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Thursday, May 3, 2018


African leaders: Are they inspired into politics by corruption?

“We will end absolute poverty and establish justice for all”- African leaders

On September 25, 2015, African leaders assembled at the UN in New York, together, made a historic statement in approving seventeen key objectives to focus actions across the globe, but especially Africa, to bring the core strengths of our civilization to its real potential.

The UN General Assembly adopted new global goals, the 'Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)' as the drivers of policies programmes, and projects for national and multilateral institutions of government in 2030.

The goals embrace were to end absolute poverty, securing the rights of women, protecting the environment, and establishing justice for all. And hopefully, African leaders are aware of what they agreed upon.

For the first time, the overwhelming majority of the world’s leaders have publicly recognized that the crucial objectives of attaining sustainable development in all its manifestations are not possible without explicitly acting against corruption, this is stressed in the 16th of the SDGs.

As we read through the official UN statements, we look back to many stories we have published on our blog 'Secrets of Aids and Ebola facts Journal' about corruption in Africa. 

As we recall several years ago in a speech by the former Nigerian finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, where she spoke about Rose, a 21-year-old university student in her country. Her statement concerns a lot of female students throughout Africa.

Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

According to Rose, from a poor rural family, could not purchase the series of class notes sold by her lecturer to students as part of the reading material for her class. When she explained that she couldn’t pay she was asked to make up with other favors, sex, which she refused.

The failing grade she was given was instrumental in her withdrawal from the university which put an end to her higher education. An individual and an entire family lost their hope and pathway to escape poverty. This is, of course, a disgrace for human mankind and criminal behavior from those Rose should rely upon.

This particular story embodies so much what is wrong in Africa and far beyond simple statements the SDGs seek to address the plight of the very poor, the discrimination against women, the obstacles to education for girls, and the absolute lack of justice available to so many people. 

The impunity that too many people in power enjoy that enables them to pursue corrupt activities for their personal gain. Africa is and stays another continent with his own laws, behavior, and corruption.

There are tens of millions of young African people like Rose

The crimes of corruption are not abstract issues. Every time an African official steals from the public purse, then someone suffers. Every time an African official acts as a villain, then there is a victim. 

There are tens of millions of young African people like Rose who are victims. They are the victims of extortion. They have been cheated of their rights. They and their families, through no fault of their own, have had their lives wrecked by African officials who care only about enriching themselves and should be in prison.

The United nations SDGs did not just happen. Civil society groups of all kinds and from many nations campaigned tirelessly over the last couple of years to ensure that their issues found their place in this document. 

When it comes to goal sixteen on Justice, Transparency International was among those at the forefront in explaining that without a far greater international effort to end impunity and curb corruption, none of the other goals on the SDG list can be attained.

Goal 16 reads: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

One of the key targets incorporated under Goal 16 reads: “Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all its forms.”

Over the past twenty years, a series of regional and global conventions have been agreed that pledge governments act against corruption. The activity culminated in 2004 when the UN Convention Against Corruption was finalized. 

These have been important actions, yet each has tended to see corruption fighting as an end in itself and not as a crucial key to efforts to end absolute poverty, to counter climate change and environmental destruction, to reduce violence and to strengthen the cause of peace.

In Africa, without vigilant anti-corruption actions, for example, the 'Universal Declaration on Human Rights' will remain hollow in many African countries, just as the democracy will remain an illusion for millions of  Africans. Most African politicians are corrupt and some will stay corrupt forever.

By entwining anti-corruption and the quest for justice within its very fabric, the SDGs can represent the realization of the hopes of all good people. The SDGs amount to a vision of a far better, more human, world where people everywhere can live in dignity.

The coming into force of the SDGs will test whether African leaders mean to ensure that the goals are more than mere words on a declaration. 

For civil society organizations like Transparency International, the SDGs offer an enormous opportunity to hold the feet of the African leaders to the fire, to consistently and publicly remind them of their pledges and to demand actions on a scale and with an impact that builds a better world. 

Of course, we will remind them on our blog 'Secrets of Aids and Ebola Facts Journal,' because corruption directly interferes in healthcare services.

Corruption in the health sector

Corruption in the African health sector can mean the difference between life and death. Poor people are worst affected. Medical staff can charge unofficial fees to attend to patients. 

They may demand bribes for medication which should be free. Or they may let patients who bribe them queue-jump. Corruption also costs lives when fake or adulterated medications are sold to health services.

Without proper checks from regulators, public health funds can easily disappear. World Bank surveys show that in some African countries, up to 80 percent of non-salary health funds never reach local facilities. 

Ministers and hospital administrators can siphon millions of dollars from health budgets or accept bribes. This distorts policy and denies people hospitals, medicines, and qualified staff. Stolen funds also hamper efforts to beat major health challenges, such as malaria and HIV/AIDS.

African Governments need to publish detailed health budgets and financial information that’s easy to understand. Then we can track funds and prevent them from being stolen. 

Health workers need adequate pay and guarantees that salaries will reach them. This makes them less susceptible to bribes or likely to demand them. Governments need to tackle counterfeit drugs at the source. 

Africa's definition of poverty in images

Africa's definition of poverty in images

This means cooperation between countries, involving customs, suppliers, medical institutions and the police. At the local level, we all have an important role to play.

We must demand accountability from health professionals and administrators. We can scrutinize clinic or hospital budgets or make sure we’re aware of official charges for services so that we and others don’t pay more. We must also demand public consultations over health services. 

These allow us to participate actively in planning and implementation. Open tender systems and clear procurement processes are also needed. By monitoring these, we can help ensure that African health facilities give us the best possible care to the poor rural family. 

Poverty alleviation in Africa should have been a successful project no matter how long it takes since the continent has the resources which can generate the funds but corruption is the main issue. Every African leader promises to fight corruption but as soon as they are elected those promises become empty.

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