It is gives me great pleasure to join you in this year’s commemoration of the International Anti-Corruption Day under the theme United Against Corruption for Development, Peace and Security” and to deliver these remarks on behalf of the United Nations.

I wish to commend the organisers, Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offenses (DCEO), Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) and the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) for bringing us together to reflect on an important issue which continues to plague most societies, Lesotho not excepted, and undermines social and economic development.  I applaud their leadership and partnership in the fight against corruption in Lesotho particularly in the context of this theme “United Against Corruption for Development, Peace and Security”.   As you know the three of them have responsibility with the safety, security and peace of the Basotho (LMPS), collecting income for the development of the country (LRA) and being the anti-corruption watchdog (DCEO).  This partnership demonstrates   that fighting corruption is a cross-sectoral and a multi-institutional endeavour.  I encourage you to keep the partnership and dialogue active throughout the year beyond the commemoration.

The Right Honourable The Prime Minister,

Bo Mme le Bo Ntate,

The theme for this year’s commemoration “United Against Corruption for Development, Peace and Security” is a call for all to examine how corruption affects the fabric of society and to act to prevent it from being an obstacle to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As we may recall, the SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.   The 2030 Agenda recognizes the need to fight corruption in all its forms with   Goal 16 calling for the “Building of Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies” by reducing corruption, improving access to justice and strengthening institutions.

 During the Seventh Session of the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention Against Corruption held in Vienna, Austria on November 6 this year, the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterrez, stated that “We can only achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development if every nation has strong, transparent and inclusive institutions, based on the rule of law and supported by the public.”  He also stressed the fact that corruption destroys people's faith in good governance.

The Right Honourable The Prime Minister,

Bo Mme le Bo Ntate,

When we fail to tackle corruption, people grow increasingly cynical as they face deteriorating service delivery.  For example, misappropriation of funds can lead to citizens being denied access to basic social services such as education, health, justice and opportunities for employment and improved livelihoods.   Systemic corruption violates human rights, undermines sustainable development and fuels social exclusion.  Achieving the SDGs therefore, requires concerted and sustained action against corruption in all its forms.

Evidence shows that corruption has become a global threat with no country escaping the scourge.   The 2016 Global Corruption Perception Index indicates that no country got a perfect score, with over two-thirds of the 176 countries and territories in the index falling below the midpoint on the scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).  Corruption continues to hinder economic development by distorting markets and damaging both private and public sector’s integrity, especially in developing countries. The interplay of corruption and inequality also feeds populism. When traditional politicians fail to tackle corruption, people become disillusioned and turn to populist leaders who promise to break the cycle of corruption and privilege as is evidenced in the results of recent elections in many countries.

The Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov warns that “Corruption has a catastrophic impact on societies; it stifles opportunities, denying vulnerable people access to infrastructure, and condemns them to lives of inequality and inequity. The victims of corruption are not from a single generation. This crime haunts successive generations impacting on countless numbers of people.”   

Lesotho ranking of 83 and decreased score from 49 in 2014 to 39 in 2016, gives a pointer to the need for a concerted action by all; Government, Accountability Institutions, Law Enforcement and the citizenry at large. We can as a collective commit to:

•              Advocate for the implementation of Lesotho’s National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan (NACSAP) as this will help root out corruption and facilitate social and economic development.

•              Educate the public about government’s commitment to be corruption-free and ensure equal and fair justice as it is crucial for a country's stability and growth. It also helps to effectively fight crime.

•              Raise awareness with the public, media and government about the costs of corruption for key services such as health and education and therefore enable the entire society to benefit from functioning basic services.

•              Engage the youth of Lesotho about what ethical behaviour is, what corruption is and how to fight it, and to demand their right to education as this will ensure that future generations are brought up to expect corruption-free societies; one of the best tools to ensure a brighter future.

•              Report incidents of corruption to create an environment where the rule of law prevails and refuse to participate in any activity that is not legal and transparent and thus foster an environment for increased domestic and foreign investment.  We know that investors are more willing to invest in countries where they are assured that their funds are not being siphoned off into the pockets of corrupt individuals; and finally

•               Foster economic stability by enforcing zero tolerance practices towards corruption.     

The Right Honourable The Prime Minister,

Bo Mme le Bo Ntate,

The Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho took a step in the right direction by developing and launching the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan (NACSAP) in 2015 and we in UNDP are proud to have supported the initiative.   Even though progress in the implementation of the NACSAP has been a bit slow, it is gratifying to note that the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offenses (DCEO), has begun to implement key priority areas of the strategy including establishment of District Anti-Corruption Committees, holding sectoral workshops and rolling out the asset declaration initiative.  We applaud Cabinet for leading by example with last week’s declaration of assets by some Ministers and hope we will witness full compliance by the entire cabinet before the close of year.

I am reliably informed that the collaboration among the three law enforcement agencies namely; the DCEO, the LMPS and LRA in organizing Anti-Corruption Symposia and observing the International Anti-Corruption Day; has contributed to significantly raising public awareness on corruption.   As stakeholders in the fight against this endemic problem, we need to build on the gains we have made and re-double our efforts to eradicate corruption in all its forms.  The UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2003 and entered into force in December 2005; is the first legally binding instrument against corruption. There are other regional and sub-regional instruments like the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (CPCC), the African Parliamentarians’ Network Against Corruption (APNAC) and the SADC Protocol Against Corruption including national frameworks like the NACSAP that we can implement to ensure future generations are protected from the scourge of corruption.

The Right Honourable The Prime Minister,

Bo Mme le Bo Ntate

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