By Ousman Saidykhan
The party leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP) Lawyer Ousainou Darboe has said that his party will do what it takes to combat corruption in the Gambia if they are given a chance to lead the country. “Our issue [sic] with the Jammeh Government was that it was a corrupt government. We fought against that government and we cannot condone corruption” Lawyer Darboe told Party delegates and the press at the UDP launch of their 5-Point Agenda.
“If you look at the first page you’ll find out that the issue of corruption is certainly addressed and in fact, it is comprehensively addressed in the manifesto,” said Lawyer Darboe when questioned that corruption was not addressed in their 5-Point Agenda.
Darboe, who also serves as the Secretary-General of the UDP and Presidential flagbearer said this at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara Conference centre on Friday, August 28th 2021, where the party was launching their “5 Point Agenda”, manifesto and website.
UDP’s “5 Point Agenda outlines the party’s interest in Public Sector Reforms, Security Sector Reform, Zero Tolerance on Corruption and Violence Against Women.
The 5- Point Promise covers; Youth employment and Empowerment Scheme, Education, Skill and Training; Nutrition, Agriculture and Food Security; Public Health Security, Pandemic Containment and Social Protection and Energy and Digital Infrastructure.
Corruption remains an issue in the Gambia in spite of the improvement on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) from twenty-six (26) out of one-hundred (100) in 2016 to thirty-seven (37) out of 100 in their latest ranking, 2020.
The CPI ranks and scores countries/territories based on how corrupt a country’s public sector is perceived to be.
Out of 180 countries, The Gambia was ranked one-hundred (102), leaving behind only seventy-eight (78) countries as per Transparency International’s 2020 CPI. This does not tell well about The Gambia; a country widely referred to as “the smiling coast of Africa”. In comparison her neighbour, Senegal was ranked sixty-seven (67) out of 180; 35 places ahead of The Gambia and scoring forty-five (45) out of a hundred (100).
The CPI is a key indicator for the Gambia Government and its international partners when assessing the Government’s efforts to combat corruption. Most importantly it helps provide a comparative measure on how the International Community are addressing this scourge.
Given the limited data on the cost of corruption to the Gambian Economy, a report by European Sting highlights that “corruption, bribery, theft and tax evasion, and other illicit financial flows cost developing countries $1.26 trillion per year.”
Highlighting the size of corruption, the European Stings reports that the amount of funds lost is equal to “the combined size of the economies of Switzerland, South Africa and Belgium, and enough money to lift the 1.4 billion people who get by on less than $1.25 a day above the poverty threshold and keep them there for at least six years.”
One key anti-corruption tool Gambians have been calling for is the Anti-Corruption Bill tabled in Parliament in 2019. With the Bill still awaiting Parliamentary approval, it remains to be seen if it will be assented to before the end of President Adama Barrow’s term. The delay in approving the Bill has raised questions on the Government’s political will to fight corruption.
Gainako took the opportunity to question the UDP Flagbearer’s willingness to implement an Anti-Corruption Act if elected into State House in the December 4th 2021 Presidential Elections. In response Lawyer, Darboe highlighted that “institutions that will assist in the elimination of corruption in this country, we will set up those institutions and we will work with those institutions closely”.