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Corruption tops agenda as African States meet in Addis Ababa

By Nzau Musau in Addis Ababa | Published Sat, January 27th 2018 at 00:00, Updated January 26th 2018 at 20:56 GMT +3
A general view of the 26th African Union Summit at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 30 January 2016

For the umpteenth time, Africa’s top diplomats are converging at Africa’s political headquarters of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to discuss how to slay the dragon of corruption.

The series of meetings themed winning the fight against corruption, a sustainable path to Africa’s transformation, are featuring Permanent Representatives to the Africa Union (AU), foreign affairs ministers and presidents and heads of governments.

To whet the knife against the monster, the 55 Permanent Representatives to the AU - including Kenya’s Catherine Muigai - began their meetings on Monday and concluded them on Tuesday.

They handed over the knife to the Foreign Affairs ministers who for two days - Thursday and Friday - confirmed the knife is sharp enough.

And to finish the task and free up Africa, African Presidents will swoop in on Addis Ababa today to deal the final decisive blow to the vice tomorrow.

“Problem with African leadership is talk, talk and more talk…. If only can implement just a quarter of what they keep talking on here in Addis,” a taxi driver, speaking in broken English told this writer yesterday as we drove to the meeting venue.

Systemic corruption

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But to AU leadership here, this is not a ritual and all talk.

At the opening of the Permanent Representatives meeting, AU Commission chair Faki Mahamat was fired up against corruption - twice swearing and once talking.

“The commission will do everything in its power to support implementation of the decisions that will be adopted on this matter, but in the final analysis, the primary responsibility is that of the States”, he told the conference.

Acknowledging that such a powerful theme raised huge expectation which cannot be dashed, he called on the ambassadors to “redouble efforts and energies” so that 2018 will mark decisive progress.

Systemic corruption has been cited as one of the biggest factors hindering economic growth amongst African states. More recent, corruption has been cited as a contributing factor to insecurity and disintegration of states.

“The most important thing is that we are courageous enough to say it’s a serious issue and to recommit our institutions to the fight against the vice. This is testimony to how serious we are taking this issue,” Kenya’s Foreign Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed told the Saturday Standard outside the plenary.

President Uhuru Kenyatta who is expected in Addis Ababa today, has given indications that his last term in office may be a brutal one to the corrupt and their networks.

For a start, he has unilaterally reorganised the police service leadership, forced the resignation of Director of Public Prosecution and sacked more than half of his cabinet secretaries.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs ministers emerged from a closed-door session meeting on International Criminal Court at Africa Union headquarters to say they are getting positive feelers from the Hague-based court.

Mrs Mohamed who attended the meeting of the open-ended committee of ministers on ICC on Thursday, said they were impressed with the attention they are getting from the court.

She, however, said Africa’s concerns on the workings of the court remained live issues until they are fully settled.

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