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African corruption is a crime against humanity

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Corruption may not be as bad as genocide, but it is also a crime against humanity. Corruption is a killer of initiative and trust. It drives away foreign investment and undermines the development of the rule of law.

But most callously, corruption robs African children of a better future. Just ask the students in Kenya who could have had 15,000 new classrooms with the $188 million that Mr. Clay alleged has gone missing under President Mwai Kibaki's so-called anticorruption administration.

Transparency International, a Berlin-based nongovernmental organization (NGO) that tracks global corruption, ranks most African countries at the bottom of its list. Even some of the purported African success stories, such as Uganda, are at the bottom of that list.

But is there hope for the future? Much hope has been placed in the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), an Africa-wide initiative that calls for good governance, accountability, and a peer-review mechanism as part of its monitoring process.

The African Union (AU) - the successor of the Organization for African Unity - even adopted a Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption last year, and 30 countries have signed it. But only three countries have ratified it - and it requires 15 ratifications to take force.

The UN has also initiated a UN Convention Against Corruption that has been signed by more than 100 countries, including Kenya which has also ratified it.

But why should America care? While many Americans are debating whether Martha Stewart should have gotten more or less than the five months in prison and five months house arrest she got for lying about her stocks, African bureaucrats are literally getting away with millions. For donor agencies and nations, as well as African societies themselves, not to make political and civil leaders accountable for aid money is to be complicit in the perpetuation of corruption.

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