EAC Partner states must adopt a comprehensive mechanism to uproot corruption in the region if the integration process is to be fully undertaken, participants at the East African Community conference on good governance have said.
The two-day conference that is underway in Kigali has attracted regional government officials and experts. The meeting is being held under the theme: “Sustaining the fight against corruption to promote regional integration.”
Speaking at the opening of the meeting, the Speaker of Parliament, Rose Mukantabana, said a regional approach towards fighting graft is the only appropriate way of eliminating, or at least minimising the vice.
“To achieve a successful regional integration and sustainable development, it is imperative for EAC partner states to develop regional standards and principles that they will abide by to sustain the fight against corruption,” Mukantabana said.
The Speaker urged the five EAC partner States to entrench the culture of transparency among regional citizens, saying this will be a great tool in fighting graft.
“In order to attain a prosperous, competitive, secure, stable and politically united East Africa, issues of ethics, transparency and accountability have to be treated with utmost seriousness,” she said
“It is the only way that the EAC’s mission of improving the quality of life of East Africans through increased competitiveness, value added production, trade and investment would be achieved.”
It’s estimated that in Africa, more than $148 billion is lost annually to corruption and other graft-related vices, with perpetrators of corruption shipping the loot off to banks in the developed world.
Africa lost up to $1.4 trillion between 1980 and 2009 to illicit outflows, according to a joint report by the African Development Bank and advocacy group Global Financial Integrity.
Monique Mukaruliza, the minister for EAC affairs, told the participants that it would be hard for good governance to develop in the region if the countries do not collaborate.
“Democratic governance in East Africa requires continuous and consistent nurturing. There is a lot more work to be done in strengthening institutions and oversight mechanisms that are often referred to as the “hardware and software” of good governance,” said the minister.
Miria Matembe, a former minister for ethics and integrity in Uganda, said greed for wealth and hunger for power is the major cause of corruption in the region. She advised partner states to first realise that they are corrupt and after accepting the reality draw mechanisms to fight the vice.
“There is need for personal will if the war on corruption is to be won, don’t look at others as the corrupt ones only but rather check yourself. For instance, when your relatives are arrested over corruption-related cases, you go as far as bribing authorities to release them,” Matembe said.
The East African Bribery Index 2012 launched in Kampala, last year, ranked Rwanda the least corrupt country, followed by Tanzania and Kenya in second and third positions, respectively. Burundi was fourth and Uganda trailed.
Rwanda has a bribery aggregate index of 2.5 per cent. Burundi, the worst ranked country in 2011, recorded a significantly lower index of 18.8 per cent; Kenya and Tanzania were 29.5 per cent and 39.1 per cent, respectively, while Uganda registered the highest bribery levels in the region with a percentage value of 40.7 per cent.
Corruption also hinders the transporters in region since some are forced to pay a bribe on the highways, officials say.
Article from Newtimes