It is a great pleasure and honour to join you at today’s Anti-corruption symposium on the theme “United Against Corruption for Development, Peace and Security” and to deliver these remarks on behalf of UNDP Lesotho.
The theme for this year’s Anti-Corruption Symposium is auspicious as countries initiate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDG as we are aware, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Unlike the MDGs which did not have an explicit focus on corruption, the SDGs explicitly target corruption under Goal 16 : “Building Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies” with two targets 16.4 and 16.5 explicitly addressing issues of corruption and illicit financial flows. Goal 16 and its targets on reducing corruption, access to justice and strengthening institutions are therefore key and provide important conditions for the successful achievement of the entire sustainable development agenda.
Corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune.
As the 2016 Global Corruption Perception Index showed, no country got a perfect score, with over two-thirds of the 176 countries and territories in the index falling below the midpoint of the scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). The global average score of 43, indicates endemic corruption in countries, with top-scoring countries far outnumbering countries where citizens face the tangible impact of corruption on a daily basis. The results highlight the connection between corruption and inequality; that the two factors feed off each other to create a vicious circle between corruption and the unequal distribution of power and wealth in society. As the Chair of the Transparency International, Jose Ugaz, noted “In too many countries, people are deprived of their most basic needs and go to bed hungry every night because of corruption, while the powerful and corrupt enjoy lavish lifestyles with impunity.”
When we fail to tackle corruption, people grow cynical as they face increasing poor social service delivery which have been undermined by misappropriation of funds and even when they try to confront cases of corruption, they come against official indifference. 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.
The Evaluation of UNDP’s Global Contribution to Anti-Corruption and Addressing Drivers of Corruption in January 2017, concluded that “Anti-corruption gains will remain limited if they are not combined with a wider set of initiatives aimed at improving the quality of governance institutions and processes overall” This is why today’s seminar which seeks to look at Corruption For Development, Peace And Security In The Context Of The Lesotho Constitutional Reforms Agenda, could not have come at a better time as the country prepares itself for a transformative constitutional, legal and institutional reforms.
Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen,
Research findings from the Policy Dialogue Day 2017 on “From Knowledge to Action: Current Insights on Democracy, Governance and Armed Conflict” held in Gothenburg, Sweden early this year, noted that, corruption is regarded as a cause of deteriorating governance as it directly challenges the fundamental principles of democratic governance, undermines the rule of law, amplifies discrimination and inequality, violates human rights and thus gradually undermines both the legitimacy of governance institutions and the trust that people have in these institutions.
Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen,
Preventing corruption calls for improving transparency and accountability of public institutions, enhancing access to public information and enabling broader participation in public decision-making and in the monitoring of budget implementation and service delivery. Various experts argue that there is a need to make concerted efforts to combat corruption by focusing on institutions, people and the environment in which corruption takes place. This requires a three-prong approach of :
- institutional strengthening focusing on those institutions best placed to promote and defend democratic governance values and principles: the public administration and local governments, the justice and security sector, human rights institutions, anti-corruption bodies, and political institutions (the parliament and the electoral commissions).
- a human agency approach focusing on empowering civil society organizations, media, youth and women groups; and
- a corruption risk assessment approach (assessing corruption risks in core sectors that are critical for human development and for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (health, education, water, justice and security, infrastructure and the environment)
It is in line with such an approach that UNDP supports the DCEO to conduct sectoral workshops in 2016 focusing on public, CSOs, judiciary and the private sectors We hope the sectorial workshop for the legislature will soon take place before the formal launching of the National Coalition Against Corruption (NCAC).
UNDP is committed to its long-standing collaboration with countries and partners in the fight against corruption In Lesotho we have worked with the DCEO in the past few years. Some you may recall that the UNDP and the Delegation of the European Union supported the DCEO to hold a National Dialogue on Corruption in August 2013, with over two hundred (250) stakeholders from all key sectors of society. This was the first multi-stakeholder dialogue on corruption and made recommendations to combat and eradicate corruption in Lesotho.
UNDP also provided financial and technical assistance to the DCEO in developing the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan (NACSAP) which was officially launched in early 2015.
Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen,
It is indeed gratifying to note that this year, the DCEO has begun implementing key priority areas of the NACSAP which include the formal launching of assets declaration by public office holders. The Rt. Honourable Prime Minister at the conclusion of the Cabinet Retreat in late August, promised to publicly declare his assets. Also during the delivery of the 2017/2018 Budget Speech, the Minister of Finance, indicated that arrangements were at an advanced stage for the declaration of assets by public officials. We commend the recent declaration of assets by some members of government and look forward to full compliance in the coming days. We commend the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offenses (DCEO) for their commitment in ensuring declaration of assets becomes a reality.
Anti-corruption will continue to be a high priority in UNDP’s new strategic plan and country programme, with an increased focus on a wider set of initiatives aimed at strengthening institutions and processes for the achievement of the SDGs. UNDP will also continue to lead by example, by ensuring the highest levels of transparency and accountability in its work– for two years in a row, the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) has rated UNDP as the most transparent development partner.
In his message marking the 2016 International Anti-Corruption Day, the former United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon called for t: reaffirmation of our commitment to ending the deceit and dishonesty that threaten the 2030 Agenda and our efforts to achieve peace and prosperity for all on a healthy planet."
I look forward to a very productive discussion, and to exploring how fighting corruption and strengthening institutions can contribute to the successful achievement of the SDGs in Lesotho.
Please allow me to conclude my remarks by reiterating the commitment of UNDP in supporting the reforming and strengthening of the capacities of governance and accountability institutions to enable them lead the transformation of Lesotho into a country where all Basotho can live and achieve their aspirations and collectively work to develop an inclusive and prosperous society where corruption, nepotism has no role.
Kea Leboha Haholo!
Khotso! Pula! Nala!