Overcoming the corruption conundrum in Africa : a socio-legal perspective
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Despite the avalanche of acade of academic literature penned by scholars of different backgrounds, a watertight definition of what is corruption is still absent. However, there is sufficient consensus that corruption can be construed as the misuse of state or public resources for private gain. Beyond dispute is the fact that corruption negatively affects socio-economic development; assaults democracy and human rights; the rule of law; good governance and widens the gap between the rich and the poor. Ultimately, it erodes peoples ' confidence in public institutions. Put simply, corruption is an invisible enemy amongst a people that needs to be combated and eliminated for socio-economic development; good governance and the rule of law to exist in any society. The impact of corruption on the African continent takes different scale and dimension due to some inherent weal legal and economic structures existent therein. As such, as compared to some Western States, corruption in Africa has devastating effects. Its prevalence is attributed to many reasons, some of which include frail anti-corruption instruments and institutions; lack of a political will in fighting corruption; the absence of democracy, good governance and the rule of law; and lastly, the entrenchment of corruption in the social fabric of the people who have elevated it to the logics of negotiations as well as modus operandi for anything to get done. This thesis explores the corruption conundrum on the African continent. It starts with a navigation of the different schools of thought on corruption, exploring the plethora of definitions postulated by different scholars and identifying common elements of corruption in their definitions. By taking a socio-legal perspective into the study of corruption in the African continent, it examines both the different sociological landscapes as well as legal platforms · across numerous African States and argues that corruption is practiced in almost every society in all African States, to which different names in their local languages are used. In addition, the thesis studies the various national anti-corruption legislative framework and institutional mechanisms put in place in selected African States. As argued in this thesis, the existence of national anti-corruption legislation and the establishment of institutional mechanisms to fight corruption are in themselves insufficient: these efforts must be complemented by the existence of a strong political will that propels these efforts, sets the national tone for the fight against corruption and lastly, engages the broader citizenry as well as other state institutions and organs in the fight against corruption. A snapshot of the perpetration of grand corruption on the African continent reveals that most of the resources stolen by senior state officials are surreptitiously transferred to foreign States, especially the West, which are seen as safe havens. In fact, numerous scandals have been documented in history where billions of liquid cash have been banked in the West by senior state officials who misappropriate public funds. In other instances, these senior state officials have acquired huge properties in these Western States. The misappropriation of public funds deprives a victim state of the resources needed to pursue socio-economic development. The depletion of resources marked for any developmental project means that such a project goes unexecuted or poorly implemented. In this regard, the fight against corruption in Africa cannot be waged by Africa alone. As argued in this thesis, there is the need for foreign governments to lend assistance to African States in their fight against corruption. This assistance may take different forms, and will ultimately require a strong political will from the governments involved. Foreign governments have a critical and priceless role to play in Africa's fight against corruption. As mentioned earlier, no society is immune to corruption: corruption occurs in every society across the world. However, as discussed in this thesis, of critical importance is the need to bring corruption to a leval that is manageable and tolerable with minimal instances of perpetration by the people. This is where Africa is entrenches in a battle as corruption is practices by senior state officials who engage in grand corruption and lower rank official as well as the ordinary people who have to pay a bribe or give a gift in order to have a service rendered. By taking a socio-legal perspective into the study of corruption in Africa, this thesis explores the trends in corruption as practices across Africa; the commonalities in these practices; how entrenched these practices are within African societies; and the legal mechanisms in place to combat corruption. The methodology adopted in conducting this research was purely qualitative as it was limited to describe the practices in place as well as interrogating the legislative framework and institutional mechanisms in place to fight corruption. At the conclusion of this research, specific findings were made: first, that no African society is immune to corruption. Second, almost every African State has an anti-corruption instrument in place, as well as an anti-corruption institution that has been established. Third, corruption has adverse impacts which are more devastating on the African continent due to its level of development, scarcity of resources and prevalence of a huge number of poor and underprivileged people. Fourth, stolen resources from African States are usually channeled secretly to non-African States where they are kept, this usually a challenge for law enforcement to detect, investigate and prosecute such perpetrators. Fifth, the perpetration of corruption deprives African States of the resources they need for socio-economicsdevelopment. Based on the following, this thesis argues and recommends that Africa's fight against corruption will require a strong political will in order to complement the existing legislative frameworks and institutional mechanisms. Without the requisite political will, national anti-corruption instruments and institutions will be ineffective, under-resourced, selective in operation and subjected to political pressure wielded by senior state official who misappropriate state funds. In addition to political will, it is also argued and recommended that foreign governments should play a key role in Africa's fight against corruption. The role of foreign governments in Africa's fight against corruption requires strict laws regulating financial institutions that receive assets from non-residents without interrogating their sources; the provision of mutual legal assistance by assisting law enforcement through the provision of information that will help in investigating such crimes, assisting in repatriating stolen assets; and also prosecuting legal and natural persons who are involved in the commission of corruption ( directly or indirectly).
- Law