Reports published in early May inform that Southern Africa, comprising of 16 countries, has over 12,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 220 deaths. As authorities start to roll out financial aid for these countries, concerns about corruption in fund disbursement are rife. Transparency International (TI) and the Botswana Center for Public Integrity have discussed the concerns with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to ensure that corruption does not cost people their lives.
TI’s chapters in Southern Africa have identified four areas that governments must act upon to prevent corruption amid the pandemic. The areas are public procurement, whistleblowing, free speech and press and development aid.
Public procurement is highly vulnerable to corruption. Therefore, governments should make the process more transparent. All details about public contracts and beneficial ownership should be accessible. Governments must monitor the quality and cost of services and products, including masks and other personal protective equipment being offered to the public.
Governments must also protect whistleblowers raising their voice against malpractices in the COVID-19 era. An important extension of this is guaranteeing freedom of the press and of expression, while countering the spread of misinformation. Moreover, authorities must strictly monitor the use and distribution of the emergency funds donated by international parties as development aid.
TI’s chapters in Zimbabwe and South Africa are already taking huge strides in countering corruption. These chapters are empowering the voice of the people and encouraging transparency in the dissemination of information during this crisis.