Thursday, January 17, 2019
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International Anti-Corruption Day

International Anti-Corruption DaySouth Africa is no stranger to the murky world of bribery, corruption and graft, so much so the country has a presidentially appointed Commission of Inquiry investigating what is called “state capture” in a departure from the more criminal associations that come with bribery, corruption and graft.

One of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s responsibilities is State-owned defence and technology group, Denel, identified as being captured. He appointed a new board and forensic investigations are underway – contract by contract – to end illegal activities and bring the group back to profitability.

Gordhan is on record as saying South Africa may have lost R100 billion to state capture.

This is a considerable amount but shrinks massively when looked at in terms of international financial losses to what the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls the “pervasive crime of corruption”.

The former Portuguese prime minister, in a message to mark International Anti-Corruption Day (December 9), pointed out “more than five percent of global GDP (Gross Domestic Product)” amounting to trillions of dollars paid in bribes or stolen through corruption.

He called corruption an assaulted on the values of the UN saying “"it robs societies of schools, hospitals and other vital services, drives away foreign investment and strips nations of their natural resources”.

A trillion dollars are paid in bribes annually, while another 2.6 trillion is stolen; all due to corruption.

The United Nations is fighting the global scourge, which affects both rich and poor countries, through initiatives like the global campaign launched jointly by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The campaign recognises corruption as one of the biggest impediments to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed by all nations of the world in 2015, to advance humankind. To counter that pernicious reality the campaign wants communities to use the Anti-Corruption logo during related events and highlight community actions on social platforms by using the hashtag #UnitedAgainstCorruption and tagging @UNDP, @UNODC.

Government officials, civil society, the private sector, and anti-corruption advocates can reference the campaign’s “Call to Action Matrix” which offers recommendations for strategies against corruption.

Additionally, the United Nations Convention against Corruption, adopted in 2003, is the only legally-binding, universal anti-corruption instrument.

Its far-reaching approach covers the full spectrum of corruption and 186 Member States are parties to the Convention.

Guterres called the Convention a “primary tool” for advancing the fight and highlighted positive outcomes made possible through its implementation.

“Through the Convention's peer review mechanism we can work together and build a foundation of trust and accountability,” he said.