SADC protocol against corruption lies idle

 

Gaborone – The Southern African Forum against Corruption (Safac) has made an urgent call on SADC members to implement the regional block’s Protocol against Corruption.

The call was made during the Safac’s 13th annual general meeting, which was held in Gaborone recently. At the meeting, participants blamed the non-functioning SADC Committee on Corruption (SACC) for the delay in the implementation of the protocol.

Various speakers observed that implementation of SADC Protocol against Corruption has not taken place despite commitments made by member states.

The director of Anti-Corruption Commission of Namibia, Paulus Noa, said the SADC Anti-Corruption protocol was the first to be adopted and also the first to enter into force but has not yet started to operationalise.

“SADC Protocol against Corruption was adopted in 2001 and met the required number of ratification to enter into force in a short time.

“However, political principals have failed to honour their pledge following the adoption of the protocol, namely that preventative and effective measures would be put in place to ensure full implementation of the protocol by member states,” he said.

According to Noa, they found themselves being by-passed by other legal instruments such as the African Union Co-operation against corruption as well as the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

“The protocol is under the custody of the SADC Secretariat, whose mandate is to manage and ensure that the protocol is operationalised and fully funded. It is essential to map a way forward as to how the committee would operationalise and implement the protocol,” he said.

Noa said that SADC needs to accelerate the implementation of developmental programmes, noting that this is only guaranteed when oversight institutions are well co-ordinated, strengthened and adequately funded.

“With the advent of regional, continental and international legal instruments on the prevention and fight against corruption, the question is no longer merely about investigation and prosecution of the culprits,” said Noa.

He added that it is also more about regional and international co-operation, aimed at mutual legal assistance for purposes of confiscation and recovery of stolen assets or proceeds of crime, wherever they are found.

For her part, the chairperson of Southern African Forum against Corruption, Rosewin Wandi, said operationalisation of the instrument was long overdue, adding that it had been nine years since the protocol came into force beginning July 2005 and operationalisation still remained a pipe dream.

“The purpose of the protocol is to promote development of anti-corruption mechanisms at national levels, promote cooperation in the fight against corruption by state parties and harmonise anti-corruption national legislation in the region,” she explained.

According to Wandi, the protocol further provided a wide set of preventive mechanisms including development of codes of conduct for public officials, transparency in public procurement, easy access to public information as well as protection of whistle blowers among others.

The successful implementation of the protocol he said depended on effective implementation mechanisms.

“The responsibilities of the SADC Anti-Corruption Committee included gathering and dissemination of information as well as intelligence on corruption among member states,” she said.

May 2014
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