United against corruption for development, peace and security

08 December 2017- In commemoration of the 2017 International Anti-Corruption Day, the Public Service Commission, University of South Africa (UNISA) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) jointly held a day event at UNISA in Pretoria. International Anti-Corruption Day is commemorated annually on 09 December in recognition of the United Nations Convention against Corruption which was signed in Mexico in 2003.  South Africa became party to the convention in 2004.


The theme for the 2017 event was "Initial Financial Flows in Africa and its impact on Development" and provided an opportunity for government, civil society, business, media, and legal bodies to discuss progress made. Whilst illicit financial flows is a global problem, its impact on the African continent is large and represents a significant threat to Africa's governance and economic development.  Although Africa is a global net creditor, despite the receipt of official development assistance, the continent continues to suffer from insufficient resources for development.   The level of external illicit financial flows need to be curbed to allow for needed development resources to remain within the continent, enabling countries to invest in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015.

In her address, Ms Zhuldyz Akisheva, Regional Representative of UNODC Southern Africa highlighted the magnitude of the global impact of illicit financial flows stating " Every year, one trillion dollars is paid in bribes, while an estimated 2.6 trillion is stolen annually through corruption and a sum equivalent to more than five percent of the global GDP." Ms. Akisheva also read UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov's statement, which concluded that "anti-corruption partnerships formed with the private sector, civil society and academia can ensure that everyone is united in ending corruption. We must also be innovative and creative in ensuring that corruption remains high on the world's agenda."

Dr. A Hamdoc, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) also explored megatrends affecting the development world in his keynote address, which impact on the emergence of illicit financial flows. These included fractured and fragmented globalisation, global gross prospects as well as global partnerships for standing governments. Within Africa, he described illicit financial flows as "…a substantial financial trend in the continent, which reduce the ability to make the investment needed in communication, health, science, technology and infrastructure." He went on to say "Ill icit financial flows from Africa are large and raising […] from 20 billion annually in 2001 to 60 billion around 2010 […] The estimated amount of flows have since then risen to that current estimate amounted to around 100 billion, annually."  The latter reflects statistics from 2015 and represents around 4% of the continent's GDP in that year.  Dr. Hamdoc also highlighted the importance of the adoption of the ECA's High Level Panel recommendations by the African Union as a move to carry forward African positions on curtailing illicit financial flows.

The afternoon session consisted of a panel discussion with experts from the South African Competition Commission, the South African Reserve Bank, National Treasury and UNODC. The panel members provided important insight into various aspects of Illicit Financial Flows within Southern Africa, including the investigation of cartels, tax and financial sector policy as well as profits of organised crime. In linking the magnitude of illicit financial flows from wider global problem to one affecting Southern Africa, Mr Fitz-Roy Drayton from UNODC, discussed the new "Southern Route" of the heroin trade, originating in Afghanistan, moving across the Indian Ocean to the Swahili Coast.  The second phase of the route is now bringing it to Southern Africa as a transit point to European and other global and domestic markets for distribution.

Whilst the event marked Anti-Corruption Day, it was an important opportunity for professional bodies to explain what steps have been taken, to date, in fighting corruption within South Africa. It was therefore evident that although progress has been made, continued action should be implemented as all of us have a stake in creating a corruption-free country towards ensuring a brighter future. This also echoed Ms. F Muthambi, Minister for Public Service and Administration, who called for all to "…play our part, don't stand in the corner, also participate in the processes so that we can make South Africa a better place to live in."