The 11th of July 2022 marks the 6th edition of the African Anti-Corruption Day as declared by the African Union and Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) joins the rest of the continent in the commemoration.
This year’s theme ‘Strategies and Mechanisms for the Transparent Management of Covid-19 Funds’, serves as a reminder that much as the pandemic seems to have plateaued, the effects of many governments’ response have left their economies saddled in debts, partly due to corrupt tendering that characterised procurement processes. The unfortunate reality is that the poor and vulnerable are the ones left to bear the burden through diverted funds from social services in order to pay for over inflated, and in some instances fictitious purchases.
In Zimbabwe, the then Minister of Health and Child Welfare Dr. Obediah Moyo was dismissed from office and had criminal charges laid against him for flouting tender procedures on the supply of medical equipment and personal protective clothing (PPEs) to a company called Drax. There were also reports of donated supplies by Namibia being repackaged and invoiced for payment at exorbitant prices.
Informal Economy Associations and their membership were also not spared as they were made to register their members with social welfare officials throughout the country, ostensibly so they could receive relief funds through the cash transfer system, only for it to be revealed by the Auditor General in Parliament that the majority of beneficiaries had been ruling party officials and other fictitious beings.
What is common in all the instances of financial irregularities across the continent is that there were weak to non-existent systems and regulations to curb against abuse by government officials.
VISET would like to take this opportunity today to call for the enactment of continental protocols and policies that will guide government responses in the event of future pandemics and disasters. All African governments must also implement social safety nets for the poor and vulnerable including those in urban areas.
In conclusion, it is our belief that if the collective will and political solidarity that is applied by African leaders to each other is equally applied to instilling systems and procedures to fight corruption, and pursuing the socioeconomic wellbeing of their people, then the continent can win the fight against corruption and poverty.