The Mozambican government is taking a stand against corruption – and it seems that its moving in the right direction, at least according to the strategy document it released yesterday. The strategy recognizes that low wages of government officials are not the source of corruption, rather it is the institutional deficiencies that allow it to persist and these institutional deficiencies need to be addressed. Although identifying what needs to be done is important in its own right, a much more decisive aspect of successful anti-corruption reforms is coming up with a strategy for how it will be done. And that “how” is much about an open process of institutional change.
The reality is that governments can’t win war on corruption alone, even if the political will is there. This means that their ability to work with civil society groups and integrate them into the governance process becomes crucial to the success of anti-corruption initiatives. One such group in Mozambique, the Associação Comercial e Industrial de Sofala (ACIS – Commercial and Industrial Association of Sofala), is actively working to address the problem of widespread corruption. Its anti-corruption initiatives include efforts to raise awareness of corruption in society, discover the root causes of corruption, evaluate its costs, and show how the private sector can work to combat the problem. As a part of this initiative ACIS is also bringing together civil society representatives and government officials to discuss the problems they face and, more importantly, try to come up with concrete recommendations on the much-needed solutions.
The anti-corruption strategy released by the government of Mozambique seems to take into the account the importance of drawing on the experience of organizations like ACIS in designing anti-corruption programs. To what extent it will integrate civil society in the process remains to be seen, but the first steps have been made.