We just finished a long day of conferencing in South Africa. OSISA – the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, which is currently supporting a series of IPPR anti-corruption publications – held this conference to launch their publication on the question asked in the title of this post.
So what did they find?
Across the region, anti-corruption bodies face similar challenges. Often, the laws in a country are rather good, so the legal framework is there. But in practice, the bodies often struggle for resources: money is short, and there aren’t enough qualified people to do the necessary work. Political interference is also an issue.
Countries should create more transparent system, and find better ways of appointing heads of agencies to make sure they are independent. But often, more can also be done on the “demand side” – how much pressure are citizens really putting on politicians?
the full report, including a chapter on Namibia, can be found here.
Today we are launching the Anticorruption Agencies in Southern Africa Report, join us for the discussion. #corruption @OSISA pic.twitter.com/50bVm2Cp12
— Lusako Munyenyembe (@LusakoLM) March 22, 2017
Over a whole day of discussions, experts on corruption, heads of anti-corruption agencies as well as MPs from the region discussed a variety of issues around corruption. A few tweets from attendants will give you some insight.
The keynote speech addressed illicit financial flows, a current hot topic in anti-corruption activism.
#Corruption @OSISA @BarristerAkereMuna says Africa has lost US$50billion in illicit financial flows
— 'Ntata 'Mantsali le Kopano (@BillyNtaote) March 22, 2017
Meanwhile, MPs reminded participants of the limits of political will to provide oversight over public accounts:
Oversight is a political function – essentially politicians providing oversight over themselves says Hon Themba Godi #CORRUPTION @OSISA
— Roshnee (@RoshneeNarrande) March 22, 2017
Another take-away: according to one participant, more African states had ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption than Africa’s own convention on the topic.
Most African states have signed the UN convention to combat corruption but reluctant to sign their own instrument. @OSISA pic.twitter.com/JY996T1rkG
— masego madzwamuse (@nangabe) March 22, 2017
One recurring theme: many participants agreed with the recommendation that more needs to be done from civil society and citizens to push government. One speaker said politicians would never fully dedicate themselves to fight corruption, as “fighting corruption is like asking the fish to fry themselves.”
So it’s on all of us to push for better governance. We have a range of publications grappling with the question of how to best curb corruption, and will keep doing this work.