On April 25 and 26, 2023, the Commonwealth Africa Anti-Corruption Centre (CAACC) hosted a symposium called “Play Your Part! Let’s Rid Africa of Corruption”. Sessions focused on individual responsibility to counter corruption, civil society engagement in the fight against corruption, the roles of civil society organizations (CSOs) and anti-corruption agencies (ACAs) in combating corruption, and information exchange on the collaborative experiences of ACAs and CSOs to prevent and address corruption.
On April 25th, Partnership for Transparency (PTF) ran a session on civil society engagement. PTF Management Team Member Aileen Marshall moderated the session and PTF Advisor Hady Fink provided technical support. PTF Board Member Richard Holloway gave a presentation on the different types of CSOs and how they can be useful to ACAs.
Next, there was a presentation on whistleblowers, whistleblower protection, and the roles of CSOs and ACAs by Louise Portas, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer with the Corruption and Economic Crime Branch of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. This was followed by an interactive discussion with the participants.
The session culminated with a video of CSO perspectives from Ghana, Uganda, and Zambia, which was moderated by PTF Europe Member Ina-Marlene Ruthenberg. Many thanks to Siapha Kamara, CEO, SEND West Africa; Doreen Nalunkuma, Program Officer, Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda; and Maurice Nyambe, Executive Director, Transparency International Zambia for their insightful comments.
Key take-aways from the session are that CSOs and ACAs share a lot of common ground as both are concerned about improving development outcomes for citizens and much can be gained by more effective collaboration. In most instances, there is a confidence gap between CSOs and ACAs that needs to be bridged. Although, in several cases, ongoing collaboration, which is sometimes formalized through MOUs, is yielding productive results. There is willingness on the part of CSOs and ACAs to work together and share information, with CSOs acting as a connection to local communities and a channel for two-way flows of information. In particular, anti-corruption efforts need to reach disadvantaged communities and be gender-sensitive, given that women are often disproportionally affected by corruption. In addition, protection of whistleblowers is essential.
Greater collaboration between ACAs and CSOs could raise community awareness of the work of ACAs, build understanding and bridge differences between ACAs and citizens, help change public perceptions, foster trust, increase advocacy for anti-corruption, maximize use of scarce resources, and help establish effective anti-corruption coalitions.
UNODC provides knowledge resources and technical assistance to institute effective whistleblower provisions and protections. PTF is available to work with CSOs and ACAs on collaboration and coalition building.