17.10.2004 General News

Do more to fight corruption in Africa - Wolfensohn

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From Kwaku Osei Bonsu, GNA special correspondent, Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Oct 17, GNA - Mr James D. Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, has told African leaders to do more in the fight to bring down corruption, which he said was the "single worst cancer" on the continent.

He pointed out that although corruption was not exclusive to Africa, Transparency Report and the Bank's own research showed that it was more widespread and pervasive in sub-Saharan Africa than any other part of the world and said, "This is tragic".

Mr Wolfensohn was speaking at a plenary session of the just-ended fourth African Development Forum (ADF) in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on Friday.

The five-day conference brought together key political and traditional leaders, civil society organisations and development partners to discuss ways of enhancing good governance in Africa. It was organised by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Development Bank (ADB) and the African Union (AU) under the theme: "Good Governance for Progressing Africa".

Mr Wolfensohn said it was important to ensure that structures put in place to fight corruption, promote accountability and transparency in public life were made functional.

It should be recognised that if the results of a nation's hard work were diverted into individual private pockets through unfair means, it could erode the legitimacy of the State, as there would be a lack of trust and faith in the government.

He called for legal and judicial reforms, capacity building, a strong civil society and a vibrant media to help stamp it out of national life.

Mr Wolfensohn maintained that good governance could make a difference in the fight against the unacceptable high level of poverty on the continent.

President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, who also heads the AU, in an address read for him, stated that development could become "an illusion in Africa without peace, stability and security".

He said there should be no doubt about the fact that true democracy and good governance were at the heart of sustainable development and poverty reduction and therefore "this should remain high on our agenda". Meanwhile, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene, who participated in the conference, at a dinner hosted for him by the Ghana Embassy in Ethiopia, said chiefs have a social contract with their people and "it is to help improve their lot".

He said the effort he was making was therefore motivated by genuine desire to bring development to the people, saying, "I do not seek political power. I am comfortable with my position as Asantehene". Otumfuo Osei Tutu pointed out that chiefs have every cause to be concerned about the welfare of their people and that they should not leave the burden of improving social infrastructure and making life comfortable for the people to the government alone.

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