The African Union Advisory Board Against Corruption (AUABC) has tasked member states of the AU on the efficacious deployment of funds meant for response to and mitigation of the impact of Covid-19 pandemic, as part of efforts to improve transparency and accountability measures during emergencies.
The AU organ made this call during the 6th Annual African Anti-Corruption Dialogue which held virtually on Monday under the theme: “Strategies and mechanisms for the transparent management of Covid-19 funds”. The Advisory Board decries the spate of mismanagement of the pandemic funds through theft, fraud and wastage which continues to have negative effect on African economies, irrespective of their level of recovery from the pandemic.
Stakeholders at the 2022 dialogue, namely representatives of member states, international organizations, anti-corruption agencies, civil society, and the academia, stressed the significance of accountability and transparency in the management of funds during emergencies and crises, highlighting the experiences, challenges and best practices of responding to crises and emergencies, particularly the Covid-19 pandemic.
In her remarks, Ms Charity H. Nchimunya, Executive Secretary of AUABC, described the theme of this year’s anti-corruption dialogue as pertinent, considering the fact that the world was still recovering from the impacts of Covid-19 pandemic, adding that the Advisory Board had been been amplifying the negative impacts of the mismanagement of funds earmarked for responding to the virus and mitigating its negative impacts.
“As the continent recovers from the pandemic we want you to share strategies for member states to strengthen mechanisms for efficient utilization of funds meant for responding to and mitigating the impact of Covid-19 as well as learn lessons to inform recovery efforts of future emergencies,” Ms Nchimunya told the participants.
“Management of pandemics such as Covid-19 requires transparency and vigilance, if loopholes are exploited the effects of the pandemic get worsened and citizens suffer more. Let’s explore and reflect on lessons as well as best practices for mitigating the pandemic’s negative impact across the continent.”
As part of this year’s anti-corruption dialogue, a continental study of lessons learnt in the management and audit of Covid-19 pandemic funds in Africa as well as a Covid-19 transparency portal were launched. A panel discussion highlighted the diverse experiences of African countries auditing their Covid pandemic funds.
The major challenges recorded by countries in the management and audit of the pandemic funds were weak budgetary and public financial management systems, abuse of emergency procurement processes, opacity of Covid-19 funds management as well as weak involvement of civil society in auditing pandemic funds.
Among others, recommendations made by participants at the dialogue were the need for a continental, regional and national frameworks for the management and audit of the pandemic funds as well as the strengthening of supreme audit institutions of member states for a pandemic response while reinforcing evaluation and learning systems in the management of the funds.
Moreover, participants believed a thorough citizens engagement mechanism will strengthen and deepen the capacity of National Anti-Corruption Agencies (NACAs) to prevent and combat corruption in the value chain of the Covid-19 funds.
It would be recalled that AUABC had earlier in 2022 commemorated the African Anti-Corruption Day under the same theme as the 6th edition of the Africa Anti-Corruption Dialogue. This was to emphasize the need for AU member states to put in place stringent measures and mechanisms for the management of Covid-19 funds so as to ensure transparency and accountability in the process.
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