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Clerics warn on huge debt, graft

By Kirsten Kanja | Sep 30th 2020 | 2 min read
By Kirsten Kanja | September 30th 2020

Rev Dr Fidon Mwombeki, General Secretary, All Africa Conference of Churches

Believers are being deceived on the true state of debt in their countries, putting the sovereignty of these states at risk, African churches have warned.

The clerics warned that most African countries' debt has become unsustainable, with the funds being channelled to projects shrouded in secrecy, particularly contracts and procurement.

The churches, which held a virtual meeting for the launch of a policy brief on debt and corruption earlier this week, saw leaders detail their experiences with graft and trends that affect Africa.

“We see a worrying lack of awareness among the population about the seriousness of the problem of unsustainable debt.

"People are happy to see new developments, especially the mega projects that have now become a signature of the continent as every country targets to reach “middle-income status by 2025,” said Rev Fidon Mwombeki, secretary general for the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC).

"There is a lot of secrecy around these megaprojects, particularly on contracts, procurement, financing and awarding of tenders and the information is not easily accessible.”

According to Rev Mwombeki, debt is a tool for the new scramble of Africa, with borrowing nations allowing racist and inhumane treatment of its citizens by lending partners.

“We want to see the people in different countries in Africa discussing and paying attention to the emerging debt crises, to let the people know and keep demanding their governments to fight corruption, even where corruption has lamentably become tolerated and expected,” Mwombeki said.

“We want to see churches condemning these vices, making them known and using their spiritual resources to help both perpetrators and victims of corruption.”

The AACC noted that countries which secured debt relief after the campaigns in the early 2000s by churches under the umbrella of Jubilee 2000 are back in the same quagmire.

The Jubilee 2000 initiative is credited with getting African creditors, mainly the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development member countries and multilateral lenders to offer debt relief to a tune of Sh10 trillion ($100 billion), owed by 35 of the world’s poorest countries.

These concerns have led to the launch of the group’s policy brief on debt and corruption that will bring together African churches to collectively fight corruption and high debt levels.

“AACC developed the policy brief to guide its stand on the debt crisis and corruption in the continent, as well as lay out its campaign on working with its network of churches across Africa to campaign against the two growing challenges,” read the statement in part.

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