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Anti-Corruption Leaders in Africa Meet to Promote Integrity in Government Spending

June 10, 2010

WASHINGTON, June 10, 2010— Some 85 leaders in Africa’s fight against corruption met in Johannesburg in April to share knowledge and experiences about the design of structures and practices that promote accountability and integrity in government spending.

Co-sponsored by the African Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions-Anglophone Countries (AFROSAI-E) and the World Bank, the meeting of minds brought together key public oversight officials and leaders of anticorruption organizations from 17 African countries. Regional organizations and development groups also participated.

Demonstrate “integrity as a set of values and beliefs that constitutes a higher code of personal or inherent probity, going beyond legal prescripts,” outgoing Chair of the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption, and former Speaker of the Parliament of South Africa, Frene Ginwala told participants.

Ginwala cited “major accountability and integrity issues in Africa” and said the political class and civil society (religious leaders, NGOs, media, private sector) bear equal responsibility for current standards of behaviour in public spending.

Terence Nombembe, Auditor General of South Africa and current head of AFROSAI, emphasized the need for African oversight agencies, especially auditors-general, to develop and implement high professional standards for financial management, accounting, and audit.

During the workshop, participants denounced the global perception that African governments care little for accountability and integrity in the management of public money. They cited evidence that in many places the fight against wasteful public spending and corruption is being led from within by dedicated public officials, not by donors.

The group acknowledged the perils of their position: many face political pressure, and some have encountered threats of removal from office, or harm to themselves and their families.

They also shared examples of successful, adaptable measures to strengthen parliamentary oversight committees, auditors general, and anticorruption agencies, and adopted a set of resolutions reflecting these lessons.

“We encouraged participants from the same countries to sit together at the end of the workshop and identify a few good practices they would undertake to implement in their own country,” Renaud Seligmann, Senior Financial Management Specialist at the World Bank, said of he and his colleague Ivor Beazley. “We will share these commitments with the Bank’s country teams in Africa and support their implementation going forward.”

The Bank, and its development partners, accord high priority to supporting African countries in strengthening their financial management and oversight systems, according to Tony Hegarty, the Bank’s Chief Financial Officer, who attended the Johannesburg workshop. Some of the instruments deployed by the Bank and its partners include the identification and dissemination of good practices in accountability, as well as technical assistance and funding to implement them.