By Abubakar Jimoh
Abubakar Jimoh speaking at the meeting in Kigali, Rwanda
As part of the efforts to provide leadership in advancing good governance and anti-corruption agenda through exhaustive brainstorming and timely experience sharing, Transparency International recently organized three days annual regional meeting in Kigali comprising African regional chapters of Transparency International.
The meeting which was hosted by TI-Rwanda aimed at sharing experience on the newly emerging challenges across the continent including citizens’ participation in governance, illicit financial flows and governance for peace and securities,.
Giving his opening remarks at the meeting, Apollinaire Mupiganyi, Executive Director of Transparency International, Rwanda said, “TI as a global movement is committed to fight corruption, illicit flows and ensure corruption free society. In fighting corruption, TI hinges on, among others, mobilizing and supporting citizens around the world to speak up and take action against corruption.
“This meeting provides a very timely opportunity for participants across African region to reflect citizen participation in governance processes, illicit financial flows and governance for peace and security. Citizen participation in democratic governance is essential to achieve a well governed society. Effective participation requires public trust between governments and citizen, as well as deliberate and structured, transparent government effort to engage citizens. Citizens can mobilise to hold their leader accountable, and demand spaces for participation and accountability.”
Also, Chantal Uwimana, Regional Director for Sub-Sahara Africa at Transparency International saw the Forum as a very timely opportunity for African participants to reflect on the importance of citizens’ participation in the region. She said, “In a number of occasions, it was reported that citizens are not educated to effectively participate in governance. It is therefore, the responsibility of civil society to properly educate citizens to properly educate citizen to demand accountability.”
Ambassador Fatuma Ndangiza, Deputy Chief Executive Officer on Decentralization and Good Governance Promotion at Rwanda Governance Board and the Guest of Honour at the Forum stressed that “Africa is a vibrant continent, however, the current crises on the continent remains a security challenges in Africa. It is therefore, African responsibility to work in collaboration to fight corruption, illicit financial flows and insecurity using a preventive approach rather than being ‘fire fighter’.”
A paper titled “Citizen Participation in Africa: A General Overview” presented by Paul Banoba of Africa Department of Transparency International accessed the state of good governance, citizens participation and security in Africa using four major thematic focuses of Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance such as Safety and Rule of Law—Rule of Law, Accountability, Personal Safety, National Security; Participation and Human Rights—Citizen Participation, Rights, Gender; Sustainable Economic Opportunity—Public Management, Business Environment, Infrastructure, Rural Sector; Human Development—Welfare, Education, Health.
Surprisingly, the report, which compared data between 2005-2009 and 2009-20013, shows in a scale of 6.0: Overall Governance, 1.2 and 0.9; Safety and Rule of Law, -1.5 and -0.8; Participation and Human Rights, 0.7 and 2.4; Sustainable Economic Opportunity, 3.4 and -0.2; Human Development, 2.2 and 2.3. In a scale of 4.0, the report identifies under Participation and Human Rights sub-category, change in participation, gender and rights scoring 3.8, 2.4 and 0.9 respectively.
Meanwhile, in the analysis of Banoba, across the region, 2013 Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) shows an average of 53% of people paid a bribe to one of eight service providers in the preceding 12 months.
In terms of citizens engaging in corruption, GCB reveals in Sierra Leone, 84%; Liberia, 75%; Kenya, 70%; Mozambique, 62%; Zimbabwe, 62%; Cameroon, 62%; Uganda, 61%; Senegal, 57; Tanzania, 56; Ghana, 54%; South Africa, 47%; DR Congo, 46%; Ethiopia, 44%; Nigeria, 44%; South Sudan, 39%; Madagascar, 28%; and Rwanda 13% people.
He listed as positive trends in citizen participation, increased collaboration between Anti-corruption agencies and Civil Society; developments in mechanisms for citizens to report corruption; Toll Free lines; participatory increased via technology; increase in citizen originated participation mechanisms.
However, Banoba lamented some negative developments including: Freedom of Information Legislation, which has been passed into law by very few African countries—Angola, Ethiopia, Guinea, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe; Whistle-Blower protection legislation, which has been passed into law by very few African countries; inadequate facilitation for participation; and legislation and proposed legislation threatening civil society intervention.
A paper presented by Transparency International-Senegal noted that like every other country in Africa, Senegal has inherited from colonial master some legal frameworks, which do not reflect the socio-political reality in the country. The country presently experiences poor working relationship among the executive, legislature and judiciary. The paper reiterated the need for citizens to properly understand the constitutional mandates of legislature, as they relate the primary responsibility of legislature to provision of roads, schools etc.; while legislature are constitutional mandated to represent, make law and control action of government.
Also Jimmy Luhende of Actions for Democracy and Local Governance (ADLG) representing Transparency International-Tanzania as part of the efforts to encourage citizens participation in governance, the use of ‘Animation’—an approach built on notion that Tanzanians shall realize their innate potential for improving their lives through inclusive and participatory democracy where a collective action is a result of involvement of all members of a community. Through this, skills development and capacity building training is organized for selected teachers, farmers and religious leaders to ensure they are well-informed to demand accountability from the government.
According to Luhende, “Lots of community dialogues to challenge practices, promote individual innovations, reflections and critical thinking towards inspiring citizens to take collective decisive actions. These dialogues are results of animation trainings and innovative mentoring for individuals selected by respective community members.
“Dialogues happen at Village levels, ward level where ward leaders are involved and at district level where district officials are also involved. This is the period where mentoring is done for special reasons and is done by an animator (animators support one another) an active farmer animator visits another village where a farmer animator needs support.”
Interestingly, while responding to presentation by Luhende, Abubakar Jimoh representating the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) also Nigeria contact of TI, shared Nigeria’s experience noting that various engagements have exposed inexperience of many policy makers about their mandated roles and responsibilities creating a wide gap between them and citizens. Jimoh urged the TI-Tanzania to also incorporate policy makers in its thematic focus rather than only electorate. Also, as a question to Senegal, Jimoh demanded to understand the level of gender participation in the governance in Senegal. In response, Presenter from Senegal disclosed that Senegal adopted in 2012, a law to encourage participation of women; and legislature has legislated that one man will come with a women in a constituency for elected position. He however, lamented weakness in the implementation of the law; and poor contribution by women in political activities.
Dr. Félicien Usengumukiza, the Chief Executive Officer at Research and Monitoring of Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) in his presentation titled “Homegrown Initiatives (HGIs) and Citizen Participation in Rwanda”, he highlighted some Home Grown Initiatives solutions developed by the Rwandan citizens to fast track their development building on local opportunities, cultural values and history. HGIs have enabled Rwandans to come up with appropriate solutions to the local development context, and have been the bedrock to the Rwandan success for the last decade.
Some of HGIs explained in his analysis include: Usengumukiza include: Umuganda—a day intended to build community involvement and strengthen cohesion between persons from different background and levels; Abunzi—instituted Mediation Committees to solve problems among Neighbours; Imihigo—practice adopted as a means of planning to accelerate progress towards economic development and poverty reduction; Ubudehe—an initiative established to help local people create social capital, nurture citizenship and build a strong civil society to engage in local problem-solving using their own locally designed institutions; Itorero—a school of civic education for all citizens; Girinka—a traditional practice consisting of donating cows to a fellow citizen as a sign of deep friendship and cohesion; Agaziro—an avenue where Rwandans have the opportunity to take a more active role in owning the nation’s development.
According to the Chief Executive Officer, Rwanda has “concurrently implemented all forms of decentralization considered to be the main mechanism in promoting good governance (through improved participation, promotion of transparency and accountability, and setting up responsive and sensitive decentralized structures), enhance local economic development (through efficient and effective implementation of development programs) and bringing quality and accessible services closer to the citizens.”
He however, itemised some areas demanding more efforts for better improvement such as regional and international security, rural development, balance of payment deficit, population growth, youth employment, infrastructure, income distribution, urbanization and land management.
More importantly, sharing experience of state of governance in Zimbabwe, in a paper titled “Governance for Peace and Security: A Zimbabwean Case Study”, Mary Jane Ncube of Transparency International Zimbabwe (TI Z) noted that in 2014, sufficient evidence from TI Z’s different advocacy and research activities reveals worse state of governance with less than 20% in statistics. Also, in her analysis, more recently World Bank’s Country Policy and Institutional Assessments (CPIA) scored Zimbabwe 1.5 of a possible score of 6 on transparency, accountability and corruption in the public sector rating.
She said, “In October 2013, the Mo Ibrahim Governance Index ranked Zimbabwe 47 of 52 countries and declared Zimbabwe the worst governed country in Africa. In 2014 the Mo Ibrahim Index ranked Zimbabwe 46 of 54 countries assessed with a score of 38% against the Continent average of 51.5. On rule of law Zimbabwe is ranked 42th of 52 countries with a score of 29%. On Accountability the ranking was 44 of 52 African countries with a score of 23.6.
“The business of government has been relegated to the back seat as ruling party internal politics (factional infighting) are with seemingly deliberate intention allowed to assume supremacy over all other. The infighting is liberally played out in the media partly as agenda setting for the 2018 elections and partly as a distraction from the real issues of economic decline and human insecurity.
“Lip service is paid to the back sliding economy while in fact, there is no political will to address the fundamentals necessary for its resuscitation. Policy development and implementation are limited only to the extent to which it furthers the dynasties of the political elite. The over emphasis on the high level mineral mining sector for example is borne from the vested interests of individuals within the ruling party and security sector rather than national interests.”
Ncube bemoaned the dampening state of peace in Zimbabwe having a direct reflection of a society moulded by repression, intimidation, apathy, patronage, kleptocracy and ignorance, stressing that police has become an institution used to control, repress and intimidate the society. “Recently the police were captured on film beating to death the owner of a passenger commuter bus (Matatu). A few days later an activist in peaceful protest against the current economic hardships besetting the country was beaten up in public view at Unity Square Gardens right in the middle of Harare,” she explained.
A presentation by Nora Honkaniemi of ActionAid, Kenya titled “Illicit Financial Flows and Tax” explained that illicit financial flows deprive Africa of billions of dollars each year, more than is received in overseas development aid or foreign direct investment combined.
“Figures vary between 50 and 160 billion USD a year depending on what outflows are calculated and during what time period. Illicit financial flows are commonly associated with criminal activity like drug dealing, smuggling or human trafficking. But according to the African Union High Level Panel on IFF, 60-65% of illicit movements involve multinationals and commercial transactions like corporate tax evasion and avoidance.
“Multinational companies can be found to be operating in Africa while contributing little in the way of taxes, depriving countries of badly needed domestic resources. Multinationals often defraud countries of tax revenue by using mechanisms like transfer mispricing, or by exploiting tax treaties to hide their profits in places offering very low tax rates or by abusing tax incentives. These mechanisms allow for financial secrecy, preventing taxation where taxation is due and contribute to the illicit outflow of finances from developing countries. From a development perspective impact is disastrous: these lost resources could pay for schools, hospitals and other essential services and reduce dependence on external financing,” she lamented.
Similarly, Antonio M.A. Pedro in a presentation titled “Illicit financial flows and governance of natural resources: A perspective” argued in support of Honkaniemi when he quoted a fact that “at least US$1trillion leaves developing countries each year through corrupt activity that involves shady deals for natural resources, anonymous shell companies, money laundering and illegal tax evasion. Redressing these challenges requires specific policies and action to increase transparency and combat corruption in financial secrecy, natural resources deals and money laundering.”
After critical experience sharing and exhaustive deliberations on a number of regional efforts to curb such emerging trends, in order to enhance citizen participation, participants declared to put in place mechanisms to protect their citizens’ voices; simplify information encourage communities participation in public policy issues; build on existing citizens own structural organizations to enhance civic participation; develop and strengthen mechanisms for citizens to report corruption; advocate for enacting and implementing Freedom of Information and whistleblower protection laws.
To combat illicit financial flows, participant noted the need to domesticate all the transfer operations all along the mining operation process; reduce the anonymous share companies; build infrastructure capacities; disclose information on beneficial ownership of companies; enhance capacity to properly analyse Information provided by companies; continue building on existing initiatives such as EITI; reinforce knowledge of the chapters about taxation; examine the existing taxation agreements and advocate for revision, renegotiation or cancellation if necessary to avoid the financial flows from taxation, advocate for a conducive legal framework to detect and report the IFF from taxation; make taxation disclosure part of the social responsibility requirements.
The best practices identified by the Forum to attain governance for peace and security include: community policing; establishing anti-corruption unit in the police; initiating participation by police and army in public works with the community; initiating mechanisms that helps police to implement anticorruption policies; and building good partnership with police by informing the citizens.