By Paul Ndiho
Sub-Saharan Africa continues to appear at the bottom of Transparency International’s corruption perception index – which tracks corruption in 180 countries. This year, during the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, several African leaders took the fight against corruption to the world body.
Tackling corruption remains an uphill battle for most of Africa’s countries. Transparency International, a leading global watchdog on corruption, says African nations are performing very poorly as a whole, even though some of the continent’s leaders are leading the fight against corruption.
For example, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari has taken steps to fight corruption, but still, it remains rampant under his leadership. Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Buhari called for greater cooperation between African countries to fight corruption on the continent — and to fight the illicit flow of funds across international boundaries.
“The fight against corruption, therefore, involves us all. It is in our collective interest to cooperate in tracking illicit financial flows, investigate and prosecute corrupt individuals and entities and repatriate such funds to their countries of origin.”
In Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta is cracking the whip on corruption, but critics say he has been slow to pursue top government officials, until recently when he asked all civil servants, public procurement and accounting officers to undergo a lifestyle audit. Now, President Kenyatta has taken his fight to the United Nations, saying leadership at global institutions are the major contributors to corruption and impunity.
“Governments and the international system must address the broadening deficits in fairness and inclusivity. International organizations, which continue to demand good governance and accountability, must lead by example. And agencies should do so by taking necessary measures to combat the unnecessary evil for national governments to succeed in combating corruption.”
Angolan President, Joao Lourenco, has taken on corruption more directly than any of the country’s previous administrations. Most notably, with the arrest of, Jose Filomeno, the son of former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos over the illegal transfer of 500 million dollars from state funds to a holding account in Britain. Jose Filomeno is being detained on allegations of money-laundering, embezzlement, and fraud.
High-level corruption scandals have also tainted the administration of Edgar Lungu of Zambia. The president fired a senior minister after the British government suspended aid payments to the country amid allegations of corruption of up to $4.7m (£3.5m) in aid payments that may have been embezzled. Finland, Sweden, and Ireland have also suspended aid to Zambia, pending the outcome of the far-reaching investigation.
In Southern Africa, Emmerson Mnangagwa, the new president of Zimbabwe, speaking to a diaspora audience in New York City vowed to fight corruption.
“We’re going to fight corruption period.”
In Liberia, containers full of newly minted currency worth more than $100 million have gone missing. The cash is said to have been shipped from Sweden late last year, in the midst of Liberia’s elections to choose a successor to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The disappearance has caused public outrage in a nation that has long been dogged by corruption scandals.
South Sudan remains at the bottom of the corruption perception index. Corrupt South Sudanese officials are allegedly taking illicit funds derived from the four-and-a-half-year civil war. A report released by the U.S. – based Enough Project last year indicated that several South Sudanese leaders had invested ill-gotten wealth in neighboring countries.