The 9th International Anti-Corruption Conference
Regional Integrity 2000 and Beyond:
Corruption has broadly been defined as the abuse of public power for private gain. It involves a monopoly of resources and the abuse of discretion.
Within the (African) region, the definition of corruption has remained elusive. Culture and pervasive practices within society make the word abuse in the definition difficult to narrow down. The initial burden one needs to overcome is the substantial acceptance of corrupt practices because of a failure to grasp the concept of corruption. There is a limited interpretation, which is inhabiting progress.
The manifestations of grand corruption are undisputed but the petty corruption is largely accepted. Buying an official a chicken in return for a free government service is regarded as normalcy. A chicken may well be a small price but the practice has substantial ramifications for the moral fibre of our societies.
The concepts of transparency, accountability and integrity are not fully understood nor respected by the governments of the region. The application in the modern societies is difficult to configure where there is misguidedness and a refusal to accept transparency, accountability and integrity.
The Will to Change
Southern Africa is beginning to accept that corruption is on the increase in the region. The negative effects of corruption are becoming visible and there is a growing realisation of the need to curb corruption.
Political will is on the rise and more states within the region are progressing towards a more concerted effort to stop corruption. Governments are starting to make progressive steps to counter corruption.
Conferences within the region are placing the problem of corruption high on the agenda. The media has targeted corruption as a major issue and as a result, the communities are mobilising for change.
The paradigm for Southern Africa is how to solve the problem. The approach ought to be four-tiered including:
The region is faced with the major task of ensuring that all four- tiers are approached. The failure to draw up a well-constructed programme for the region resulted because of the procrastination of the states. Corruption has developed faster than the systems of democracy, which promote transparency, accountability and integrity. The problem is that corruption is so advanced and the systems to detect and curb corruption are lagging too far behind.
The experiences of Southern Africa show that time is of essence. The region must mobilise with efficiency in order to ensure a fast and efficient method of breaking down corruption.
The task is overwhelming and intimidating but for the sake of the region, it is a task that can not go unchallenged.
2. THE LIMA DECLARATION: PROGRESS SINCE LIMA
The Lima Declaration highlighted the need for a global coalition targeted at the institution of transparency, accountability and integrity. It reinforced the need for the development of formal regulatory frameworks.
The various states have made efforts to ensure that the Lima Declaration is adhered to.
Democratic institutions have been set up which include an Anti- Corruption Bureau and the Ombudsman. The Anti-Corruption Bureau is now fully established with a statutory responsibility to undertake civic education, corruption prevention, investigation them and prosecution of offenders under the Corrupt Practices Act.
Transparency International Malawi has been rejuvenated with the election of a new Executive Board and the appointment of a full time co-ordinator.
The post-Lima South Africa is newly democratic and it is faced with the pervasive corruption it inherited from the apartheid era. The racial and political dynamics of South Africa have had to be analysed and put into context in the fight against corruption. The complex nature of apartheid left much room for corruption to settle in.
The South African Constitution of 1996 entrenched state institutions supporting constitutional democracy. The Public Protector and Auditor General were recognised as independent institutions subject only to the law and constitution and not to any person or organ of state. The need for independence and impartiality was emphasised. Transparency, accountability and integrity are emphasised and the anti-corruption campaign has political support. South Africa has an alarming crime rate, which the Mandela and Mbeki governments have been highly concerned with.
Transparency International - South Africa (TI -SA) is of the opinion that the new government needs to be more vigorous in countering corruption. TI - SA would like a more comprehensive and decisive approach to the matter.
Of concern is the infiltration of big international firms that remain unaccountable to South Africa. The firms do not always pursue ethical practices and it is difficult to detect this.
The Constitution of Zambia Amendment Act, 1996 manifested the political intolerance of and intimidation of citizens. The need for good governance was glaringly obvious and corruption increased rapidly. The economic climate is extremely harsh and this has contributed to the high levels of corruption.
In virtually every sector of Zambian society, there is a demand for greater integrity. The concept of good governance is being propagated and transparency, accountability and integrity must be instilled into the public. Greater public interest in the operations of government has shown the need for transparency.
Zambia's Cabinet disallowed a corruption survey sponsored by the World Bank. This suggests that political will for change is lacking. The Cabinet decision was unilateral and totally disregarded Parliament.
The public has been forced into servile resignation, accepting corruption as a way of life. The activities of government have persuaded the people of Zambia that transparency, accountability and integrity are elusive concepts, unattainable and abnormal.
There is an urgent need in Zambia to begin open and sincere debates on corruption. There must be a redefinition of the terms transparency, accountability and integrity.
Zambia established its Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) early on, but the commission has not been adequately visible in the fight against corruption. The Commission has sufficiently been marred by political interference. The Commission is not independent and this has meant that it has remained ineffective.
TI -Zambia is becoming increasingly visible and effective. This is largely attributed to the fact that the playing field is just beginning to level out.
The country has responded to the Consultative Group meeting and has attempted to introduce legal and institutional changes. The working document is called "Governance: National Capacity Building for Good Governance in Zambia." The paper postulates methods of enhancing public transparency, accountability and integrity in the pursuit of good governance.
"The Integrity Round Table Conference on the State of Corruption in Zambia" was a fundamental step towards institutionalising transparency, accountability and integrity system.
TI - Zambia, since Lima, has attended both formal and informal meetings organised by the government donor community and civil society. TI - Zambia is currently carrying out outreach programmes aimed at raising public awareness against corruption.
TI -Zambia's "National Integrity System Development Programme" is a 3 year plan which seeks to curb corruption and institutionalise transparency, accountability and integrity. The plan is to realise a scientifically determined national integrity.
Botswana's Corruption and Economic Crime Act of 1994 entrenched the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).
The Directorate has resounding governmental support. There is sufficient capacity in terms of resources and manpower to tackle corruption. The government has indicated the necessary political will to curb corruption and it is serious about corruption and wants to ensure that it is eradicated.
The DCEC has the power to investigate allegations on corruption in any public body or individual. The DCEC has the power to investigate any suspicion of contravention of any provisions of the fiscal and revenue laws of the country. The Directorate is also charged with the duty of educating the public on matters of corruption.
The Directorate networks with various organisations to form a coalition against corruption. It is imperative that it does so in order to ensure a broader understanding of the matters pertaining to corruption.
The Act is progressive in that it even stipulates what may be interpreted as a corrupt practice. The list is sufficiently comprehensive but not exhaustive. In time it may be extended to include the failure of a public official to declare his assets.
The Directorate has become exemplary for the other states in the region. It is an encouraging example and a workable solution.
It is quite evident from the Tswana experience that governments in Southern Africa prefer an anti corruption body which remains a governmental organ. The rationale is that the government retains control of the body. This is positive in a sense because it ensures that there is political support of the Directorate's actions and that there is a sufficient wealth of resources available to the anti- corruption body.
However, the Directorate is perhaps too focused on investigative work. There is more emphasis in research and civic awareness. There must be a holistic approach to fighting corruption. NGOs and other civic groups are helpful in this regard and a coalition must be formed.
The independence of the DCEC is however, hanging on a precarious balance and dependent only on the goodwill of the government in power. The DCEC is a statutory body and remains a public office governed by the Public Service Act. The employees remain civil servants and accountable to the Public Service. This may undermine the independence of the Directorate.
Of concern, however, is that the Directorate is not a prosecuting body. It refers matters it has investigated to the office of the Attorney General
The Act stipulates that:
'No prosecution for an offence under Part IV shall be instituted except by or with the written consent of the Attorney General"1
This leaves too much to another body. It may well be that after arrests are made, offenders are not prosecuted. There needs to be a follow up by the DCEC itself.
The inflation rate of Zimbabwe hit a record high of plus or minus 68% in September 1999. The salaries have not been increased sufficiently to cope with the cost of living. There are numerous labour disputes because of the general dissatisfaction. It is becoming difficult for people to survive on their meagre salaries. People are resorting to small initiatives, which often involve corrupt practices. The perception of many is that corruption is a means to an end.
Civil servants are particularly underpaid. Economically, women and children are the worst hit. Women are affected by the 'glass ceiling' phenomenon.
Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) has been frantically trying to form coalitions with the government, civic organisations and other NGOs TIZ has organised various seminars, workshops and conferences. The aim of TIZ is to ensure that the Zimbabwean national integrity system is one of openness, fairness and accountability.
TIZ is increasingly visible and vocal on corruption issues. The pursuit of transparency, accountability and integrity is becoming a collective effort. The government is beginning to demonstrate an eagerness to improve the integrity systems. The private sector is particularly concerned about the high levels of corruption. The public still needs education on corruption but is helpful that the detrimental effects of corruption are becoming all too obvious.
Zimbabwe is in the process of reviewing its constitution. The need for an improvement in transparency, accountability and integrity is most apparent. TIZ wants to see a constitutionally recognised independent Anti-Corruption Commission which fulfils international expectations of transparency, accountability and integrity. The emphasis is on the independence of the Commission. TIZ is working closely with to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) a state institution supporting the fight against corruption.
It is quite evident from looking at the SADC region that major constitutional reform has been the trend in the last six years. This is indicative of a common dissatisfaction with the legal and constitutional frameworks. All but Zambia have embarked on progressive reform campaigns. The shift is towards greater independence, democracy, transparency, accountability and integrity. The opportunity for change is golden and the region must enhance it.
The shift towards transparency is particularly good for the anti- corruption campaign. The option of independent commissions is becoming more and more viable. The emphasis on their independence cannot be over stressed.
The Zimbabwean transition will hopefully shine a new light on anti- corruption campaigns. It is hoped that the new Zimbabwean constitution will usher an anti-corruption commission, which is progressive and effective. It can rely on the good precedents set by Botswana and South Africa. It must be independent and genuinely dedicated to curbing corruption.
It must ensure and promote civic awareness on corruption and insist on the prosecution of offenders. It must be a democratic institution serving the needs of the people.
The Zambian commission needs revision. It needs to pursue the goals for which it was set up. The persecution of civilians by the government is unfortunate. Malawi is progressing steadily. It too needs to create must to expect a totally independent apolitical organ given the totalitarian system it has emerged from, Malawi is moving at its own pace and slowly it will grow into an exemplary body.
3. THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA
The public needs to be aware of the alarming nature and levels of corruption in the interests of transparency, accountability and integrity. The media needs to be informative and educate the public on the ills of corruption. The media should progress a step further and encourage people to stop corrupt practices. The media should promote transparency and account ability by encouraging people to follow correct channels of operation.
The media is a good means of their gaining visibility for anti- corruption coalitions. TI Chapters in the SADC has been trying to increase their visibility through the media. The aim is to ensure public awareness of Transparency International and its efforts in combating corruption.
The gag over the media in Malawi is slowly being removed. Uganda and Tanzania held a series of conferences on investigative journalism. The region is moving towards exposing issues with greater analysis.
The governments of the region generally agree that wide access to information is healthy for democracy and that freedom of the press is a facilitation of the democratic process. Countries need an informed public in order to make informed decisions. However, the point of departure, is that governments of the region value national security. The need for public access to documents is compromised by the need for state security.
The danger of investigative journalism it that is easily lends itself to those who have the most to fear from a forceful press, namely criminals and autocrats. In Zambia, such talk seems to have paved the way for criminal libel laws, which have put courageous journalists in prison.
In Zimbabwe an editor of a newspaper which exposed widespread corruption in government lost his job. Such practices, though in the favour of national security, undermine transparency, accountability and integrity. The dangers of exposing oneself to physical harm as a journalist are high. If it was alleged that a high-ranking official was corrupt, it could cost the discovering journalist life and limb.
Journalists are themselves often offered kick-backs or bribes not to expose corruption themselves and yet they are entrusted with the responsibility of exposing corruption. This is the paradigm with which we are forced. The journalist need to be educated and made more responsible.
The region is not sufficiently aware of TI and its efforts to introduce reform and eradicate corruption. Lack of visibility is a definite problem for the anti-corruption coalition. The public must become aware of the campaign to curb corruption. The media must ensure the public is informed about the true nature of corruption. The TI Chapters in the region must capture the attention of the media.
BEST PRACTICES IN PUBLIC PROCUREMENT
Procurement is of great concern in the region. Procurement should be economical. It should achieve the best quality of goods and services for the price paid. Where possible the lowest price for the accepted goods or services must be balanced against the best quality of goods and services to meet a specific need.
The contracts should be awarded with impartiality. There should be no focus given to particular individuals. Contracts must be awarded by virtue of merit and not because of political or personal motives. All tenders must be given equal consideration in terms of deadlines and requirements.
The process should be totally transparent. The procurement rules and decision-making criteria should be readily accessible to the public. The opening of the bids should be public and not restricted to a select number of individuals.
The documentation should be kept safe and access to the documents must be regulated by policy to prevent loss or manipulation. The procurement process should be efficient and there must be stipulations of time and documentation. Procedures must be simple and fast to reduce bureaucracy. All tenders must be given the requisite care and attention regardless of the value of the contract.
Accountability is essential. The procedure must be systematic and dependable. Records must be maintained and all decisions and actions must be explained and justified. If violations occur it is critical that those responsible be held accountable through strict and consistent disciplinary action.
In Zambia the Cabinet Ministers and other Senior public officials are the defacto Tender Board members. This undermines the integrity of the Tender Board. There is too much political control and it defeats the object of transparency and accountability. The Tender Board is not independent.
In Zimbabwe the new Procurement Act of 1999 is slightly more progressive as it diminishes political control. The Tender Board of Zimbabwe is meant create procurement procedures to another independent body. The independent anti-corruption commission would act as a watchdog.
Money laundering is the manipulation of illegally acquired wealth in order to obscure its true time source or nature. It involves a number of transactions, which conceal the products of illegitimate and criminal activities. Money laundering is corrupt and normally involves highly skilled knowledgeable and professional people.
Money laundering is normally in three stages; namely the placement, layering and integration stages.
Placement Stage: the proceeds of criminal conduct, which are usually in cash form are moved away from the location from which they were obtained and placed in the financial system.
Layering Stage: the money is transferred into electronic funds and distributed through the financial system. The transactions are layered on top of each other and the necessary documentation obscures everything. The laundered money is eventually undistinguished from legitimate money.
Integration Stage: the money is then put in circulation and made available to the criminals. The criminals can invest in legitimate business and the legal and justice systems are left with little or no evidence to prosecute the offenders.
The economic liberalisation programme has made it possible for those engaged in the illicit drug trade to 'cleanse' their proceeds from narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and 'invest' in clean business. Obviously drug lords and drug traffickers have taken advantage of the lack of control to launder their drug money and use the proceeds to set up all kinds of businesses.
Zambia has sought to enact an anti-money-laundering legislation, The Prohibition and prevention of Money Laundering Bill, 1998. The Bill would provide for, among other things:
International co-operation in investigations, prosecution and other legal processes of prohibiting and preventing money laundering; and to provide for matters connected with or incidental to the foregoing.
The Bill, which has gone to Parliament on at least two occasions, was withdrawn from the legislation process during its last session in April 1999. There were no reasons furnished for the withdrawal. No unexplained reasons and has never been brought back.
South Africa enacted the Proceeds of Crime Act which is a progressive effort. It is a sincere effort to curb corruption practices the form of money laundering.
4. GENDER AND CORRUPTIONIf corruption is to be understood as the abuse of power, it must be asked, who has this power? In the Southern African region, the majority of officials are male.
Corruption often involves an exchange of goods or services. The "quid pro quo" differs depending on the resources available to the person seeking the favour. Often, the token is material but often, most people have no capital so they can only offer a service.
Corruption may take a gender bias when males and females interact. Usually the male is the public official and in order to circumvent procedures, the woman normally offers sexual favours. (Often the transaction is discreet). Many have wondered where the corruption in that lies. Like any bribe, sexual favours in exchange for it undermine the system. The power of discretion of the official is manipulated by the token, namely the sexual favour. It must be understood as corrupt in because it undermines the integrity of the administration. It becomes apparent to the public that tendering procedures can be circumvented if the officials are offered sexual favours.
This must be interpreted as corrupt because the male official has abused his power for his own private sexual gain.
Corruption is most often to the prejudice of someone. Often, the woman stands to lose a job, promotion on service if she does not comply. The term 'carpet interviews' is often used in Zimbabwe to describe the corrupt practice of officials who court sexual favours in return for a job. 'Glass ceiling' situations indicate that a woman cannot rise in her profession unless she sacrifices herself in some way. There are high incidents of gender and corruption issues in Southern Africa. The high incident has resulted in acceptance of the practices.
5. STANDARDS FOR GLOBAL INTEGRITY IN THE NEW MILLENIUM
There is a need to adopt co-operative arrangements at the regional and sub-regional levels to provide for the exchange of experiences, ideas and information. Where possible, there ought to be a harmonisation legislative frameworks in the region. Countries should assist each other in obtaining evidence once cross-border corruption has spilt into their territories.
There ought to be a network of anti-corruption institutions to ensure that countries are kept informed about corruption in all its pervasive forms. The SADC Protocol on Anti-Corruption is a good starting point to facilitate dialogue.
Where there are no public international law limitations, there should be reciprocal obligations for the extradition of those accused or convicted of corruption offences. This would help in the prosecution of offenders because it is of essence that offenders are punished as a form of deterrence. In turn there should be a harmonisation of sentences to ensure consistency.
There must be a method of implementing mechanisms to monitor these principles. There should be initial reporting and evaluation procedures.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recommendation of 1994, asked member states to take a series of specific steps to deter, prevent and combat the bribery of foreign public officials in connection with international business transactions2 , should also be globalised.
While the response of the major industrial and exporting countries to this initiative will be important as the base for any action, the response from smaller national economies in the south is also crucial. Without a strong matching response from countries where the negative impact of transnational bribery is clearly significant, the impact of the OECD initiative can only be modest.
6. DISCLOSURE OF ASSETS BY PUBLIC SERVANTS AND POLITICIANS
Good governance demands high standards of personal integrity and discipline of public officers, in particular Members of Parliament (MPs), Ministers and Deputy Ministers in the discharge of official duties.
It is imperative that the public be aware of the income of public officials and politicians. There must be registry of assets which is regularly filled in and an Independent Anti-Corruption Commission ought to have the power to monitor these assets. The Commission should enforce this as a matter of policy and procedure.
The politicians cannot rely on the fact that it is a violation of human rights because the limitation is necessary and reasonably justifiable in an open and democratic nation. The aim is to institutionalise transparency, accountability and integrity. Constitutions or statutes must entrench this provision to give the Commission this unlimited power.
The Zambian, Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct Act 1999 prohibits any Minister, Deputy Minister or Member of Parliament (MP) from dishonesty or improperly acquiring any pecuniary advantage or assisting in the acquisition of pecuniary advantage by another person. It prohibits:
The Zambian Act is progressive. However, analysts have observed that it fails to direct that the declarations of assets should be in a standard format. Consequently, it is not possible to compare submissions as a measure, analysing variations of any class of assets. Furthermore, there are no opening and closing declarations to indicate movements in acquisitions of assets overtime by declarants.
Excessive gifts, frequently given, raise suspicion. It must be the duty of the Public Protector to ensure that the system is in place.The region should aim for legislation which compels public officials to declare all their assets, liabilities and interests on a regular basis. It is not sufficient to declare assets at the start and end of one's tenure of service. This is because assets and liabilities can fluctuate and one can acquire a new business interest at any time. The record should show the pattern of an individual's assets and liabilities. There must be a system whereby the government can track fluctuations of an official's assets. The information must be available and this ensures transparency and accountability.
The information should provide comparisons of assets of officials of the same rank. If one official has assets that are much higher than his equal a service, it ought to cause suspicion. The Public Protection, Ombudsman or Anti-Corruption Commission should investigate the matter as soon as the suspicion arises therefore a vigilant match of the registry must be kept.
The duty to prove the origin of the assets lies on the suspected official. It may well be that the official utilised his wit and skill to improve his or her financial position. The reverse onus is justifiable because it is a necessary curtailment of the right to innocence before the proof of guilt. The curtailment is justifiable in an open and democratic nation which upholds, transparency, accountability and integrity.
The legislation should go further and compel officials to declare gifts from people or organisations who are involved and intend to be involved in public business, enterprise or projects. The gifts must be over a certain value which is low. For example, South Africa has introduced a law whereby public officials declare gifts worth US$50 and above. What is required is for the public officials is to follow the regulation.
The legislation should enforce set restrictions as to when and how these interests and assets can be declared. It is imperative that there is a set procedure in order to detect a deflection from the process.
When an official fails to disclose this information within the given date, or fails to follow all procedure, the Ombudsman, Public Protection or Anti-Corruption Commission must penalise the official. The penalties must be stipulated in the legislation to ensure uniformity, impartiality and transparency. It is the responsibility of the anti-corruption watchdog to ensure that this happens. This means that the public watchdog must act swiftly.
7. ESTABLISHMENT OF DATA BANK FOR NETWORKING
There is an urgent need to set up a database focusing on corruption that is occurring. The most effective way is through the electronic media. Initially a study needs to be done in each country to see what publications are available. These are then put together on a national database. The regional database will be based on the national databases. A study must then be conducted to ensure that there is no duplication of material. Furthermore, the regional database must indicate which national database is lagging behind. The research being undertaken must be tabled and immediately put into the database to ensure that the system is continually updated.
This is a fact-finding network rather than research orientated. A research team on each country in the region must be appointed to maintain the database. Another research team should manage the regional database on a permanent basis. The various nations should contribute to a fund to finance the database for the region. The purpose is to have accurate, independent and reliable information or data at the disposal of as many users as possible.
8. RESOURCE CENTRE
It is necessary to establish a resource centre which is constantly being upgraded with current studies on the methodology that can be implemented to curb corruption.
The resource centre is postulative and provides solutions to the problem. It is technique orientated and it bases its information on examples of corruption that have already occurred. It must go further and envisage corruption that may occur and provide stopgaps to ensure that the corruption does not in fact occur.
A research orientated approach requires a careful synthesis and anti- corruption analysis of the databank needed for networking. It is not enough to know what has happened. The information or data must lead to strategies.
The dissemination of this information could be through the electronic media. This means that countries within the region have to centralise their information in one resource centre which is administered locally. Information must be disseminated rapidly otherwise it becomes redundant.
9. REGIONAL NETWORKING AND CO-OPERATION
The success of major shifts in any social process depends on ensuring that a large number of people participate in the process of change. Success depends on the availability of the necessary capacities including the following:
There is however, a fourth capacity, the vehicular capacity. This capacity is vital for conveying the substance and content of the other capacities. It is equally vital for the generation and dissemination of all forms of information that is necessary for any successful process of change.
Insofar as the vehicular capacity is both the system and the process there can be no success of large-scale participation unless there is equally large-scale dissemination of new data and information. Thus, vehicular capacity is basic to all this as it involves the public and the public's easy access to the information.
10. FORMATION OF TI CHAPTERS
Transparency International (TI) should be increasingly visible and vocal throughout the world. Regions should collectively try to set up various TI Chapters. TI is established in a substantial number of countries already and it must use these existing chapters to expedite this process. The Chapters must lend support to their counterparts in the region by slaving experiences and information.
In the SADC region Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique and Botswana are in the process of forming new TI Chapters. However these effort have turned out to be painfully slow. Regional co-operation is needed in this regard.
11. THE IACC COUNCIL
The IACC Council must exist in the interim between the biannual events. It provides a global stage for the discussion of anti- corruption strategies. It highlights the issue of corruption and reaches a wider audience than regional efforts.
12. NETWORKING WITH COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY ASSOCIATION
Transparency International must lobby the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to get involved in the fight against corruption. It is imperative that coalitions are formed with a multiplicity of international co-operations.
13. IN CONCLUSION
In the final analysis the anti corruption campaign must take a very serious global stance. The emphasis is on the global standards of integrity for the new millennium.
It is hoped that this paper has sufficiently highlighted the solutions it is not intending to be exhaustive but to open up new ideas.
Notes and References