruption drives poverty. To extremes it derails Human Rights and degrades the environment. To the worst of everything, it derails development and impedes Government and private sector growth and development.
‘’It is pathetic that corruption still lives in Africa despite legal framework by several Governments of Africa.. African countries are still muddled in sheer poverty because they are derailed efforts by corruption. Where there is corruption, Human Rights are infringed, abused massively.
‘’Let us note that impunity is bred in situations where Human Rights are not fairly exercised. In circumstances where corruption takes centre stage as the story is told in Africa, Human Rights are trodden under the six feet of the country tunnel.
‘’Africa’s most constraint burden reducing economic growth and development, causing extreme poverty is corruption. Africa needs to under- go a screening exercise to eliminate those who do corruption. They make others suffer. They contribute to economic melt-down.
‘’The kind of corruption is worst at its definition. This is Grand corruption which derails Human Rights, derails growth and development. It also impedes private sector development. As long as there is corruption, African countries will get it difficult to achieve on the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations which targets 2030 to reduce extreme poverty, and hunger, achieve Universal Primary Education and gender equality. .
DR Amollo pointed out that corruption has over past decades caused Human Rights violations. This he said, is evidenced by poverty that has been raised from the ground by violation of human rights in Africa, ‘
‘’Corruption is the cause of Human Rights violations which have made Africa become exposed to extreme Absolute poverty. This poverty still lives, but we need to come up with measures meant to eradicate it.
‘’It is sad to note that corruption continues to cause poverty and vulnerability of African children who are the leaders tomorrow. Research concludes, countries with high corruption have high rates of poverty prevalence, lack of Human Rights and poor Governance.
The Legal Expert also pointed that according to the 2014 Corruption Perception Index out of 173 countries ranked at bottom are Somalia, Sudan, and North Korea. He noted that these countries continue to have high rates of Human Rights violations. These abuses of People’s rights culminates in extreme poverty and vulnerability to orphans and disadvantaged people who fail to access Legal Rights resources because of lack of money and low education.
DR Amollo revealed the Goldenberg scandal, the worst corruption which rocked Kenya between 1990 and 1999. It was about smuggled gold from Congo. The Exporters were paid in Kenyan shillings. This had over 35% of foreign currency earning. It cost 10% of Annual Gross Domestic Product. Since then it has come up with the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission of 2012. Later it came with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
Zimbabwe since the early 1980s has been rocked by massive grand corruption by politicians who got protection from Robert Mugabe. Some of them were ill-treated and killed when they attempted to bare all. A good example is of the Willow vale Motor scandal of 1989 which led to Maurice Nyagumbos suicide. The country had exported a big fleet of Japanese Toyota Cressida type of cars to Ghana. The story is still told in the Zimbabwean history. It brought a number of challenges in terms of Gross Domestic Product. Those are some of the Zimbabwean economic challenges with impacts socially and politically on the lives of people pinned in poverty and vulnerability
Giving a key note address Justice Charles Mkandawire , President of the Commonwealth Judges and Magistrate Association and Judge of the High Court of Malawi said the major challenge which impedes development in Africa is that despite some laws enshrined in International protocols and national constitutions , corruption continues to disadvantage majority of Africans .
He said these at last are plunged into muddled conditions of poverty. At last these communities fail to access basic needs because of lack of finance , education and less legal resources at their disposal .Those who engage in grand corruption in decision making positions creates a situation where-by Human Rights are violated at the expense of humanity , well-being and proper administration at Governance levels .
‘’Corruption circumvents wheels of Justice Delivery and the rule of Law. This is the path to Human Rights violated to certain extents which disadvantages the communities at peace. Those whose human rights are violated have no access to Justice because of the poverty created by grand corruption in high offices.
‘’The challenges lies with countries in Africa where those in high rankings if involved in corruption look for legal representation against cases they create. The defence on their side leaves them scot free. The legal battle between the poor affected and the rich of high rankings fails on the side of the poor.
‘’No-wonder why the poor emulates this corruption at their low level causing petty corruption. Most of these cases take long to discover. Even if they get discovered sometimes evidence related to such cases is not found. At most, such cases go undiscovered and unearthed out, this leading to more corruption.
Muchaneta Mundopa Executive Director of Transparency International said although there are International protocols and national laws to combat corruption, many countries are immensely embedded in endless corruption. Some of these International protocols are the United Nations Convention against Transactional Organised Crime [UNCATOC] of the year 2000 which has got 159 Member states. The other one is the Anti-Bribery Convention and the African Union Convention on Protection and combating Crime and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights of 2003.
‘’There are a number of treaties signed by member states which must be followed in terms of their procedures and measures but the challenge still prevails in Africa . Yes, corruption is also a thorny issue in some other countries, but Africa remains the home of massive corruption by people of high rankings. This leads to several violations of human and people’s rights which still need to be addressed.
‘’Civil Society is much worried by these practices which remain unaddressed. The main issue is that, Africa has the history of liberation struggle which gives immunity to some people like leaders who commit such crimes. Although this is lowering down slowly in Africa, the rate of corruption continues to because of abuse of power by politicians and those who follow them. In some instances, corruption rises because of poverty in many communities ‘’
Transparency International Director further cleared the air by urging countries to follow International protocols. She also said constitutions of various countries must spell out on the really definition of corruption by coming up with national laws and policies which do not favour or give immunity to Leaders.
Strengthening measures to prevent corruption, experts suggests need the voices of the people in their constitutions. The need for International co-operation, working together and collective action promotes integrity, dignity and transparency.