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Rooting out corruption key to reducing poverty in Africa
Author: Corporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Alec Basson]
Published: 17/10/2023

​Corruption significantly impedes poverty alleviation efforts and overall development in Africa. It acts as a major obstacle by diverting resources away from those who need them most, perpetuating cycles of poverty, and undermining socio-economic progress.

Addressing poverty* and corruption requires a comprehensive approach that includes legislative and policy frameworks, good governance, ethical leadership, moral and societal values, and community engagement.

This is the key proposal of a new book “The Nexus between Poverty and Corruption: Quo Vadis?" published recently by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Edited by Pregala Pillay and Chris Jones from Stellenbosch University and Sakhile Zondi and Purshottama Reddy from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the book delves into the unique challenges African countries face as they try to combat corruption-induced poverty. It offers a perspective that acknowledges the continent's diversity and the specific dynamics at play in different contexts.

“Presenting case studies from various African nations, the book makes it clear that reducing poverty effectively in the continent requires a concerted effort to combat corruption at multiple levels, accompanied by ethical leadership, community involvement, and strategic policy interventions," say the editors.

They add: “The book also emphasises that we need a profound shift in political and managerial will, which, historically, has been somewhat disappointing across the continent. To truly make progress, there must be a genuine commitment from political leaders and government officials to combat corruption effectively. This entails stringent enforcement of anti-corruption measures, transparent governance, and a commitment to the rule of law.

“This publication comes at an opportune time if one considers that 534 million out of the 1,1 billion poor people around the world live in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the latest global Multidimensional Poverty Index. Rooting out corruption would go a long way toward lifting them out of poverty and achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of No Poverty by 2030."

Comprising 17 chapters, the book explores several key themes such as how corruption undermines poverty alleviation efforts by diverting resources, distorting policies, and perpetuating inequalities; legislative and policy measures aimed at combating corruption within African governments and public sectors; the significance of ethical leadership and moral values in promoting good governance; the role of community engagement, societal values, and identity politics in the fight against corruption and poverty; and the potential of technology as a tool for transparency, accountability, and reducing corruption.

According to the editors, the book moves beyond broad generalisations, by offering context-specific insights into how corruption impacts poverty at the local, regional, and national levels by highlighting the diverse ways in which corruption manifests and its implications for poverty in different African countries.

It also examines the role of moral values and character in combating corruption and alleviating poverty.

“The book underscores the importance of ethical leadership and societal values in shaping behaviours and fostering a culture of integrity. This perspective highlights the need for a bottom-up approach to tackle corruption, emphasising the moral foundations upon which anti-corruption efforts should be built.

“One of the central lessons from the book is the imperative of changing mindsets, particularly among the electorate and voting public. It contends that for meaningful progress to occur, the voices of the poor, indigent, and marginalised must be heard and valued as key stakeholders in the fight against poverty and corruption.

“Recognising the agency of these communities is essential because they have the power to drive change by actively participating in the processes that enhance their quality of life."

The editors point out that since upholding the rule of law is a cornerstone of any effective strategy to combat corruption and alleviate poverty, the book highlights the necessity of accountability mechanisms such as establishing and enforcing legal frameworks to ensure public functionaries are held responsible for their actions.

“Underscoring the significance of adhering to international conventions, frameworks, and agreements established globally to combat corruption, the book advocates for international cooperation and partnerships with development agencies and developed countries to aggressively respond to poverty alleviation and corruption eradication in Africa. These global alliances can provide the necessary resources, expertise, and support to address these challenges effectively."

The editors say the book will appeal to students, academics, policymakers and government officials, development practitioners, business and industry, community leaders and activists, as well as non-governmental organisations engaged in advocacy, development work and anti-corruption initiatives.

*The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is observed annually on 17 October.  Click here for a News24 opinion piece by Prof Pregala Pillay (School of Public Leadership) and Dr Chris Jones (Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology / the Unit for Moral Leadership) on how corruption perpetuates poverty. The original version is available here.