Despite having fully functional anti-corruption and anti-money laundering laws and institutions, public money in African countries, including Malawi, continue to be plundered, an expert has said.
Touria Prayag, editor-in-chief for Mauritius’s Weekly Newspaper, said this on Monday during the official opening of a workshop on Reporting Corruption Through Investigative Journalism organised by the African Union (AU), Southern Africa Office in Johannesburg, South Africa.
He said institutional setup to ensure checks and balances that are in place have been perverted through dubious nominations of family members and cronies whose main task is to ensure that those who are in power and their protégés in the private sector are never guilty of any act of corruption.
He said: “In most African countries today, there are anti-corruption watchdogs to catch corrupt individuals. Why then, are all these money guzzlers that are costing the taxpayers obscene amounts of money not being caught?
“If the institutions are there and doing their work they are paid to do, why is it that those engaged in these malpractices are getting away with murder, literally?”
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca) director for southern Region Said Adejumobi said corruption has devastating effects on the continent’s economy, politics, society, growth and development.
“Corruption often devalues people, society and institutions,” he said.
Adejumobi said corruption has been the bane of Africa’s economic growth, creating serious economic leakages, misallocation and squandering of scarce financial resources, undermining State capacity and efficiency, facilitating the poor delivery of social services, promoting mediocrity and cronyism.
AU regional delegate to southern Africa Leopold Ngomo said while recognising the negative impact corruption is having on the continent, the media has a role to play by bringing to light corruption cases through investigative reporting.
Figures from Uneca indicate that $148 billion (about K108 trillion) is siphoned out of the continent through various corrupt activities and the acts represent about 25 percent of Africa’s average gross domestic product (GDP).
On the other hand, between $50 billion (about K36 trillion) and $80 billion (about K59 trillion) is lost in a year due to illicit financial flows, according to the Global Financial Integrity (GFI).
GFI says more money flows illegaly out of developing and emerging countries each year—facilitated by secrecy in the global financial system—than they receive in foreign direct investment and foreign aid combined.
It says beyond bleeding the world’s poorest economies, particularly in Africa, this propels crime, corruption and tax evasion globally. n