The drafting process is expected to start before the end of this fiscal year

Jun 1 , 2019

The government has started the process of drafting the first national anti-corruption policy and strategy document that aims to coordinate and implement anti-corruption actions and preventive measures.

The Federal Ethics & Anti-Corruption Commission has prepared a Term of Reference (ToR) and submitted it to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which is financing the project. The purpose of the ToR is to float a tender and hire a consultant to draft the documents under UNDP’s Governance & Democratic Participation Programme.

The UN agency has allocated 40 million dollars for the implementation of the programme in partnership with 11 government institutions over a six-year period. Along with the Commission, parliament, the Human Rights Commission, the Ombudsman, the Auditor General, the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia, the House of Federation, the Council of Constitutional Inquiry and the Office of the Attorney General will be beneficiaries of the programme.

Expected to be launched in the next six months, the process of drafting the two documents is expected to be started next July, according to Tesfaye Shambo, director of reform and good governance at the Commission.

"UNDP will announce the tender this month," he said.

The two documents will have detailed guidelines on how to prevent corruption before it happens, what methods to implement to minimise corruption and identify effective ways on how to approach cases related to corruption. The guidelines will apply to politicians, senior government officials, the private sector, citizens, communities and civil society organisations.

As Ethiopia is a signatory of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, the country was already supposed to draft the two documents.

In fulfillment of the requirements of the conventions, the country had attempted to draft these documents twice before with the support of the World Bank and UNDP, but it failed to materialise, according to Tesfaye.

"The attempts have failed due to the lack of commitment by the government," Tesfaye told Fortune.

Ethiopia is one nation believed to have a high level of corruption. The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), released by Transparency International in 2018, has placed the country at 114 out of 180 countries.

"The preparation of the two documents is timely and important to support the country's fight against corruption," said Tesfaye.

In the last four years, the Commission's mandate has been restricted to an advisory position, awareness creation and promotion of anti-corruption information. An establishment proclamation of the Commission issued 18 years ago, however, had empowered it to investigate corruption and prosecute offenders.

Under an amendment to the proclamation, the Commission’s mandate was curtailed and its investigative and prosecutorial responsibilities were moved over to the Office of the Attorney General and the Federal Police, leaving only the advisory and research tasks to the Commission.

The drafting of the two new documents reassigns these mandates back to the Commission. The Commission has scheduled to conduct a national survey in July to identify the most corruption-prone institutions and the overall level of corruption in the country.

The draft policy and strategy are expected to be approved by parliament, when legislators return from recess in the next fiscal year, according to Tesfaye.

Once the draft is prepared, it will be made available for review and comments by stakeholders before it is submitted to the Council of Ministers and finally to parliament for final approval.

Ali Mohammed, an advocate and legal expert, believes that the country is late in adopting a corruption policy and strategy.

"The corruption level has expanded at both the private and government sectors," he said. "Beyond minimising the expanded corruption in the country, the documents would play a big role in circumventing corruption in the future."

PUBLISHED ON Jun 01,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 996]

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