Liberian Author and Diplomat Gabriel I. H. Williams Publishes 2nd Book

ROCKVILLE, Md. – From the author of “Liberia: The Heart of Darkness” comes a new account exposing how “Corruption is Destroying Africa: The Case of Liberia” (published by Trafford Publishing). In his latest book release, Gabriel I.H. Williams narrates the prevailing reality in his home country Liberia, and in Africa as a whole, where corruption has become a major hindrance to national and continental progress.

Author and Diplomat Mr. Gabriel I.H. Williams
Author and Diplomat Mr. Gabriel I.H. Williams

Williams writes that the book is intended to contribute to the ongoing discourse about Liberia or about Africa, which has often left people perplexed. According to a 2013 World Bank report, Africa has 30% of the world’s minerals and proven oil reserves equivalent to 10% of global stock. How is it that Africa, which has such enormous mineral and oil wealth, is the poorest continent in the world?

The author also notes that a similar question would suffice for Liberia, which became independent since 1847, has been a sovereign nation for over 170 years but is ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world. This is irrespective of the fact that the country is endowed with abundant natural resources. Accordingly, Williams herewith submit that Africa or Liberia is not poor but poorly managed, and that corruption is a major source of bad governance, widespread poverty and instability on the continent.

“There can be no question that corruption is like a cancer eating at the vitals of Africa, my beloved country Liberia being one of the worst affected on the continent. This is why this book is titled, ‘Corruption is Destroying Africa: The Case of Liberia,’” he asserts. “Because of corruption, critical public services such as health and education have remained in a state of dysfunction.”

Country Map of Africa
Country Map of Africa

According to Williams, the book is penned “To contribute to the ongoing discourse regarding measures that are needed to contain corruption and other acts of bad governance that have caused instability, poverty and underdevelopment in Africa and my home-country Liberia.” Through this, he urges for the proper management of Africa’s resources in order to improve the conditions of its people.

The book is a strong call for Africa’s natural resources to have value added, and to empower Africans through education, skills training and equal employment opportunities. Ultimately, the book relates to the prevailing reality of life affecting Africans and people of African descent.

“Corruption is Destroying Africa: The Case of Liberia”

By Gabriel I.H. Williams

Softcover | 8.5 x 11in | 358 pages | ISBN 9781490795713

E-Book | 358 pages | ISBN 9781490795706

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Gabriel I.H. Williams is a diplomat and former deputy minister of information in the government of Liberia. A career journalist, he has worked with several news organizations in Liberia and the United States as a reporter and editor, including serving as managing editor of The Inquirer independent newspaper in Liberia, and staff writer of The Sacramento Observer Newspapers in Sacramento, California.

Liberia: Massive Turnout To Welcome Protest Leader & TalkShow Host

Thousands of supporters, on Thursday, May 16, 2019 came out to welcome the man who is seen by many including the government of Liberia as the “instigator” of the much publicized June 7 protest. 

Supporters Of Liberian Talkshow Host Henry P. Costa

According to our correspondent in Monrovia, the Liberian popular talk show host and political commentator, Henry Pedro Costa returned to Liberia from the United States of America to join his colleagues to lead the June 7 protest in demand of change. Many supporters who spoke to West Africa Journal Magazine said, they came out in solidarity with the planned June 7 protest. 

Speaking to our Monrovia Correspondent, scores of supporters, mostly young men and women said, their courage to welcome Henry Costa is driven by what they term as the “unprecedented economic hardship” being experienced under the George Weah government. 

Banner Carrying Supporters of Henry P. Costa

A motorcyclist who identified himself as Nathaniel said he parked his commercial motorcycle only to come and welcome the man he called his hero. According to him, his motivation to stand in the hot sun for hours waiting for one man is based on the message that he (Costa) preaches on the radio about corruption. 

“I am motivated to stand in the Hot sun because Costa is the voice of the voiceless”, said Nathaniel. 

He told our reporter that he will be part of the June 7 protest, and called on other well-meaning Liberians to join what he termed a campaign for “emancipation of the poor people.”

Chelsea William, a lady who joined the welcoming crowd from the Monrovia suburb of Chocolate City told President Weah to see the momentum of Costa’s arrival as a clear message.

“George Weah must see this as a message for our desire for change”, she intoned. According to Ms. William, she was tired of the difficulties and would appreciate if President George Weah could see reason to resign if he is not capable of leading the country. 

Young Liberians Welcoming Henry P. Costa

Bystanders who trooped in from their various quarters were heard describing the crowd as a prelude to June 7 protest. The arrival of Costa was characterized by parade from just outside of the city center In Sinkor to Central Monrovia where he addressed crowds of supporters.

Political spectators described the euphoria surrounding the welcome of a “common” talk show host as a display of frustration by the young people who are said to be feeling the difficulties associated with the country’s economy. 

By Paul Kanneh In Monrovia

West African Journal Magazine

Government of Liberia Failing To Support Fight Against Corruption, LACC Says

Monrovia, Liberia – February 18, 2019: The fight against public corruption in the West African country of Liberia appears to be a losing exercise in addition to lackluster support from the George M. Weah Administration. 

Liberian President George M. Weah – File Photo
Since it’s inauguration over a year ago,  no public official has been prosecuted nor convicted of graft by the Administration.  The Liberian Government’s pronouncement of fighting corruption in public service has not been matched with concrete support and funding. 
Embarrassing National financial scandals including the alleged “missing 16 billion dollars” from the Central  Bank of Liberia (CBL) and the bribery and extortion saga at the National Housing Authority (NHA) involving the former head take top manifestations of pervasive graft which are yet to be checkmated by government. 
Transparency International (TI) defines corruption as, “…the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It can be classified as grand, petty and political, depending on the amounts of money lost and the sector where it occurs.”
In spite of his call to his own underlings to comply with law and declare their personal assets, President Weah has yet to hold his officials accountable for their failure to do so.  Citizens of the poor West African country are yet to receive confirmation of public officials complying with the law.

LACC James Verdier

According to the country’s Anti Corruption Agency (LACC), “The government of Liberia printed into handbill on June 20, 2014, “An Act of Legislature Prescribing a National Code of Conduct for All Public Officials and Employees of the Government of The Republic of Liberia” in line with the 1986 constitutional requirement to curb certain vices which are inimical to the economic and social wellbeing of our common patrimony. Specifically, Article 90 a) & b) of the Constitution highlight those vices while article 90 c) quoted below echoes the antidote to eradicating them: Article 90 c) “The Legislature shall, in pursuance of the above provision, prescribe a Code of Conduct for all public officials and employees, stipulating the acts which constitutes conflict of interest or are against public policy, and the penalties for violation thereof.”  The legislation of a national code of conduct after twenty-eight years, since the coming into force of the Liberian constitution, finally created a legal framework through which the conducts of public officials could be monitored, examined and punished in relation to the use and management of public resources. In Part 10, of the Code of Conduct, it is required that every Public Official and Employee of government involved in making decisions affecting contracting, tendering or procurement, and issuance of licenses of various types sign performance or financial bonds and in addition declare his or her income, assets and liabilities prior to taking office and thereafter:

  1. At the end of every three years;
  2. On promotion or progression from one level to another;
  3. Upon transfer to another public office; and
  4. Upon retirement resignation.”
President Weah’s own asset declaration was held behind closed doors and sealed after; a clear failure to be a transparent example. Public officials have openly ignored the asset declaration law and the President. 
“Corruption corrodes the fabric of society. It undermines people’s trust in political and economic systems, institutions and leaders. It can cost people their freedom, health, money – and sometimes their lives,” TI says of the cost of corruption. 
The LACC’s Investigations of alleged acts of corruption  by public officials or recommendations to the Justice Ministry are oftentimes never started, aborted and abandoned; and where cases are prosecuted, lost in court. 
Recently, the head of Liberia’s anti graft agency James Verdier, in an interview with a Radio France International, and in a rather bold move, accused the Weah Administration of “undermining ” the fight against corruption. 
“ The experience we’ve had in the first half is a bit terrible because we’ve not had funding. We have actually struggled to actually have this Administration put its stamp behind the stamp of corruption and make some bold statements regarding transparency, accountability and ensuring that we can fight corruption.”
In less than a year and while there has been no public disclosure of his assets, President Weah is facing scrutiny and questions over his massive construction of houses in a poor country. 
The country which emerged in 2005 from back-to-back wars in the 1990s is struggling to attract and retain critically needed foreign investors and resources to jumpstart the flailing economy. 
 In 1980, a violent coup d’etat carried out by non-commissioned soldiers was sold as a radical solution to address “rampant” corruption. The civilian President William R. Tolbert was murdered by soldiers led by former junta head and former President Samuel K. Doe.
Flag of Liberia
Nine years later, another charge of runaway “corruption” was laid as the basis for a rebel insurgency against the Doe Government. The war which quickly devolved into an ethnic conflagration was prosecuted by former rebel turned former a President Charles G. Taylor who was eventually forced out of power by rebels opposed to his government and pressure from the international community. 
Taylor is a convicted war criminal serving out his fifty year sentence in prison in the UK.  
An estimated 250,000 people lost their lives and nearly 1 million others were displaced internally and externally. 
The NHA extortion scandal is still pending prosecution after the accused posted bond and were released. Unconfirmed reports, however, say the suspects have jumped bail and have either fled the country or cannot be found. 
During his State of the Nation Address to lawmakers and citizens on January 28, 2019, President Weah disclosed that the Investigation Report on the “missing billions” will be released by USAID by the end of February, 2019.
 “If it is established that there has been any willful act of criminality, negligence, or malfeasance by anyone implicated in the reports, the full weight of the law will be brought to bear”, President Weah warned.  
Transparency International
Just prior to the inauguration of the Weah Administration in January, 2018 Transparency International (TI), the global organization leading the fight against corruption, advanced several recommendations to the Congress For Democratic Change (CDC) led government to tackle endemic corruption and included the following:
1. Ensure the independence of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and give it direct prosecutorial power to quickly investigate and prosecute corruption cases.
2. Establish specialised anti-corruption courts for prosecuting corruption without delays.
3. Enact a Corrupt Offences Act to clearly define and provide sanctions for various forms of corruption.
4. Enact a Whistleblower Protection Law to encourage more Liberians to freely report acts of corruption and other integrity-related issues.
5. Require all public officials, including the president, to declare their assets, irrespective of their positions or connections to superiors in government. The government must independently verify and publish these declarations of assets.
5. Review and impartially implement reports and recommendations by integrity institutions in a timely manner, and establish dedicated committees and bodies for investigating fraud and other forms of corruption.
6. Audit the legislature just like any other branch of government or institution that receives public funds. The 52nd and 53rd legislatures in particular should be audited and any recommendations from the audit report fully implemented and
7. Increase financial support to integrity institutions and enable them to properly function.
A year later, the Weah Administration is still delinquent in the adoption and implementation of TI’s recommendations. 
IJG Principal Deputy Executive Director Luigi Spera
Last September, the International Justice Group (IJG) announced that it was putting in place a mechanism to ensure that all those in Liberia accused of war and economic crimes, money laundering etc. will be exposed to the international justice system for tough punitive actions, including asset tracking and confiscation, international arrests, trial, and imprisonment if prosecuted and found guilty.
By Our Economic Editor With Contribution From Our Justice Correspondent In Monrovia
West African Journal Magazine

Transparency International Corruption Report: MRU Countries At Bottom Of Assessment

West Africa- January 30, 2019: The 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 180 countries worldwide, including those of the Mano River Union (MRU) sub-regional economic grouping in West Africa have been released by Transparency International (TI).

Pres Alassane Ouatarra of Cote d' Ivoire
Pres Alassane Ouatarra of Cote d’ Ivoire

Cote ‘Ivoire showed relatively highest among the four countries with a CPI of 35 and a global score of 105. Although in comparison to other countries in the MRU, Cote d’Ivoire remained higher, it dropped 1 base point from the prior year. Nine sources were used to determine the CPI of Cote d’Ivoire and consist of the African Development CPIA, Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index, Economist Intelligence Unit Country Ratings, Global Insight Country Risk Ratings, PRS International Country Risk Guide, World Bank CPIA, World Economic Forum EOS, World Justice Project Rule of Law Index and Varieties of Democracy Project.

Liberian President George M. Weah
Liberian President George M. Weah

Next is Liberia whose CPI rose to 32 – an improvement of 1 base point over the prior year using eight sources including African Development Bank CPIA, Bertelsman Foundation Transformation Index, Global Insight Country Risk Ratings, PRS International Country Risk Guide, World Bank CPIA, World Economic Forum EOS, World Justice Rule of Law Index and Varieties of Democracy Project. Liberia’s global ranking is reported at 120.

President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone
President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone’s CPI was reported at 30 with no change from the prior year. Based on the assessment of nine sources including African Development Bank, Bertelsman Foundation Transformation Index, Economist Intelligence Unit Country Ratings, Global Insight Country Risk Ratings, PRS International Country Risk Guide, World Bank CPIA, World Economic Forum EOS, World Justice Project Rule Index and Varieties of Democracy Projects . The global ranking of Sierra Leone is 129.

Guinean President Alpha CondeAt the bottom of the list is Guinea which came in with a CPI of 28 – improving 1 base point from 2017. Six sources were considered for its score and include the African Development Bank CPIA, Bertelsman Foundation Transformation Index, Global Insight Country Risk Ratings, PRS International Country Risk Guide, World Bank CPIA and Varieties of Democracy Projects.

According to TI, “ Since its inception in 1995, the Corruption Perception Index, Transparency International’s flagship research product, has become the leading global indicator of public sector corruption. The index offers and annual snapshot of the relative degree of corruption by ranking countries and territories from all over the globe. In 2012, Transparency International revised the methodology used to construct the index to allow for comparison of score from year to the next…”

Map of West AfricaIn his assessment of the report, Mr. James T. Fiske, a Liberian medical professional who is currently in his doctoral nursing residency at Arizona University told the West African Journal Magazine that, “ To improve corruption perception requires transforming the conditions that create those perceptions. In other words, the impression that Africa and African countries are poor is a fallacy that should be replaced by a more realistic appraisal of what is occurring. That is, African countries are not poor but extremely mismanaged! I call this the paradox of poverty. African governing class do not hold themselves or are being held accountable for making sure that the variables that make the current rich environments that persist in many African countries work for the betterment of its people. No one fought to decolonize Africa but Africans and no one will transform the wealth of Africa for Africans, but Africans. There is no third world, but one world divided between one group of people who hold themselves accountable for their development (developed nations) and those waiting for others to do it for them (underdeveloped countries).”

A social media commentator and political analyst in Monrovia Mr. Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei, in his analysis of the TI report noted that, “MRU countries must build institutions and enforced institutional rules to constrain regulate the behavior of public officials. Fighting corruption has been a campaign pledge of every contemporary African politician but they always fail to build the necessary institutions to support them in fighting corruption, some of them end up witch hunting. To improve their CPI scores they must govern according to the law, deliver services with transparency and hold people accountable for their actions.

Globally, Denmark and New Zealand scored a CPI of 87.The 2018 CPI draws on surveys and expert assessments to measure public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories, giving each a score from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

“Corruption chips away at democracy to produce a vicious cycle, where corruption undermines democratic institutions and, in turn, weak institutions are less able to control corruption,” Patricia Moreira, Managing Director of Transparency International says.

Public corruption in the West African sub-region and across the continent harms democracy and national growth and governance.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

Liberia: Local Insurance Company Complains of Harassment to President Weah

Monrovia, Liberia West Africa – December 14, 2018: A local insurance company in Liberia has complained to the office of the President about what it refers to as “…the consistent harassment of our Company and members of the public Automobile Insurance by our Company by the Minister of Transports Hon. Samuel Wlue…”

Transport Minister Samuel Wlue
Transport Minister Samuel Wlue

According to a letter dated December 3, 2018, a copy of which is in possession of the West African Journal Magazine, and addressed to the Office of the Liberian leader, the Omega Insurance Company, through its Executive Director Mr. Charles Ananaba, said the Liberian Minister of Transport Mr. Wlue “…unauthorizedly used his office to print Insurance stickers that are properties of the Insurance Association of Liberia; moreover, he has compelled members of the Association to sell such stickers on his behalf…”

The Omega Insurance Company further informed the Office of the Liberian President Mr. George M. Weah that the action of the Transport Minister was in contravention of a Stay Order issued last July by Judge Eva Mappy, Chief Judge of the Commercial Court  of Liberia.

According to the Writ of Preliminary Injunction issued against the Transport Ministry, the Association of Insurers in Liberia and the Liberian National Police in the matter in August, 2018, it said, “You are hereby commanded to restrain and enjoin the Respondents herein from further in inspection of all moto vehicles plying the roadways within the Republic of Liberia for insurance stickers and until further directive from this court…”

“It is not only difficult to operate normal business as a major tax paper under such circumstances where the Transport Minister disrespects the Tax Law, Vehicle and Traffic Law, and Court Order; but the actions of the Honorable Minister is contrary to declaration made by the President That Liberia is open for business and Liberians will no longer be spectators in their own company…” the Liberian owned insurance company complained.

It is unclear how much revenue to date has been generated from the unilateral and illegal action of the Liberian Transport Minister. There has been no official statement or response to the complaint from Omega Insurance Company.

Liberia’s economy is at present struggling to attract international investors due to anumber of factors including weak financial institutions, lack of basic infrastructure, lack of tehnical capacity and skilled labor and endemic corruption which is pervasive in all sectors.

The Liberian economy which is market based depends largely on the country’s natural resources whose prices have been negatively impacted by global slumps. The small West African nation now is is also largely dependent on direct foreign aid and some Diaspora remittances.

According to its statistics on Doing Business in Liberia, the website Trading Economics reports that “ Liberia is ranked 174 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings. The rank of Liberia deteriorated to 174 in 2018 from 172 in 2017. Ease of Doing Business in Liberia averaged 161.91 from 2008 until 2018, reaching an all-time high of 180 in 2014 and a record low of 144 in 2013…”

The disclosure of illegal actions by a senior Liberian government official and contravention of a Court Order in this matter impacts the country’s ability to attract investors who view the lack of rule of law as a major negative factor.

Corruption

The most recent disclosure of bribery extortion by Liberian government officials broke at the National Housing Authority (NHA) and involved a business from Burkina Faso, West Africa.

Top officials of the NHA including its Managing Director and his Deputy have been suspended and are pending prosecution. Other officials named in the case have denied any knowledge or participation in the scheme. Investigation is still ongoing into the missing “$16 billon Liberian dollars and which went missing from the Central Bank. There have been conflicting accounts from the Liberian government as to what happened to the money. At disclosure of the missing $16 billion LD, Liberian staged a peaceful protest to demand the return of the money

Forensic auditors from the US are assisting with the investigation and a report is due out soon.

Finance and Planning Minister Samuel Tweah
Finance and Planning Minister Samuel Tweah

Additionally, the Liberian government has yet to adequately explain the process of how it said it infused $25 million USD into the local economy to cleanup excess local currency and shore up the country’s economy.

The explanation by the country’s Finance and Planning Minister Samuel Tweah that local, un-named and unregulated money exchangers were used by Government to infuse money into the economy has drawn sharp outcry from ordinary Liberians who are bearing the brunt of the persistent economic downturn. .

The political leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC) Mr. Alexander B. Cummings Jr. recently told a local radio station that Liberians need to be concerned about the direction of the country. He cited the “hard times” ordinary Liberians were experiencing.

According to data seen, “Liberia scored 31 points out of 100 on the 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International. Corruption Index in Liberia averaged 32 Points from 2005 until 2017, reaching an all-time high of 41 Points in 2012 and a record low of 21 Points in 2007.

(The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. A country or territory’s score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

US Grant

Meantime, on Thursday, December 13, 2018, Liberia and the United States signed a US $112 million dollars grant agreement through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the 2018 fiscal year.  President Weah and US Ambassador Christine Elder, according to the State House press statement, affirmed their countries “ commitment to work together to institute policy reforms for broad-based private sector led, more effective and accountable governance and improved health and education for Liberia..”

President Weah and his government say they see reforms as critical to successfully moving Liberia on its journey to self-reliance, the Executive Mansion in Monrovia said.

Omega Insurance Letter and Court Injunction

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal

Liberia: Protesters Set To March For “Missing Billions” On Monday

It now appears it is all but certain that a peaceful protest of Liberians will take place on Monday, September 24 in the capital Monrovia.

Liberia’s Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean

Organizers say that they have held meetings with representatives of the Government to finalize details of the peaceful march to demand accountability for the “missing billions” from the country’s central bank.

A Press Statement from the Ministry of Justice all but confirmed the protest march by citizens and asked residents to go about their normal business on Monday.

The Government, in its release, also advised protesters to “…comport themselves within the confines of the law.”

March organizers say their protest will be peaceful and that they intend to deliver their petition to the local offices of the UN, the EU and the US diplomatic mission in Monrovia.

A former bank Governor Milton Weeks last week denied any knowledge of the missing local currency and says he’s committed to cooperating with Liberian authorities in the investigation of the matter.

The Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) has, meanwhile, confirmed that certain documents have been requested by the investigation team and include, Financial Audited Statements dated December 31, 2016, December 31, 2017 and January 1, 2018 from the Bank’s Ghana based external auditors KPMG, Bank vault local and foreign currency cash balances from January 1, 2018 to present and Liberian Government’s foreign reserve balance held with the Federal Reserve Band of New York since January 1, 2018 to present.

The Central Bank, in a recent undated Press Statement signed by its Governor Nathaniel R. Patray III, said it is fulfilling responsibilities by working with the Investigation team with verification of accounts.

President George M. Weah of Liberia

Shortly before departing Liberia on last Friday to attend the UN General Assembly in New York, he said in a statement, “I asked all citizens to be patient and those involved in the investigation to be corporative. I am confident that in the end, we will come to a logical conclusion into the circumstances surrounding this money and if anyone is caught in any financial malfeasance they will be held accountable to the full extent. I can assure you, my fellow Liberians, proper accountability of the money in question is vital to my government’s ability to improve your lives.

As we accelerate our investigation to which I have invited international partners to join in advising us to ensure transparency. Let’s us remain calm and have faith in the process.

I believe that the mandate I received from you is a mandate to end corruption in public service and I remain fully committed to this task. I promise to deliver on this mandate and I will not let you down.”

The President’s statement did little to assuage angry citizens who say their peaceful protest on Monday is intended to send a “loud message” to demand full accountability for the missing money.

Meantime, President Weah is scheduled to address the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, his first since becoming President of the small West African country in January.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

Transparency Intl (TI) Urges Robust Mining Approval Process to Mitigate Corruption

Philadelphia, PA USA – Transparency International (TI), an organization dedicated to the global coalition against corruption, in a just released report entitled Combatting Corruption in Mining Approvals: Assessing the Risks in 18 Resource-Rich Nations  details how corruption can get a foothold in mining approvals processes before ground is even broken.

Mining
Mining

TI defines corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain” and furthers adds that this  recognizes that all actors in the mining approvals process – not just government officials-have the potential to engage in corrupt conduct.

TI, in its report, also listed examples from a range of diverse countries and identities including some in Africa, important roles for government, the mining industry and civil society to identify, prevent and mitigate these risks.

In order to understand  and identify the corruption risks in the mining sector of the countries examined, TI urged the following questions be asked:

  1. Who benefits from mining approval decisions?
  2. How ethical and fair is the process for opening land to mining?
  3. How fair and transparent is the licensing process?
  4. Who get the right to mine?
  5. How accountable are companies for their environmental and social impacts and
  6. How meaning is community consultations?  The 102 page report, TI utilized what it refers to as the Mining Award Corruption Risk Assessment (MACRA) tool which undertakes a rigorous and consistent approach to identifying and assessing corruption risks in various contexts.
  7. The steps in the tool include:
  8. Defining the assessment
  9. Mapping the approvals process and practice and identifying vulnerabilities
  10. Analyzing the approvals context and identifying vulnerabilities
  11. Determining priority corruption risks for action and
  12. Assessing corruption risks and validation of the assessment.

The TI  report details the top seven risks from the MACRA tool and standings of some African countries which undertook risk assessments.

  1. What is the risk that community leaders negotiating with a mining company will not represent community members’ interest? Kenya, South African and Zimbabwe were listed a “very high” in the report.
  2. What is the risk that mining laws have been, or will be, if reform is planned, written to favor private interests before the public interest? Zimbabwe was listed as “very high” while Liberia was assessed as part of a group of risks.
  3. Assuming consultation with communities or land holders is required, what is the risk that negotiations for landholders or community agreements can be manipulated? Kenya and Sierra Leone were listed as “very high”.
  4. What is the risk that criteria for awarding licenses, etc will not be publicly knowable? Kenya, South Africa and Sierra Leone were listed as “very high”.
  5. What is the risk that applicants for licenses, etc will be controlled by undeclared beneficial owners? Zambia and Zimbabwe were rated as “very high” while Kenya was assessed as part of a group of risks.
  6. What is the risk that, in practice, that there is no due diligence on applicants claims regarding their capacity and financial resources? Kenya, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe were listed as “very high”.

TI is urging governments, civil society and industries around the world to ask the following questions in their own countries, utilize their own examples and context to better understand the risks in their own context to building corruption- free mining processes.

 

Political and administrative context 1. Who benefits from mining approval decisions? Corruption is more likely to occur when:

  1. Regulations on political donations and lobbying are weak
  2. The real owners or beneficiaries of licence applicants are not disclosed
  3. Senior public officials don’t declare assets or interests in mining companies
  4. Controls on revolving doors are inadequate
Land allocation 2. How ethical and fair is the process for opening land to mining? Corruption is more likely to occur when:

  1. Land rights are poorly protected and not properly registered
  2. Rules and criteria for opening land to mining are not clear or transparent
  3. Register of land rights is incomplete or uncoordinated with other land use registers
Mining licence application and approval 3. How fair and transparent is the licencing process? Corruption is more likely to occur when:

  1. Steps in the licencing process are unclear
  2. Information in the licence register is missing or not publicly available
  3. The licencing authority is under-resourced
  4. Decision-making criteria are unclear or decisions are vulnerable to ministerial interference
Environmental and social impact assessment 4. Who gets the right to mine? Corruption is more likely to occur when:

  1. Due diligence on licence applicants is inadequate
  2. Controls to deter licence stockpiling are ineffective
  3. Regulation and disclosure of licence transfers are weak
5. How accountable are companies for their environmental and social impacts? Corruption is more likely to occur when:

  1. Verification of ESIAs is inadequate
  2. Criteria for environmental approval decisions are not clear or transparent
  3. ESIA reports are not publicly available
  4. Enforcement of licence conditions is weak
Community consultation 6. How meaningful is community consultation? Corruption is more likely to occur when:

  1. Rules for consultation are not clear
  2. Consultation only occurs with local elites
  3. Information about the project or its potential impacts is not accessible to community members
  4. Community agreements are not publicly available

Some of the African countries listed in the TI report are taking steps to mitigate corruption risks as it relates to the land and mining sector.

Mining in Zimbabwe
Mining in Zimbabwe

Kenya has recently taken steps to protect customary land rights. South Africa has been working to streamline its mining approval process but not without  some lingering bureaucratic hurdles. Zimbabwe is moving to install an online presence to ensure accuracy and ease of application in the mining sector.

Zambia has opportunities to de-politicize the mining committee to avoid undue influence and abuse from political appointees as is the case presently. Sierra Leone, in spite of legal requirements for the mining sector, has weak enforcement regimes which must be strengthened and include implementation of the Community Development Agreements which benefit local communities. Presently, the country’s National Minerals Agency is taking steps to be more transparent and is not publishing contracts on a dedicated website.

Conflict diamond
Conflict diamond

TI says governments, mining industries, the public must first understand the sources of corruption and then implement effective solutions and mitigating measures.

“Countries with robust approvals regimes can attract higher quality investments from major players who avoid corruption-prone jurisdictions, improve economic returns to their citizens and reduce rates of social conflict around mining projects,” the global corruption watchdog organization says.

 By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine