President Hage Geingob has joined former South African President Thabo Mbeki on the war against illicit financial flows by calling on Africans to close the taps of corruption leaking billions, if not trillions, of much-needed money out of the continent.
Geingob did not mince his words when he highlighted that these funds could have been used to develop African countries, but leave the coffers of the continent due to corrupt practices.
He made the remarks when he officiated at the sixth Annual General Meeting and Conference of Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Commonwealth Africa underway at Swakopmund.
These sentiments were exactly those of Mbeki when he was head of a high-level panel on illicit financial flows from Africa, who last year stressed that Africa faces the great challenge of large volumes of capital leaving the continent illicitly.
This was also highlighted by the United Nations and African Union Regional Anti-Corruption Programme for Africa (2011-2016) which discovered that the socio-economic and political cost of corruption is myriad in Africa and in addition, illicit financial flows especially by multinational corporations (MNCs) continue to deny African countries the much needed financial resources for development.
Also, Global Financial Integrity, a US-based think tank estimates that illicit outflows increased from U$1.06 trillion in 2006 to approximately U$1.26 trillion in 2008, with average annual illicit outflows from developing countries averaging U$725 billion to U$810 billion per year, over the period 2000-2008.
Geingob did not fall far from those feelings and said that systematic corrupt practices impact on service delivery in many ways including misplaced spending priorities and inflated costs.
“Another way of looking at it, is when quality input goods in the construction process get substituted for lower quality goods which shortens the life span of infrastructure and therefore inflates maintenance costs,” explained Geingob.
“Such corrupt practices also have negative macroeconomic consequences. One such well-documented consequence is capital flight, which in turn puts strain on the balance of payment positions of our countries.”
He quoted the 2016 Transparency International report which noted that there are developed countries that are perceived to be relatively corruption free, yet their firms engage and promote corrupt practices in developing countries.
He said, similarly, there are Western countries which are anti-corruption warriors yet the proceeds of corruption from developing countries easily find a way into their financial systems.
“We need to debunk the hypocrisy and double-speak that paints corruption as a largely developing world, public sector issue. Corruption is a manifestation of human greed which needs to be rooted out and exposed at all levels.”
According to Geingob, as there is an aim to work towards a public sector which is accountable and transparent, the private sector also needs standards of accountability.
“As any good dancer knows, it takes two to dance kizomba. For an act of corruption to take place, there is always a corruptor and a corruptee, each as corrupt as the other. I plead with the private sector to report corruption and not participate in it.”
He continued: “While all corruption is destructive, it is important for us to distinguish whether corruption is endemic or not.”
“We aspire for a corruption free society but we are mindful that in any society, there will always be those who seek dishonest means of self-enrichment.”
“We will however enforce zero tolerance for corruption as isolated corruption, which is not dealt with, can quickly gain momentum and become systemic corruption. This type of systemic corruption requires weak leadership, weak institutions and a weak democratic culture.”
Geingob then turned his attention to the local anti-graft body headed by Paulus Noa, saying that he is pleased when he reads critique of the institution.
“A well-liked, popular anti-corruption agency would make me unhappy as the very nature of your mandate should automatically disqualify you from winning the popularity contest.”