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The AU needs to walk the talk on corruption | News | Africa

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Regardless of where it occurs, corruption harms poor people most, serving as a barrier to development by stifling economic growth and diverting funds from infrastructure, education, healthcare and other public services. Corruption can aggravate inequality and injustice, fuel frustration and violence, and undermine stability, especially in the most vulnerable regions in the world.

African citizens consistently place corruption amongst their top concerns, with many indicating that they have lost faith in many key institutions, including legislatures, police, courts, and national electoral commissions.
In terms of impact, the High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, led by Thabo Mbeki, estimates that more than $50-billion illicitly flows out of Africa every year.

Recognising the ruinous impact of corruption, the African Union (AU) chose 2018 as the year of winning the fight against corruption, with the potential to place Africa on the path to becoming a global norm setter in combating corruption. 

READ MORE: Exclusive: African Union boss accused of hiring ‘old crony’ — by his deputy

While there was scepticism on the impact that such a theme could have on the resolve of African leaders and institutions to make progress in the fight against corruption, a review of some of the outcomes of various activities at the continental and country levels in 2018 provides some insights on what is required to gain traction in the coming years in the fight against corruption on the continent.

After the official launch of the theme of the year in January 2018 at the 30th Ordinary Summit of the AU, and a debate at the 31st Ordinary Session of the Assembly – which saw more than 25 heads of states report on the status of the fight against countries in their countries in Nouakchott, Mauritania in July 2018 – African leaders acknowledged that corruption is a major hindrance to development across the continent and that something must be done about it.

Prior to the Summit in July 2018, 157 CSOs from 37 African countries signed an open letter to the AU calling for concrete anti-corruption commitments and urging African leaders to move from rhetoric to concrete actions. The adoption of the Nouakchott Declaration served as an important public statement on priority areas in the fight against corruption in Africa, which included combating illicit financial flows through measures such as: the establishment of effective company ownership registers, country-by-country reporting of financial information, participation in automatic exchange of tax information agreements, and support in strengthening tax authorities through the work of the African Tax Administration Forum. Leaders also agreed to implement inclusive development planning and policy making at the national level that includes participatory and transparent budgeting processes that allow citizens to participate in budget development and monitoring.

The receipt of three new ratifications from Angola, Mauritius and Sudan – bringing the total number of states parties to the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC) to 40 in 2018 – was also significant for the year.  Other states including Morocco and Tunisia also expressed their willingness to ratify the Convention. The ratification of the AUCPCC is the minimum level of political will that African governments must commit to to show seriousness in combating corruption. Critically, governments must now implement and enforce the convention’s provisions .

The African anti-corruption year also enhanced citizen participation and engagement in the fight against corruption. Most notably, over 1 000 youths were engaged during the course of three AGA regional youth consultations held across the continent and the African Anti-Corruption Youth Congress that took place in Abuja. This was strategic in boosting the capacity and coordination of the next generation to combat corruption. In addition, African celebrities in attendance, like 2Baba of Nigeria and Black Queen of Senegal, urged youths to mobilise in the fight against corruption.

The year also provided an opportunity for the AU to reflect on the effectiveness of the continental approach to fighting corruption. In order to report more realistic processes and measures in the fight against corruption at the national level, there was agreement to review the current questionnaire through which current state parties to the AUCPCC report their level of compliance. Also, there was consensus on the need to improve the capacity of the AU advisory board on corruption, including review of the tenure of board members and staffing the secretariat through the ongoing AU reform process. This process is led by President Paul Kagame to make the AU more effective in serving the needs of African citizens.

At the national level, Senegal took a significant stride forward by joining the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and is currently taking steps to develop a national action plan under the management of the ministry of good governance and child welfare. Kenya’s anti-corruption reforms are currently reaching new levels with President Uhuru Kenyatta leading the campaign to expose corruption, encourage honest public service delivery through the launch of the Huduma Halisi (“honest service”) campaign and the launch of its 3rd OGP national action plan. This plan will outline commitments to improve governance through increased openness,  engagement of citizens and specific measures to fight corruption. Nigeria launched its national anti-corruption strategy with similar commitments to transparency and a multi-stakeholder engagement mechanism for monitoring progress. Nigeria also hosted the largest gathering of African youths to stimulate youth participation in the fight against corruption.

Looking ahead, African countries that are not currently parties to the AUCPCC need to ramp up ratification and implementation of the convention while those who are parties should prioritise its implementation. The AUCPCC is a robust agreement that, if fully implemented, would help address a number of corruption issues across the continent. Yet its implementation has been slow and uneven.

African leaders must also implement the commitments made at the 2018 AU summit, as well as commitments made at the 2016 anti-corruption summit in London, while OGP members must issue and implement robust action plans.

Important progress was made in 2018 in the fight against corruption, but much more remains to be done. To shift the norms in the fight against corruption, it is now time to consider key aspects of transparency that enable African citizens to have a voice and can demand accountability in the management of their common wealth as well as prevent illicit financial flow out of the continent. African leaders have committed to do just that – now they must follow through and transform those rhetorical commitments into action. 

Rudo Kwaramba-Kayombo is the Africa Executive Director of the ONE Campaign.

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Riot police squads intervene as pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters clash in Montreal

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People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.


People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.

  • Violence
    between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters in Montreal was condemned by
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
  • Montreal’s
    city police force intervened and declared the protests illegal after tensions
    heightened and clashes broke out.
  • Israeli
    strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
    toll in almost a week of clashes.

Montreal
– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday condemned the violence and
“despicable rhetoric” that marked several weekend protests throughout
the country, after clashes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters in
Montreal.

The
worst violence in years, sparked by unrest in Jerusalem, is raging between the
Jewish state and Islamist militants.

Israeli
strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
toll in almost a week of deadly clashes.

Speaking
after protests in Montreal, Trudeau condemned what he said was “despicable
rhetoric and violence we saw on display in some protests this weekend”.

While
insisting on the “right to assemble peacefully and express themselves
freely in Canada”, Trudeau stressed in a tweet that there was no tolerance
for “antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind”.

Earlier
on Sunday, Montreal police used tear gas following clashes between pro-Israel
and pro-Palestinian protesters.

Several
hundred demonstrators, draped in Israeli flags, had gathered in a central
Montreal square to express solidarity with the Jewish state.

‘Protesting is a right’

Although
the protest started peacefully, tensions ratcheted up with the arrival of
pro-Palestinian demonstrators and clashes soon broke out.

The
SPVM, Montreal’s city police force, declared the protests illegal, and squads
of riot police intervened, using tear gas to separate and disperse the two
groups, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

The
police spent much of the afternoon in pursuit of the pro-Palestinian
protesters, who spread out and regrouped in commercial streets in the city centre.

Following
the clashes, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said on Twitter that
“protesting is a right”, but that “intolerance, violence and
anti-Semitism have no place here”.

She said:

Montreal is a city of peace.

Several
thousand pro-Palestinian demonstrators had gathered on Saturday in central
Montreal to denounce what they said were Israeli repression and “war
crimes” in Gaza.

“Terrorist
Israel”, some protesters chanted, while others held up a banner that read,
“Stop the genocide of Palestinian children”.

Pro-Palestinian
protests happened the same day in multiple Canadian cities, including Toronto,
Ottawa and Vancouver.


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Peter Thiel Helps Fund an App That Tells You What to Do

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“How would you feel about being able to pay to control multiple aspects of another person’s life?” asks the BBC.

“A new app is offering you the chance to do just that.”

When writer Brandon Wong recently couldn’t decide what takeaway to order one evening, he asked his followers on social media app NewNew to choose for him. Those that wanted to get involved in the 24-year-old’s dinner dilemma paid $5 (£3.50) to vote in a poll, and the majority verdict was that he should go for Korean food, so that was what he bought…

NewNew is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Courtne Smith. The app, which is still in its “beta” or pre-full release stage, describes itself as “a human stock market where you buy shares in the lives of real people, in order to control their decisions and watch the outcome”. For many of us that sounds a bit ominous, but the reality is actually far less alarming. It is aimed at what it calls “creators” — writers, painters, musicians, fashion designers, bloggers etc. It is designed as a way for them to connect far more closely with their fans or followers than on other social media services and, importantly, monetise that connection…

Whenever a vote is cast the creator gets the money minus NewNew’s undisclosed commission… In addition to voting, followers can also pay extra — from $20 — to ask a NewNew creator to do something of their choosing, such as naming a character in a book after them. But the creator can reject all of these “bids”, and if they do so then the follower doesn’t have to part with the money…

Co-founder and chief executive Ms Smith, a 33-year-old Canadian, has big plans for NewNew, and has some heavyweight backers. Investors include Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, and the first outside person to put money into Facebook. Others with a stake in the business include leading US tech investment fund Andreessen Horowitz, and Hollywood actor Will Smith (no relation to Courtne). Snapchat has also given technical support.

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Sandpapergate will haunt Australia cricket forever: ex-bowling coach

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Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach - Gallo Images/Getty Images)


Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach – Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The 2018 ball-tampering scandal will haunt Australian cricket forever, much like the infamous underarm delivery of 40 years ago, the team’s former bowling coach David Saker said on Monday.

Saker was responding to opening batsman Cameron Bancroft suggesting that Australia’s bowlers knew about the plan in Cape Town to alter the ball which earned him a nine-month ban and rocked the game.

Saker was Australia’s bowling coach when Bancroft was caught trying to rough up the ball with sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa.

While refusing to be drawn on who knew what, Saker said “the finger-pointing is going to go on and on and on”.

“It’s like the underarm, it’s never going to go away,” he told Fairfax Media, referring to a 1981 incident when Trevor Chappell bowled underarm to ensure New Zealand lost a one-day match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The notorious delivery is still cited in New Zealand and in cricketing circles as a prime example of unsporting conduct.

However, the ball-tampering scandal – dubbed “sandpapergate” – had a greater impact on Australian cricket, with the then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner suspended for a year from all cricket and stripped of their leadership roles.

Darren Lehmann also quit as coach and all the top brass from Cricket Australia left after a scathing review blasted their “arrogant and controlling” win-at-all-costs culture.

No one else among the team or coaching staff was held to account but Bancroft’s remarks in an interview with The Guardian newspaper hinted that the team’s bowlers at least knew about the plan.

“Obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory,” he said.

Saker added: “There was a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else. It could have been stopped and it wasn’t, which is unfortunate.

“Cameron’s a very nice guy. He’s just doing it to get something off his chest … He’s not going to be the last.”

In response, Cricket Australia said that if anyone had new information, they would look into it.

Saker said he was not opposed to a fresh investigation but added “I just don’t know what they’re going to find out.”

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Mexico’s Andrea Meza crowned Miss Universe

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Miss Universe Andrea Meza


Miss Universe Andrea Meza

UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 IS ANDREA MEZA FROM MEXICO:


UPDATE:

THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 5:

1. Mexico

2. India

3. Brazil

4. Dominican Republic

5. Peru


UPDATE:

HERE ARE THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 10 CONTESTANTS:

1. Jamaica 

2. Dominican Republic 

3. India

4. Peru 

5. Australia 

6. Puerto Rico

7. Thailand

8. Costa Rica

9. Mexico

10. Brazil


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21 IN SWIMWEAR:


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21: 

1. Columbia

2. Peru 

3. Australia 

4. France

5. Myanmar

6. Jamaica 

7. Mexico 

8. Dominican Republic 

9. USA

10. Indonesia 

11. Argentina 

12. India

13. Curaçao

14. Puerto Rico

15. Phillipines 

16. Brazil

17. Great Britain

18. Nicaragua

19. Thailand 

20. Costa Rica

21. Vietnam


 UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE SOUTH AFRICA NATASHA JOUBERT WALKS THE STAGE AT MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021:


74 contestants will compete for the title of Miss Universe on 16 May in Hollywood, Florida. 

The Miss Universe pageant takes place on 16 May in the US (02:00 to 05:00 on 17 May SA time). The show will be broadcast live on 1 Magic (DStv Channel 103) with a repeat at 21:30. 

Reigning Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa will crown her successor at the end of the event.

Representing South Africa is Natasha Joubert, and South Africans are hoping for the “magic double” – back-to-back consecutive wins, which has only happened once before in the pageant’s history.

Natasha wowed crowds at the national costume competition last week and on Friday impressed during the preliminary round

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Miss Mexico crowned Miss Universe 2021

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By AFP Time of article published 16m ago

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Washington – Miss Mexico was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday in Florida, after fellow contestant Miss Myanmar used her stage time to draw attention to the bloody military coup in her country.

Sunday night marked the Miss Universe competition’s return to television, after the pageant was cancelled in 2020 for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrea Meza, 26, finished first ahead of the Brazilian and Peruvian finalists in a flashy televised event, hosted by American actor Mario Lopez and television personality Olivia Culpo.

Former Miss Universe contestants Cheslie Kryst, Paulina Vega and Demi-Leigh Tebow (who won the title in 2017) served as competition analysts and commentators, and a panel of eight women determined the winner.

Dressed in a sparkling red evening gown, Meza tearfully walked the catwalk as Miss Universe for the first time, before rushing back for a group hug with the other competitors.

Meza beat more than 70 contestants from around the globe in the 69th installment of Miss Universe, which was held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

In the days leading up to the final competition, Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin, who made the top 21, made waves when she used her time in the spotlight to bring attention to the coup in her country.

“Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day,” she said during her biographical video, which showed photos of her taking part in the anti-coup protests. “Therefore I would like to urge everyone to speak out about Myanmar.”

Natasha Joubert, Miss Universe South Africa 2020 competes on stage in Ema Savahl swimwear during the MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Competition.

She also won the award for best national costume: during that competition segment on Thursday, she wore an outfit beaded in traditional Burmese patterns and held up a sign that said, “Pray for Myanmar.”

Myanmar has been in uproar since February 1, when the army ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

At least 796 people have been killed by security forces since then, according to a local monitoring group, while nearly 4 000 people are behind bars.

Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong – who did not make the top 21 – also used the national costume portion to make a political statement.

Dressed in a glittering red bodysuit and matching thigh-high boots, she turned around to reveal her cape – in the colours of the Singaporean flag – was painted with the words “Stop Asian Hate.”

“What is this platform for if I can’t use it to send a strong message of resistance against prejudice and violence?” she wrote on Instagram alongside pictures of her outfit.

The United States in particular has seen a surge in anti-Asian violence in the past year, which activists have blamed on former president Donald Trump’s rhetoric, especially his repeated description of Covid-19 as the “China virus.”

The pageant has also drawn criticism in the past for objectifying the contestants.

In recent years, the competition has shifted image, focusing more on female empowerment and activism.

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