The African Union (AU) during its 30th Assembly of Heads of State and Government holding from 22 – 29 January 2018 in its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, will launch 2018 as the African Anti-Corruption Year. This follows the declaration made at the 29th Assembly of the Heads of State and Government in January 2017. The upcoming Summit of the AU will be held under the theme: “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”.
Under the leadership of the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption (AUABC), the African Union, its organs, Member States, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Civil Society Organizations together with citizens (women, men and young people alike) will embark on a journey to address the urgent need to curb corruption which is a major societal flaw causing setbacks in the socio-economic and political development of the continent. Corruption continues to hamper efforts aimed at promoting democratic governance, socio-economic transformation, peace and security, and the enjoyment of human rights in the AU Member States.
While the continent has seen sustained socio-economic growth over the past two decades, public confidence has been corroded by a concentration on near-term priorities and payoffs, propelled by corruption, election-cycle politics or quarterly results targets that too often leave young people worse off than their parents. Rather than looking towards a sustainable future that works for everyone, many have been left with a sense of desperation about the ideals of progress, technology, trade, and globalization because of the prominence and inequality fostered by corruption.
AU Member States, together with the RECs and the African Union, have adopted various commendable regulatory instruments and established different institutions to combat corruption in Africa, most notably the AU Convention on Preventing and Combatting Corruption (AUCPCC), adopted in 2003.
The African Union has also adopted other instruments aimed at fostering a culture of democracy and ensure good governance and the rule of law, which complement the AUCPCC, namely:
- African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance: adopted on January 30, 2007- Article 2 (9);
- African Charter on the Values and Principles of Public Service and Administration: adopted on January 31, 2011- Article 12; and
- African Charter on the Values and Principles of Decentralization, Local Governance and Local Development: adopted on June 27, 2014; Article 14.
Article 4(m) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union and Aspiration 3 of the Continental Agenda 2063 (An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law) clearly illustrate the firm commitment of African leaders to entrench a culture of the rule of law and good governance. Importantly, Agenda 2063 recognizes good goverance as one of the necessary pre-conditions for a prosperous and peaceful agenda. However, if corruption is not dealt with as a matter of priority in Africa, the Agenda 2063 and its first ten years action plan, the 2030 global plan for sustainable development, and the Vision 2020 on silencing the Guns may not yield the expected results.
The challenge however remains commitment to institutional approaches to combating corruption and other governance challenges on one hand and bridging the gap between norm-setting and norm-implementation through appropriate measures at local, national, regional and continental levels on the other hand.
Fifteen (15) years after the adoption of the AUCPCC, the declaring of 2018 as the Anti-Corruption Year and its subsequent launch provides a good opportunity to take stock on progress made so far, assess what still needs to be done and devise new strategies that appropriately address new corruption challenges.