DAKAR (TrustLaw) – Fighting both corruption and bad governance should be an integral part of any new sustainable development goals that emerge from the next month’s United Nations Earth Summit (Rio+20) in Brazil, African civil society organisations (CSOs) have said.
African CSOs met last week in Dakar, Senegal, to share ideas on what they want to see the Rio+20 summit achieve. They said widespread corruption and weak governance have derailed African countries’ efforts to reach Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). MDGs, set by the international community in 2000, were designed to improve health and reduce poverty globally by 2015.
Here three experts, who attended the meeting to discuss the Rio+20 summit, share their views on the impact that corruption has on development.
Amina Az Zubair
CEO of the Nigeria’s Centre for Development Policy Solutions, and former senior special assistant to the President of Nigeria on MDGs
“Corruption has been one of the biggest causes of loss of lives in Africa. I don’t just attribute it to people stealing money and putting it in bank accounts around world. I see it clearly as that that has contributed to our mothers dying because they (leaders) have not put those investments in our hospitals, to our children not getting a quality education because we don’t invest in the curriculum for our teachers.
“I believe that we are concerned with finishing the MDGs and building a more ambitious set of development goals with measurements that go beyond GDP but most importantly are linked to governance and accountability, ensuring zero tolerance for corruption at all levels.
“I have to say at all levels because this corruption has manifested (itself) in the fabric of society across the north and south divide. In the south maybe we don’t keep it under the table. It is all over the place. Everybody can find it, feel it, touch it, and every day we are advocating to get rid of it. But in the north, it is something that is camouflaged and it’s only when things rupture that you begin to see it is the same thing that we have in the south.”
National coordinator, the Kenya Youth Network for Rio+20 & Beyond
“Good governance comes first in all things. There is no way that you are saying that you are working on sustainable development when there is war, when you have conflict, when you have leaders that are not transparent, when you have leaders that are not accountable, when you find that many of the funds that are meant to support development get lost through corruption.
“One way to have good governance is to elect people who have good leadership skills and are accountable. The poor people remain poor (in Africa) because our leaders are not there to support those people. If we don’t have good leaders then our attempts to achieve sustainable development (will) not come true.
“When you are fighting corruption it is good to focus on the youth. These old people, they already have a mentality that corruption is a must and a way of life. Let’s go to the young people and train them on an attitude of being transparent, of being accountable so that when they grow up to become leaders they would be able to have those skills.”
Central Africa region coordinator, the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance
“There is no sustainable development without good governance. You need natural capital, human capital and investments to achieve sustainable development but if these are mismanaged there can never be sustainable development.
“It is ironical that where there are natural resources poverty stinks. One of the key reasons (for that) is lack of governance… Africa has a lot of natural resources but why is (it) poor? We are poor because of corruption, lack of governance and lack of transparency.”