Editorial: The OAU ended apartheid; can AU do the same with corruption?

Today is Africa Day in honour of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) success in fighting colonialism and Apartheid. It is also its 55th anniversary. The OAU could be blamed for not attaining its main objective – Unity - but the predecessor of the African Union (AU) at least had some achievements it should be proud of today.

Most African countries received their independence on a platter, but for those who had to fight for it, they found solace and support from the former, be it political, military or diplomatic.

 

Tanzania and Zambia took the lead in the creation of what was then known as the “Frontline States” that was committed to ending apartheid in South Africa and Rhodesia (present day Zimbabwe).

 

But as self-determination began to take root, many countries had to contend with a new threat that many were not ready to confront; corruption.

 

This year, the AU has made tackling the vice one of its priorities and this year’s theme is: “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”.

It is estimated that the continent loses between US$100 billion and 150 billion a year through corruption, most of it the handiwork of powerful multinational firms who have perfected the art of stoking the greed of some African leaders.

But as Africa embarks on its transformational agenda, nothing will come of it if fighting corruption remains mere rhetoric, when impunity and lack of accountability reign supreme.  Multinationals should not be allowed to continue buying silence as proceeds from the continent’s resources are spirited away to offshore accounts.

The OAU succeeded in fighting for independence, and it is now time for the AU to leave its indelible mark by genuinely taking up arms and fighting corruption.

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